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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Monday, August 2 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Why does CBS want a 'gay network'?

CBS is atop one of the largest and most profitable international entertainment and news media conglomerates, Viacom. Its properties include or have included the Waltons and Touched By An Angel; it's long been the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the network affiliate of the Utah-based conservative religion's own television station and of the former Westinghouse broadcast group (which for a few weeks actually "owned" CBS until Viacom's stockholders came up with a better price for its stock), Paramount movie studios and their Great America amusement parks, and partnership in UPN. Those are the lighter side. On the darker side it's also the domain of MTV, the raunchy Showtime, Comedy Central, VH1, and now they're poised to launch cable TV's first fulltime "gay" channel, Logo.

When I linked a story from CBS News about the gay network on my other website, Xnmp, I wondered editorially:

What other cross-section of the population with such a small demographic (under 10 percent of the general population by all serious accounts) attracts so much fawning attention? What could account for this disproportionate fascination?

I think it could be that "gay" is about sex, all sex, all the time, and the networks have just been frothing at their collective mouths to get a way to exploit that, the most universal of all human vulnerabilities.

I've been thinking more about this since writing it. I'm not saying that sex is the only thing "gays" care about. But sexuality is always part of the equation. "Gay," by definition, is sexual; you can't hear or see the word without thinking about the fact that it's sexual. Lots of men can't see the names of certain women (Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, Paris Hilton), without having a sexual reaction. All of the networks want to sex-up their programming because it's the easiest way to attract an audience, especially the demographic from mid-teens to late-20's, the "hipsters," who are the ones advertisers are most keen to reach.

Even the male half of that demographic, which the networks consider the creme de la creme of the total audience, are curious and even fascinated enough about "gayness" to tune into programs about it, like NBC/Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Several times I've seen in the program listings a VH1 half hour show about the whole "gay" youth club scene, and I watched some of it, until I couldn't take any more. It claims that most straight young couples go to gay bars and especially dance clubs occasionally just to experience the sexual tension and energy that's there. And the show depicting this is obviously all about that same sexual energy. I'm betting (seeing that the head of VH1 is spearheading the gay channel launch) that that show played a pivotal role in leading CBS-Viacom make its commitment to a gay network.

Though it's ostensibly about "serving" the gay minority, I don't think that's it's main purpose at all. It's about boosting the sex quotient that's in the cable air, so to speak, and to give CBS (long derided by comics like Leno and even their own Letterman as the network for the greyhaired) get a sexier rep. Logo will be the most pointedly sexual network on television; it will have lots of programs not "about" sex, but I'm betting it won't have any that don't have sex as their governing subtext.

We'll take up "subtexts" in our next discussion.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Only in America

...do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Sent by Mike Harris  

Thought for today

Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If they aren't there the first time, chances are you won't be needing them again.

Sent by Trudy Myers 

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