During our segment on bisexuality, a student presented on Tila Tequila and bisexuality in the mass media. She did a lovely job of talking about the Tequila’s show, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. She discussed the interestingly hybrid genre of the reality t.v. show in general, spontaneous but not unscripted. And within that frame, she presented a compelling argument for the way in which the show scripts the parameters of acceptable t.v. bisexuality.
First, it is important that the show centers on a woman’s bisexuality. Given the power of the male gaze, a guy choosing between queer guys and straight women would prove much more uncomfortable for a viewing audience than the spectacle of a hot, sexy woman choosing between other hot, queer women and hot, straight men.
Second, while the show does provide some unsettling of our assumptions around sexuality through Tila Tequila, overall the show reifies gender and sexuality. While Tila is allowed to be transgressive (kissing and having desire for both men and women, at the same time), nobody else is. The men are all focused on her and, in the second season, when two of the women kissed each other, they were kicked out. In addition, the show has the women and men segregated in a color-coded house that reminds me of the gendering that toy stores do– pink doors and blue doors lead into the different areas, and when the women and men arrive at Tequila’s house, they arrive in pink and blue limousines.
Finally, the show reifies sexuality in its very format as a dating show that leads, eventually, to Tequila’s choice. At the end of the first season she chose a man. At the end of the second season, a woman. In some ways, regardless of her biography or her own romantic story, two seasons were necessary narratively in order to avoid claims that Tequila was not really bisexual. (See my previous post.)
On a side note: I sent in a PSA for human rights in Burma (starring Tila Tequila) to Sociological Images, a blog whose insistent media watch I appreciate. I’m still not sure how to read this PSA… but it is disturbing in its use of Tequila’s bisexuality in the service of (?) promoting students’ knowledge of and activism about human rights violations in Burma.