Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interesting Bit of Cultural Commentary

From Hercules the Strong, who is probably the best TV writer in America right now, about the ABC dramadey Brothers & Sisters:

“Brothers [& Sisters]” doesn’t otherwise much distinguish itself in the vast vast 21st century sea of scripted hourlongs.

Except in one respect. When it comes to the gay smooching, “Brothers and Sisters” makes “Will & Grace” look like “The Unit.” The show represents a breakthrough in network male-on-male spit-swapping, boasting copious Disney-sanctioned homosexual lip-lock. The show started with the openly gay Kevin, then introduced the Rob Lowe character’s gay brother. Still later in season one it is revealed that another core member of the Walker clan is secretly gay.

All this homosexuality is not entirely unexpected! “Brothers” was created by gay playwright Jon Robin Baitz. Greg Belanti, one of the homosexuals behind “Dawson’s Creek,” “Everwood” and “Jack & Bobby” (and the upcoming “Dirty Sexy Money,” one of at least two new ABC hourlongs to feature a major transsexual plotline this season), served as head writer and showrunner during most of “Brothers’” first season.

Another writer on “Brothers” is homosexual actor/playwright David Marshall Grant. Grant, some will recall, helped generate a shitstorm of viewer protest and sponsor pullout for (a pre-Disney) ABC more than 15 years ago when his gay character cavorted nakedly with another male in “thirtysomething.” “Brothers,” a 21st century ABC hourlong with a lot more homosexual content, has to my knowledge inspired no sponsor pullouts. Owing perhaps to the popularity of “Six Feet Under” and “The L-Word” and even “Buffy,” the religious right seems to have finally conceded this battle.

A very astute observation. The very fact that I haven't seen anyone else making a similar one seems to be a sign of how completely the debate has been shifted.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're joking right, Jonathon?

"Hercules" is perhaps the least insightful person writing anything today. A cheerleader for cult people.

He's also completely wrong.

1. Audiences are fragmented, so no one cares anymore. The L Word is on HBO and gets what, 1-2 million viewers? Brothers and Sisters gets, what, 3 million? "Mail Call" on the History Channel probably gets more viewers. Even Buffy got very few viewers, averaging at the height around 5 million viewers (before "gay now") and at it's end around 3 million or less.

The religious right doesn't CARE about that battle, because it's not in a public space anyone cares about. More and more there is no overarching common culture, merely a thousand niches.

2. Hercules misses the bigger story: the over-representation of gays and explicitly gay-themed entertainment matching completely the fleeing of straight men from places where gays dominate: films and TV.

Gay men are estimated to be around 6-10% of the population. Yet they seem to be far over-represented in TV production by what Hercules cites (and add in the gay duo who created Big Love and gay producer Cherry of Desperate Housewives).

Can gay men make TV straight men will watch? Please. That's laughable. Straight men like stories where guys do something (dangerous, risky, or difficult) and in so doing get the girl. Given that thinking about women dominates straight men's lives.

TV, and films, are becoming a "gay ghetto" which like Broadway, straight men will avoid like the plague.

Can TV which depends on ads survive in it's current form when the audience consists of gays and women? Unlikely. Herc misses that we are already seeing that effect: more and more cheap reality because there is not enough of an audience with about half the population not watching.

The future of TV will resemble: 1. cheap, daytime soap opera like scripted series with gay/female themes, 2. Reality stuff appealing to gays/females, 3. Sports and niche channels appealing to men: Football and the History Channel.