Abstract: The 1980s featured a niche slate of syndicated shows prizing nostalgia, sex, consumerism, and camp–and often in children’s programming! First-run syndication in this era was rife with the queer erotics of characters, featuring rippling muscled toons like He-Man and Masters of the Universe, The Transformers, and ThunderCats alongside the spandex-clad American Gladiators and the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. These shows and characters, with their glittery, provocative, and sexualized aesthetics blended, subverted, or were openly hostile to long-entrenched genre conventions of most of television and certainly children’s TV. They are remembered fondly today as contributing to and derived from the zeitgeist of a pop culture and televisual era enamored of excess. Using historical analysis from a media policy perspective, this presentation traces the collision of syndication with cultural, regulatory, political, and industrial circumstances that created a culture of queer kids programming in the 1980s.
Rewitched: Retextuality and the Queering of Bewitched
Abstract: At the same time the 1960s sitcom Bewitched aired in reruns next to drag queens on LOGOtv, a cable channel targeted to LGBTQ viewers, it also aired on the former National Christian Network channel (Familynet) immediately preceding a line-up of church programs featuring far-right, anti-gay activists. How can a TV text be supple enough to motivate two politically opposing media brands to pick it up, and are changes made to the text to condition it for a particular channel’s audience? This article returns to foundational theories of TV flow and intertextuality to argue that in syndication, the production labor endeavored by syndicators, executives, programmers, and marketing departments effectively retextualizes shows like Bewitched, offering scholars opportunities for new textual analyses and new insight into the marginalized and queer audiences syndicated programming often serves.