aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, March 02, 2007
What the gay community deserves on TV
The New York Observer had a piece last week on the status and strategies of the two gay cable networks. “We’re premium; they’re basic,” says the guy from here! in referring to that other gay network, Logo. Two gay networks?
The question whether an all-gay network can succeed if it doesn’t have a fair amount of sex is a fair one--and one that calls to mind not so much the old libel that gays are sexually voracious, but the new market conditions, in which gay themes that aren’t sexual play out regularly on mainstream cable and, yes, even network television.
New major-network shows like Brothers & Sisters and The Class promise significant gay themes and characters, and reruns of Will & Grace and Sex and the City still keep the late-night comfort-television vigil going on CW.
“We believe that the gay community deserves more than one TV show,” [here! network chief executive Paul] Colichman said.
The unfortunate thing about what’s happening in gay television now is that these companies have an interest in ghettoizing gays. That they don’t have a lot of money to do it is both good and bad.
“We can probably only afford to do two to three scripted series a year,” said Dave Mace, Logo’s V.P. of original programming, which leaves the rest of the time filled with reruns and (on In the Life today) “...topics including reports on gays and lesbians in the military, lesbian art in America, domestic violence within the queer community.” I promise you that won’t build the audience they need.
So what we’ll wind up with is merger, bankruptcy and/or - the cocaine of media - sex. What’s most particularly upsetting about the latter is that these networks will continue to dress up their programming (and business models) in the rhetoric of what “the gay community deserves.” That appeal to civil rights and community might reasonably combine with the low quality and sexualized programming to confirm the afore-mentioned “old libel” in the broader public imagination. And we gay people go along for the ride.
Neither Here! nor Logo was willing to reveal revenues or subscriber numbers, only market reach. Logo, started in 2005, is available to 26 million households, often as a basic cable option, packaged with tens or hundreds of other channels. Without Nielsen ratings, it’s difficult to quantify its audience with accuracy.
Here!, begun in 2002, is available to over 50 million subscribers. It’s a subscription service, either on-demand, 24/7 format or both--whatever the form, consumers have to pay extra to get it.
I stand by my long held belief that a gay network is a doomed undertaking. There should be no gay network. Rather, there should be a hip, urban network with a gay sensibility - lots of arty, edgy, racy, camp programs that are gay in every way but name. The television equivalent of the gay club in town that everyone knows is the most fun so it draws straights as well as gays. That’s a network I’d pay for.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Bush, Katrina and Ethel
News today is that President Bush made his 14th trip to the Gulf Coast since Hurricane Katrina struck in the late summer of 2005. It doesn’t look like he visited Ethel Williams this time. Williams is a Ninth Ward resident who has been visited twice before by President Bush and is still waiting for promised federal assistance.
I learned of Ethel Williams last year in the NPR story noting the second Bush visit:
Williams says she’s not angry at anyone—especially not the president. She never voted for Mr. Bush, but she says she really felt a connection with him that day in April. She now calls the president a friend.
She’s confident that President Bush will make sure things work out: “You can’t get me to say he won’t, because he will. Watch.”
“What’s your name? I’m gonna call you. I’m gonna prove it to you. Before you leave, let me know how to get in touch with you. I’m gonna call you.”
I don’t know if she called but NPR went back last week and found that Williams’ still has not had her house rebuilt. Not only that, her property might be condemned by the city. So now does she hold the president accountable?
GREENE: When Mr. Bush gave his televised State of the Union Address last month, Mrs. Williams was watching.
Ms. WILLIAMS: Yeah, I was looking at the speech, yeah; he didn’t say anything about New Orleans, or anything.
GREENE: She says that’s okay, and that Mr. Bush’s pretty distracted these days by Iraq. Not that Mrs. Williams isn’t frustrated. She’s still living with Wanda across the river, and like thousands of New Orleans residents, she’s waiting for rebuilding money from Louisiana’s Road Home Program. She said her next step is to see if volunteers from Catholic charities can do enough work on her house that it gets by city inspections. But still, no anger at Mr. Bush.
Ms. WILLIAMS: Look, I’m not angry with him at all.
GREENE: Why not?
Ms. WILLIAMS: Well, one reason why I’m not angry is because I didn’t look him up, he found me. You know, this wasn’t something that I asked for and not getting.
Last year I was charmed; this year I’m just dumbfounded.
Boortz & Johnson on Genarlow (the sequal)
An emailer’s tip:
Not sure if you caught Sen Johnson on Boortz this AM...follow up to last week’s interview. Apparently Sen Johnson sent Boortz a copy of the videotape of Wilson engaged in sexual acts with the 17 and 15 year old. Here’s the irony....that tape is considered by Federal Law as CHILD PORNOGRAPHY (18 USC 2252). When Sen Johnson sent the tape to Boortz, he himself committed a FEDERAL CRIME (18 USC 2252) of which if convicted could face 10 years in prison and have to register as a SEX OFFENDER.
In the interview, BOORTZ asked JOHNSON if he (Boortz) could watch the video since it depicted sex of minors....Johnson, sound “I think so...” Boortz asked Johnson if this was a set up, but the reality was that JOHNSON broke the law and NOT Boortz. Now, if Boortz fails to report the video and keeps it, then he is knowingly possessing Child Porn.
How IRONIC would it be for JOHNSON to be on the same Sex Offender registry as Wilson??
Check it out
LATER: Here’s the audio.
The Real McCain (reprise)
In honor of McCain’s announcement on Letterman last night, The Real McCain:
SEE ALSO: The Real McCain explained.
What is news?
...I look on the Web and you see your programming, let’s say, for Primetime and it’s “Teenage Girl Gets Ten Years for Oral Sex” or “Guides to Teenagers for Dating.” That’s news?
Well, I think news is what matters to people. I think that really is true information about what matters to people is news.
It’s not current affairs. It’s not the kind of news that you would consume. You have children, right?
You might have questions about having your children watch these stories.
Sure. Equally true of The Washington Post or The New York Times. There’s a style section in The Washington Post; it doesn’t mean that they don’t cover matters of public interest. In fact, that’s always been true, as far as I can tell. That’s not different. There are new outlets. There are new ways of conveying things, but the range of topic subject, I honestly am not aware that that has changed dramatically. If it has, I’m just not aware of it.
The full program is available online.
New York City bans the n-word
A symbolic vote, a noble goal. I’m not optimistic it will succeed:
New York City symbolically banned use of the word nigger on Wednesday, the latest step in a campaign that hopes to expunge the most vile of racial slurs from hip hop music and television.
The City Council unanimously declared a moratorium that carries no penalty but aims to stop youth from casually using the word, considered by most Americans to be the most offensive in the English language.
The New York City measure follows similar resolutions this month by the New York state assembly and state senate, and supporters of the ban are taking their campaign to The Recording Academy, asking it not to nominate musicians for Grammy awards if they use the word in their lyrics.
Many rap artists and young New Yorkers toss the word around as a term of endearment or as a substitute for black, angering some black leaders who consider those who use it as ignorant of the word’s hate-filled history in slavery and segregation.
“This could be the beginning of a movement,” councilman Albert Vann said. [...]
The city resolution calling for the moratorium traces the etymology of the word from the Latin “niger,” meaning black, to its first documented written use in 1786 as a term slave masters used to label their African slaves.