Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NBC and SyFy: GLAAD to Meet You!

Two recent items show how desperate, and clueless, the broadcast and cable networks have become. First, the painfully bad "Heroes" on NBC will have star Hayden Panettiere taking on a lesbian role, capitalizing on the acclaim and popularity of Lindsay Lohan. To be fair, the comic book version of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did that as well, and the stunt seems to have resulted in ... no appreciable jump in sales. Cliches such as lesbian kisses and storylines don't work (shows that have tried it such "the OC" and "Buffy" and "Ally McBeal" found no ratings jump). This will, however, make NBC more "GLAAD" friendly as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will increase it's score-card next season for NBC. Lesbian stunts have a history in broadcast TV going back to the 1990's. The evidence is in: the stunts don't pull in viewers.

Next, SyFy Network, in a continuing effort to repel any remaining male viewers, has announced that they are adding three new gay characters.



When the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released its annual Network Responsibility Index, Syfy was among the networks receiving "Failing" grades for their depiction of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters.

...
Looking ahead, however, Syfy's Stern touts two new series and the diversity depicted within.

"On Stargate Universe, one of the main female characters, we discover, is a lesbian and has a wife at home. It's a pretty important facet of who that character is," he says. ER alum Ming-Na plays intergalactic diplomat Camille Wray, while 24's Reiko Aylesworth recurs as her wife.

Similarly the Galactica prequel spin-off Caprica has at least two main characters depicted as being in gay relationships. "[One] is a 'goodfella'-type, and we discover in a nonchalant way that he is gay, with a husband," Stern says. "It was very interesting to me to take what is traditionally a very heterosexual role in an organization that we think of as being extremely homophobic, and put a gay character in that world in a very normalized way."

The other aformentioned Caprica character is part of a communal marriage featuring "heterosexual as well as homosexual couplings."


Syfy is not even trying to maintain male viewers. Straight men don't seem to find entertaining, gay mafiosas and even less, "communal marriages." Ratings are less important obviously, to Cable and Broadcast execs, than the good graces of groups like GLAAD. This is because, network execs are not concerned with ratings, as much as their next job, which will be producing somewhere. Pressure groups such as GLAAD can create enormous stinks, and negative publicity, limiting an exec's future employment as a producer at various production companies, and his ability to find partnerships. Particularly with Gays having a disproportionate influence, compared to their numbers in the population at large, in producing film and television.

Thus, TV and films are increasingly produced not to create an audience or make money, but create jobs for executives who will be joining production companies afterwards.

This is a characteristic of a "bubble economy" with most energy being spent on managers and executives and middle men looking for their next job or money-making assignment, and not actually making money on the current job. Like all bubbles, this too will come to an end, and there are signs coming that the traditional way people see Television and watch movies, i.e. TV sets at home and movie screens at the cinema or cinema-plex, will change radically. This in addition to piracy, at home and abroad, eroding DVD sales volume and prices, and pressed, budget wary consumers, has the potential for winnowing out networks like Syfy or NBC.

Currently, NBC (which unsurprisingly owns SyFy) doesn't care about ratings as much as cable operator fees. Cable and satellite operators must pay SyFy a fee for every subscriber who watches SyFy.* [*I goofed on this one, thanks to poster "Pro Male" for pointing this out, rather cable operators must pay for any household that purchases a package that has the cable channel on it. Naturally this makes being part of the limited basic package a bonus since everyone subscribing will get it. Examples being Discovery Network, USA, etc. It's not a pay-per-viewer, but rather per household that subscribes to the channel, and SyFy is as far as I know, a basic package in most cable and satellite operators offerings. Thanks again to poster "Pro Male." ] This income stream has been remarkably robust and growing, but all good things come to an end. Technology threatens to drop a load of bricks on the delicate model that Hollywood depends on, leaving aside basic economic issues such as keeping cable in a recession for many consumers.

And no, it won't be the "Long Tail" either. More on that soon.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"When the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released its annual Network Responsibility Index"



Straight-up, pun only half-ass-intended, fuck them.


Maybe we need a "Straight&Married NORMAL People-with-children ALLIANCE" to get together and threaten the living shit out of entertainment companies for not producing normal values entertainment for the overwhelming masses of average Joes and Janes everywhere..................or wait, maybe they should just turn off the TV's, but I think they've already done that (look at the ratings), haven't they?


On a related note: maybe we need to see groups like "National Association of White Scholars", "Married Moms with Kids", "Straight Married Responsible Dads" that re-introduce normality and emphasize their overwhelming numbers vis-a-vis these weirdo splinter groups.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I was starting to dislike the Stargate spinoff-- been watching it on DVD-- and I'm really not surprised that they chose it for a sacrificial lamb to the PC gods.

Heck with them and the horse they rode in on.

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

Cable and satellite operators must pay SyFy a fee for every subscriber who watches SyFy.

This isn't entirely correct. Cable and satellite operators must pay SyFy for every household that receives their service regardless of whether than household watches the channel or not. And Syfy is part of the basic package on every service so that means Syfy is getting paid for every household that gets service period.

Like I said the Sci-fi channel (predecessor of "Syfy" is dead due to over a decade of assault by women. Marvin Minsky, an AI researcher at MIT said about science fiction, "General fiction is pretty much about ways that people get into problems and screw their lives up. Science fiction is about everything else." This is why women and gay men hate science fiction. This is why when these gay characters get added, these shows cease to be science fiction. Look at the joke that is Torchwood for the ultimate example.

And I agree that this is a economic bubble. This is the same behavior we saw with realtors (who are mainly female). I'm sure hollywood will try and get a government bailout when everything collapses.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

This is why women and gay men hate science fiction.

I'd say "feminists," actually. There are a surprising number of female sci fi fans, we just tend to get ignored-- something I don't mind, because when they *do* notice us, they pull stupid stuff like this.

Amateur Strategist said...

I get DishNetwork, sadly there is no way to add and remove channels you'd like, namely this "syfy".

Even before the glaad report card, it was losing all of its edge in the worst ways. The only thing I watched there anymore was Twilight Zone, and I have seen every episode now. I'd like to deactivate it mainly to show them you DON'T BACKSTAB YOUR BASE by calling them "nerds" and then claiming to "de-nerd" your channel's name/shows. Heck with them.

Not one of those guys said...

I always say I'm not one of those guys, but Ming-Na and Reiko sounds kind of hot.

Whiskey said...

Pro -- you are quite right and I goofed on that one. It's a pay per household, regardless if anyone watches. Poor editing on my part.

Too right on Torchwood. No accident it came from the most screwed up nation on Earth, Britain. Even the French have more sense (and manliness) than the British.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Sci-Fi, sorry, Syfy jumped the shark a long time ago.

Changing the name to Syfy was just the coup de grace, and I think it was done mainly to score SWPL brownie points at Hollywood elite dinner parties. I mean, it doesn't take Captain Obvious (sorry, I mean Captainette Obvious, who is currently in a three-way lesbian relationship with No-Shit Girl and Miss Duh) to point out that this won't work at all.

The only watchable TV channels nowadays are those which keep cringe-worthy, clumsy social messaging to a minimum, such as Discovery Channel and the like.

I was watching a re-run of Nip/Tuck the other day, and the episode involved a woman who was opposed to homosexuality. Of course she was portrayed as an unlikable fat shrike (not one of the enlightened, beautiful people, you see), and at the end of the episode, would you know it, her irrational homophobia was revealed to be caused by childhood trauma involving homosexuals and promptly cured in a cry-and-hug session. Why, of course all dislike of homosexuals must have such easily curable causes ("human nature" would be a bit too daunting to cure) so as to bring everyone around to the joys of bromance.

The whole thing was completely out left field because it literally added nothing to the show other than the now apparently prerequisite SWPL message of the day, and was so idiotic in its setup, execution and conclusion that I felt like throwing my remote at the TV for treating me like a dumb child who must be rescued from the paws of hick intolerance.

Novaseeker said...

Interesting post. I have a quite a bit to say about this, so I'll reply over at my own place later today.

Anonymous said...

Two posts in two days... don't get my hopes up, W.

Anonymous said...

I have long been aware that non-premium cable channels garner fees from merely being included in the cable lineup. Tsk tsk, Whiskey, I thought that this was common knowledge.

Anyway, this creates a sort of welfare program for entrenched, "old" channels like Sci-Fi. Their only incentive is to get added to packages where they aren't already included, hence their constant efforts to "reach out" to new demos with no regard to potentially alienating their past/current viewer base.

It's funny that a previous Anonymous named the Discovery channel as one that hasn't altered its programming to cater to special interests. In the early days of Discovery, it featured a lot of science shows and solidly educational programming. In recent years, it's become 24/7 reality TV. Go ahead, look at the lineup. It's atrocious. This is the channel that brought us Jon & Kate.

I don't feel like looking them up, but I've read a few MSM articles recently decrying rising cable costs as a result of channel bloat. In my opinion, the problem is not the new channels but the old channels that have abandoned their mission. The Science Channel would not be necessary if Discovery hadn't been completely dumbed down. The numerous sports channels wouldn't be as necessary if ESPN wasn't committed to showing SportsCenter, PTI, Mike & Mike, and ESPN:60 18-21 hours a day. SpikeTV wouldn't be necessary if so many other channels hadn't abandoned programming targeted at men.

Personally, I find the price of cable TV incredibly reasonable for the amount of content that I get. But I do lament the cycle of destruction that results in so many "zombie" channels that continue to exist only because no one cares enough to tell the provider that nobody wants them any more.

LarryD said...

"Look at the joke that is Torchwood for the ultimate example."

Well, that's producer Russell Davies for you. I don't give a whit about that show, but if they muck up Dr Who, I'll be mightily pissed.

Whiskey said...

Good point anon on the zombie channels. I did know that channels like SyFy get money not for viewing but merely being part of the subscription package, but wrote in haste.

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

I don't feel like looking them up, but I've read a few MSM articles recently decrying rising cable costs as a result of channel bloat. In my opinion, the problem is not the new channels but the old channels that have abandoned their mission. The Science Channel would not be necessary if Discovery hadn't been completely dumbed down. The numerous sports channels wouldn't be as necessary if ESPN wasn't committed to showing SportsCenter, PTI, Mike & Mike, and ESPN:60 18-21 hours a day. SpikeTV wouldn't be necessary if so many other channels hadn't abandoned programming targeted at men.

I agree with you about the "zombie channels". The reason why it happened to the older channels is that they all have lower channel numbers (because they are older channels and were there first). Anyone who wants the original programming of the older channel will head to a new channel they create. The lower number/older channels end up competing on how fast they can get someone to stop flipping channels (thus the use of the lowest number channel they have). I don't know this for sure, but I bet that men are more likely to go to specific programming than just flip channels. Thus the older channels all become more crap for women.

In some cases newer channels can become zombie channels too. HDnet is on the verge of becoming a zombie channel (if it isn't there already) because it has lost its purpose due to other hi def channels coming online. Also, all cable and satellite operators want to claim they have the most HD channels so any HD channel will get added quickly. I have Verizon FIOS and they recently added these .tv channels which are HD, but also less than useless. They have hardly any programming. Because of this I suspect these channels will become more crap for women.

Well, that's producer Russell Davies for you. I don't give a whit about that show, but if they muck up Dr Who, I'll be mightily pissed.

No kidding. Russell Davies is gay of course. He created this character from the 51st century who is bisexual although that doesn't really cover him. This character is willing to have sex with anybody and anything, men, women, aliens, ANYTHING. Russell Davies has ADMITTED that this character exists for normalizing the concept that having sex with anything is all right since that is what "everyone will be doing in the 51st century" according to him.

The entire reason Torchwood exists is because that's what he wanted to do to Dr. Who, but the BBC wouldn't let him. (Because Dr. Who historically was a "kids show" and still is to a degree, the BBC grew some balls and stood up to Russell Davies.)

For the next season of Dr. Who in 2010 Steven Moffat is taking over. With Russell Davies gone, it will be interesting to see what happens without Russell Davies.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Omnisexual?

I've seen it a lot in slash fanfic (Which is largely written my women, for some reason)-- Garak was the first character I saw it projected on. Generally, it could be simplified as "he'll screw anything he can have a decent conversation with."

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

Omnisexual?

Yes, omnisexual would be a way to describe that character. I did a search on that character, Capt. Jack Harkness, and I found Russell Davies and the writers describing him using the work omnisexual.

In other words, this is a very intentional promotion of every sexual lifestyle except heterosexuality up to and including sex with aliens.

I've seen it a lot in slash fanfic (Which is largely written my women, for some reason)-- Garak was the first character I saw it projected on. Generally, it could be simplified as "he'll screw anything he can have a decent conversation with."

Don't get me started on slash. This is an example of women (yes, not all women, but lots of them) trying to destroy science fiction. Whether its Star Trek or anything else the entire concept of slash proves that most women don't want fiction that is about anything other than "ways that people get into problems and screw their lives up".

njartist said...

I did not need to know about slash!

The T.V. series "Bones" was ruined for me when one of the female leads went from about to enter into a heterosexual marriage, to promiscuous, and then to a lesbian relationship.

PeterW said...

The gay-pushing may hurt the networks *compared to what they could have had*, but there is no equally good non-gay-pushing content that can compete with it. So as long as the Hollywood cultural group has a monopoly on the good writers and directors, what it wishes to produce will go. They might have a few fewer viewers as a result, but come on, sci-fi fanboys don't have anywhere else to turn.

This will only change when a culturally distinct group (Vancouver, Bollywood, etc.) scrapes together enough funding or talent to seriously compete with Hollywood, and such a change will take a long time to come to fruition. But at least anime, for example, has taken a significant demographic out of the Hollywood cultural monopoly.

SavvyD said...

I stopped watching Brothers and Sisters because I didn't want to watch gay men kiss.

I posted on another comment thread that I don't even want to talk to gays in real life anymore and certainly don't want to watch them in space.

SavvyD said...

picaerme--is that a Spanisch veri word?? Too funny!

If you know Spanish it seems to combine falling and poking oneself. What a hoot!

SavvyD said...

becost-- is that like accost?

OneSTDV said...

Nothing can redeem Heroes. It's atrocious. I left the finale on my DVR for about 2 months because I had absolutely no desire to watch it.

Anonymous said...

This isn't just happening in televised SF.

Look at some of the 'zines. Asimov's has become so PC, anti-Christian, pro-radical gay agenda that it is almost unreadable.

I don't think I've seen a regular white-guy (or regular any guy, for that matter) hero character in one of its stories for months. A writer with Heinlein's sensibilities couldn't get published in it nowadays.

I'm thinking of dropping my subscription.

Anonymous said...

"This is why when these gay characters get added, these shows cease to be science fiction. Look at the joke that is Torchwood for the ultimate example."

Too right, I was creasing up watching that hilariously bad five part special? In addition to the lingering looks between the good looking gay 'Capn Jack' and the ugly gay Yanto and their poofy death kiss there was also a noticeable PC aspect. How come every other soldier with a speaking part was black? Most non-white British soldiers are polynesians.

But the Welsh accents are the funniest bit. Still that Gwen would 'get it' wouldn't she? (see)