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Friday, July 16, 2010

Critical Analysis of Lloyd on the HBO Series, Entourage

Entourage is a smart and intriguing series on HBO about the stylized lifestyles of the Hollywood elite. Its characters are interesting and depict different aspects of pop-culture, especially the character Lloyd.  A gay Chinese-American secretary played by Rex Lee, he is the central ‘diverse’ character in the series, being the only major recurring character that is neither Caucasian nor heterosexual in the popular series. Therefore, the inclusion of Lloyd in the series not only breathes in some of the gay sub-culture and ethnicity in Entourage’s non-divert Hollywood atmosphere, but also breaks down social norms. This can be seen from how Lloyd is portrayed, especially in the season premiere episode of season 6, “Drive”, where Lloyd confronts his demeaning, silver-tongued boss, Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, for a promotion from his secretarial position, and with his relationship with his aforementioned boss.
As previously stated, Entourage quite rarely utilizes characters that are either non-white or non-heterosexual. This leaves Lloyd in charge of with the burdening task of representing both communities as a Chinese-American homosexual. He does that with flair. Lloyd does not conform to the stereotypical Asian that is depicted as “camera-wielding tourists, scholastic overachievers, or sinister warlords” (Newman 95). Lloyd is, out of all things, a homosexual secretary for an Agency firm in Hollywood and a pretty good one as the episode depicts that his retention by Ari Gold, who is notoriously known for having a new secretary every couple of weeks, lasts for over three years in the course of the show. However, what Lloyd’s character achieves to do is reinforce the characteristic stereotype that most male homosexuals are effeminate. Lloyd’s perky personality, boisterous attitude, and an impeccable fashion sense, although giving a fresh and somewhat relieving juxtaposition to his demeaning, self-serving boss, are given characteristics of that classic stereotype. Lloyd does break down the social norms for his sexual orientation in other aspects.
As the episode’s title infers, Lloyd’s grit and determination are represented well in his “drive” for success. After being refused once before by Ari, Lloyd lays down an ultimatum for the agency executive by willfully saying, “Ari, promote me or I’m leaving you!” Not to be deterred by Lloyd’s outbreak, Ari still arrogantly refuses to tend to Lloyd’s wants. However, after some thought of losing one of his most prized and loyal employees and some words from his wife and kids, Ari finally gives in to Lloyd’s demands by proposing that after 100 days, if Lloyd is still with him, he will get that most sought for promotion. With this, Lloyd plans on moving up the social ladder by hard work and determination. This does not conform with the media stereotype as indicated by Newman where he states, “images of homosexuality are rather narrow… Most gay and lesbian characters are white, and virtually all of them live comfortably in the middle class” (99). The passion for moving upwards is a sign that he is uncomfortable living his life as a secretary. He wants to become a powerful agent in the industry and to become a force not to be reckoned with.
To become a powerful agent, Lloyd needs to learn from the best.  Ari Gold is not Lloyd’s boss for nothing; he built one of the most powerful agencies from the ground up. He symbolizes the epitome of America. A powerful white man that has a dominant say on what goes on in the business. His rationale then can be compared to the interpretation of the show. Therefore, his relationship with Lloyd speaks volumes on how the creators of Entourage feel about his character. As Raymond notes, “portrayals of ‘minorities in the media’ tended to focus mostly on ethnic and racial minorities and to ignore sexual orientation as a defining aspect of identity” (101). Ari teases both Lloyd’s race and sexual orientation at somewhat equal magnitudes. For example, after asking Lloyd, “You never told him [Lloyd’s father] you like dick,” he continues, a minute later, to suggest that Lloyd’s father works in a dry cleaners. This goes to show that both character traits equally describe Lloyd. Raymond further states, “Depictions of glbt people tended both to dichotomize anyone glbt as victim or villain” (101). Even though harassed by Ari’s smart-mouthed tongue on numerous occasions, it never seemed that Lloyd was either a victim or a villain in the show. Maybe that’s just how Ari is, poking fun at everyone and not caring about the consequences. Or maybe Ari feels that Lloyd plays a bigger part in his life that he lets on, sometimes being the voice of reason and salvation when Ari is at a low-point. Therefore, Lloyd is somewhat a hero that saves Ari when he goes on a road to self-destruction, not a victim or a villain.
In conclusion, Lloyd takes on a bigger role than it seems. He represents his race and sexual orientation in, what I feel, a good light. He breaks down social norms with such flamboyancy and energy that it is difficult not to fall in love with his character. He marks an age of gradual acceptance of both race and homosexuality in the media. It is a definite given that Lloyd will continue to play a vital role in Entourage.
Bibliography:
“Drive”. Entourage. By Mark Wahlberg. Perf. Jeremy Piven, Rex Lee, et al. HBO. 2009.
Newman, David M. “Chapter 3: Portraying Difference”.  Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007. pp. 94-99.
Raymond, Diane A. “Popular Culture and Queer Representation: A Critical Perspective”. Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Ed. Dines, Gail and Humez, Jean M. California: Sage Publications, Inc, 2003. pp. 98-110.

2 comments:

  1. Strength:

    I thought your introduction and conclusion were interesting. I liked the fact that you discussed by adding a Chinese American homosexual into the mix. It added diversity into a racially homogeneous show.

    I thought it was interesting how you examined the relationship between Lloyd and Ari. I thought by discussing the relationship, you help to demonstrate the uniqueness of the portrayal of Lloyd .

    I liked your piece in the beginning about Lloyd breaking the stereotype of Chinese Americans in the media. I thought the quote you included helped to prove your point effectively.

    Weakness:

    I thought you should have broken down the paragraphs. I found myself getting lost in your prose, and therefore have trouble grasping the full meaning. I thought if they were shorter, it might have been easier to follow your argument. Also, be careful of run-on sentences.

    I wish that you had addressed masculinity and femininity more directly. Although your ideas about sexuality and race were interesting, I thought if you had more analysis about gender, it would have strengthened the ideas present in your paper.

    Lastly, I think you could have strengthened your thesis statement. I had trouble picking out a definitive subject for the paper.

    Just a note: If possible, in your next blog, I would encourage you to use the same font throughout your paper. It looks a bit better stylistically.

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  2. Henry-
    Hannah said it all! You chose a great character from Entourage for this analysis; however, you seemed to stray from the assignment rather quickly in your intro. Therefore, to point you in the right direction for the next assignments, look at the following in addressing the need for a clear and focused thesis, paragraph structure, more analysis and less narration, as well as the need to use the terms of the analysis accurately:
    Intro is too vague:
    When you write your intro, keep a couple of issues in mind:
    -You need to know what you're introducing to your readers; therefore, it is helpful to write it last.
    -Avoid generalizations, such as "many people say" unless you plan on citing a statistic that illustrates that the "p-value" is statistically significant and consistent with your assertion about "many people," "most people," etc.
    -Your thesis needs to be as clear and focused as possible; therefore, the thesis needs to specify what you're analyzing (i.e. the show episode through a specific character) and for what reason (i.e. to demonstrate that this character, in the chosen episode, conveys clear messages and meanings about what it means to be a man or a woman.
    -Your readers need to know what show/character/etc you're analyzing by the end of your intro.
    Thesis Specificity:
    Make your thesis as specific as possible and don't leave anything unclear or without the definition you plan to argue.
    When you use a term vaguely or inaccurately in your thesis, you're setting yourself up for a difficult analysis in the paragraphs that follow.
    Be careful with your quote usage; therefore, remember to use quotes selectively to back up specific points. When you jump from a paragraph with a point from one author, directly to another paragraph that quotes a different author, the points the author makes should be backing up the same point you've made in the paragraph preceding the first paragraph with quoted work.
    The following outline can be used as a reference point (the numbers indicate the paragraph sequence) to structure and order a basic, written analysis:
    1. Intro Paragraph (with thesis at the last sentence)

    2. Point A (your first point/assertion that supports your thesis)

    3. Point A with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 2)

    4. Point B (your point/assertion that supports your thesis that can be directly linked with point A, so that your transition from point A to B is logical and adds depth to your analysis)

    5. Point B with quote from "expert witness" (author cited through the use of a direct quote to back up your point/assertion made in paragraph 4)

    ....
    .... repeat the steps above until your points have been made and you've adequately proven your thesis.

    #. Conclusion (after all points have been made)

    Transitions:
    The transitions between paragraphs are important places to make analytical links between the "parts" through which your analysis has been broken down into (so you can support your thesis).

    :o)

    Jessie

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