Stop Faking It: The MTV Show's Role in The Faux Lesbianism Trend

What’s hotter than two femme lesbians?

This seems to be among the latest challenges MTV has imposed on themselves and responded to with their scripted series, “Faking It,” where two females feign lesbianism strictly for the purposes of attention. The show, now in its second season, follows the lives of two high school girls aiming to become homecoming queens by any means necessary. When the girls are mistaken for lesbians by their peers, they decide to run with it. Part of their rationale being that guys love lesbians. The primary image used to promote the show is none other than the show’s two stars awkwardly smooching.  

“Faking it” reminds of the fad of faux lesbianism that seemed to gain momentum throughout the 2000s. While there are major civil rights issues concerning the LGBT community, shows such as this place homosexuality in a detrimentally superficial light. The program’s heterosexist nature lay in the idea that the power derived from lesbianism is solely based on the attraction heterosexual men have to witnessing sexual relations between women.

To have standards for MTV programming would be masochistic, but social responsibility isn’t too grandiose an expectation.  The epitome of trashy TV networks isn’t the only outlet responsible for this fad. Celebrities with well-established statuses have also felt obliged to resort to risqué girl on girl action. A recent example can be found in the new “Booty” video starring pop veteran, Jennifer Lopez and rap rookie, Iggy Azalea. Not to mention, this past winter’s Rihanna-Shakira collab in “Can’t Remember to Forget You.” Both videos feature scantily clad celebrity female pairs caressing themselves.

There’s been a similar trend with bisexuality where it’s viewed as hot to be attracted to both women and men. As a result, those that truly identify as bisexual aren’t always taken seriously within and outside of the queer community.

Pop duo t.a.t.u., who performed at the Sochi Olympics earlier this year, has also been guilty of feigning lesbianism in an attempt at fame. The group admitted to being advised to act as if they were romantically linked when they first appeared on the music scene. If faux lesbianism has a place in a country that imprisons one for positively or neutrally discussing homosexuality in the presence of minors, it should have no accepted place in the media of a country that’s believed to be one among the more progressive.   

“Faking It” is just another instance of glamorization of shallow aspects of the lifestyles of marginalized groups. In the minds of the sheltered, when the sex appeal factor of lesbianism is exploited, the concept of lesbianism becomes segregated from the complexities associated with it. The isolation, struggles with self-acceptance, lack of equal opportunities. While the Center for Disease control reports that 80% of LGBT students in middle and high school are bullied, there’s an instance in which Karma played by Katie Stevens exclaims, “Being gay is the best thing that ever happened to me!”

It’s possible that the production of the show is a social commentary on its own. Maybe the creators intended to mock the trend of faux lesbianism. Whether or not this was the intended effect, considering the network’s audience, that’s probably not the message being received.