Viacom recently announced that its plan to create a gay and lesbian culture channel, co-managed by the gay-friendly MTV and Showtime networks, has been shelved. Here's one good reason: NBC's Bravo network is rapidly becoming the go-to gay channel.
A quick check of the Bravo Web site on July 17 finds promotion for the upcoming dating show "Boy Meets Boy," a gay-male reality dating show a la "The Bachelor," with the twist that some of the "gay" bachelors are really playacting heterosexuals. The site also promotes their airing of the 1999 movie "Flawless" with this sentence: "Can a homophobic stroke victim and a flamboyant drag queen help each other find self-esteem?" Traditional values are so misguided they've become an illness. Don't you love those films where the ultraconservative character recovers from the illness of his ways?
But the first blooming flower of this cultural revolution was "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which premiered on Tuesday, July 15, to record numbers for Bravo. Their ratings at that hour rose from No. 38 to No. 2. Bravo quickly planned a rerun for Thursday to build viewership.
The premise of the show is for a "Fab Five" of gay men to "transform a style-deficient and culture-deprived straight man from drab to fab" in each of their respective categories: fashion, food and wine, interior design, grooming and culture. Bravo's publicity copy also explained: "Straight guys turn in their pleats for flat fronts, learn about wines that don't come in a jug and come to understand why hand soap is not a good shampoo (and vice versa). When the journey is done, a freshly scrubbed, newly enlightened, ultra-hip man emerges."
And I want to vomit.
Tom Shales of The Washington Post objected to the "stereotypes on parade" in this series, and I agree. It's stereotypical to think of only gay men as top-notch connoisseurs of food, wine, culture, design and grooming. How heterophobic. It's the Gay Supremacy Hour. I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads Bravo's ad copy and wonders if we're talking hate crimes here. Ever seen a show more dedicated to a "straight-bashing" proposition?
Try this idea for a show, and tell me how many seconds it would last in a Hollywood pitch session: "A team of five fabulous straight guys teach a masculinity-deprived gay man how to throw a football, hunt for game, drink something manlier than fruity wine coolers and appreciate the fiction of Tom Clancy. When the journey is done, a newly enlightened, ultra-manly man emerges."
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