Wednesday, August 8, 2007

TV not "Gay" enough

A new report from the Gay and lesbian alliance against defamation (GLAAD) reports that prime time TV is not gay enough. That's right not gay enough. Seriously, why am I here, the jokes are plenty crude on their own, and they pretty much write themselves. I found the report here.

TV is not gay enough, but ABC is getting close. They rated the primetime lineups of the major networks from failing to excellent, and I'll summarize a bit of it.
  • ABC got a rating of "good" with 15% of "gay inclusive TV" in their primetime lineup.
  • CW rated "fair" with 12% gay TV
  • NBC rated "fair" with 9%
  • CBS rated "fair" with 7%
  • FOX rated "failing" with 6%
This list makes me think some math thoughts. (My younger brother once, when doing homework, remarked that math was gay. Coincidence? I don't think so.) If you fail with 6% or less, and are fair with 7%, then this is the cutoff. If we assume a linear scale, then 7-12% would be considered fair, consistent with their stated data. This means 13-18% is considered "good" and 19% or higher is considered "excellent".

Where does the number 6% come from? I would guess it is derived from the fact that someone must fail, and it must be FOX. People really don't like FOX. Except, that is, for television viewers, especially the young people. Top rated networks are CBS and FOX, and, yet, they have the least gay programming.

But, really, who is counting how gay TV is? Why are we doing this? These are the questions that need asking, and answering. How gay is gay enough? How gay is too gay? Having watched some TV in my day, I can assert that some of TV is fairly gay.

Let's take their numbers and ratings seriously for a bit. TV that is gay enough is probably rated good, though they would probably like to see everyone rated excellent. Let's assume "good" starts at 13%. This is like an eighth, and saying primetime is 3 hours a day 7 days a week, means we expect 2-3 hours a week of gay TV, which would be a half hour sitcom every weekday or a gay show on every primetime lineup every other day.

But, they are justified, right? Gay people make up a significant demographic, right? If we consult wikipedia, that repository of all that is true, we find that people will cite between 1 and 10% gay population, but that a critical look at the studies puts a mean around 3-4%. This means in order to simply not fail, you should have twice the population percent representation, and to be good, that should be 3 or 4 times. Not everyone deserves this treatment, but I suppose the underrepresented, or historically (or currently) bashed groups deserve such treatment? It sounds reasonable, right?

Well if we take this for one of the groups who is still misrepresented in America, we see the fallacy of this argument. Catholics are still regularly bashed in the mainstream media and their representation is almost only as a priest abusing kids, or something like that. Catholics represent 24% of the population, and so, in order to not fail, half of all TV should be portraying Catholics accurately and as awesome. 75% of all TV would be "good" and if all TV was properly portraying Catholics, we might consider it, then as "excellent".

There is no reason why we should be counting out the hours and minutes that TV is specifically portraying gays in a specifically positive light. The amount they demand seems high. If TV networks like ABC want to show lots of gay shows, and their advertisers want to support them, fine. If networks like CBS and FOX want to not show much gay TV, and people want to watch that, also fine. The market seems to work just fine. Except for the Catholics. That's what you get for being a majority and a minority. (Catholics are by far the largest Christian sect, but still there are twice as many total Protestants.)

This was at one point the end of the post, but I decided to look a little more into this. A quote from their website is quite telling:
The airwaves quite literally belong to each and every one of us, and, as such, networks have an obligation to reflect the faces and stories of their viewers.
Oh, really? Is that how the airwaves work? This is part of the entitlement mentality. The homosexuals feel entitled to TV time. How much? However much they want, that's how much. If each group wanted proper representation that would essentially mean we need to count out each little statistic, and make sure each group gets represented. Also, therefore, if we are going to do that, we need to make sure no group gets overrepresented. This is where the logic leads. 70% white, whatever precent black, hispanic, asian, etc. 3-4% gay (definitely no more than 10%), 52% protestant, 24% catholic, only 2% mormon, no more than 1% jewish. Nobody is expecting, nor advocating this, but this is where the logic leads. What the various groups want, really is the white christian to be represented 0% and the rest of TV be divided up among the various minorities. Sigh...

In case you were wondering, I laughed every line I read and wrote.


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