• Lasse Kjær Hansen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis examines how the HBO Max TV series Our Flag Means Death works as an
example of queer representation in modern media. Rather than just looking at how the show
presents its numerous queer characters, this thesis is going to view them through the lens of
Parsemain’s idea of TV as pedagogy. Queerness as more than sexuality and gender identity is
explored, and the Revenge, the pirate ship where most of the show takes place, is conceptualized as
Muñoz idea of a queer utopia. How the show both presents and challenges a dominant idea of
masculinity is analyzed, and questions of identity alignment are examined. Why queer
representation is done with a period piece rather than a show is discussed, and the impact that the
queer representation of a show such as Our Flag Means Death can have on real people is explored.
Finally, the question of whether a piece of representation can truly be perfect is considered in regard
to the show. The show is found to be an excellent piece of queer representation media, that although
not perfect in its own right, as that is near impossible to achieve, it can function as part of a
collection of works that together encompass proper queer representation. The queer characters are
free of stereotypes and live happily together aboard the Revenge in a near perfect queer utopia, each
expressing their individual queerness as they see fit. The show teachers its viewers to approach
others with acceptance and without prejudice, not only regarding queer sexuality, but also when
people simply behave in unexpected ways. This is done by showing that judgmental and
inappropriate behavior creates tension and unpleasant situation, while treating others with kindness
and openness results in pleasant situations. In relation to this, the series shows its viewers that if and
when someone is coming out, what they tell you is up to them and there is no need to ask questions
unless they are wanted by the person that is coming out. The non-binary character Jim in the show
is played by a non-binary actor and has been written by a team that includes non-binary writers’,
while the main character Stede, a gay man, is portrayed by a straight man. This indicates that the
team behind Our Flag Means Death seems to have considered when identity alignment was
necessary, and when it was better to forgo in favor of identity juxtaposition. Stede’s general
incompetence also highlights why even though it is the norm in queer media, gay white men should
not always be in charge.
Publication date30 May 2023
Number of pages40
ID: 532321173