The Laramie Project

by Moisés Kaufman

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Does "The Laramie Project" portray the media positively, negatively, or both?

Quick answer:

I think that the play does portray the media in a negative light. The media comes to town and is painting Laramie with a brush of intolerance and hatred. There are many members of the community who believe that this depiction is unfair. This answer is in line with what I have read from various news stories and also from professor Scott Pegg's article "The Media, the Murder, and Matt Shepard." ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/shepard/etc/cron.html ) I will also say that I had not heard of The Laramie Project until I was assigned this paper, so it was definitely new to me.

Expert Answers

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I think that a large portion of this answer is dependent who is answering the question.  The play does depict the people in the town as resentful of the media.  They feel that the town of Laramie should not only be defied as Matt Shepard.  Many of the townspeople feel that the sad situation has been compounded by the outside media who is in search of a story and willing to paint the perception of Laramie with a brush that shows bigotry and hatred.  This is resented by the townspeople and to a certain extent helps to fuel the religious leaders vociferous stance against homosexuality.  Reverend Phelps attitudes can be traced to the fact that town's image has been depicted in a fairly harsh manner by the media.

I think that the play does conclude, though, the the media attention to the murder of Matt Shepard brought the definition of hate crimes as something that is to include homosexual people.  It is only through media attention and national debate and discussion that the productive dialogue and the healing out of this brutal moment in the history of Laramie and in America.

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