National Post Tristan Hopper interviewed Brad Danks, Chief Operating Officer of Out TV, a specialty cable channel aimed at the "gay community". Mr. Danks is lobbying the CRTC to loosen its Canadian content requirements for the channel because the current rule requiring 65% CanCon during the day and 50% during prime time is too onerous.
In reponse to the question "What are your main gay Canadian offerings?" Mr. Danks replied:
We’ve picked up CBC shows like Steven and Chris. We’ve got [the talk show] 1 Girl, 5 Gays, which is made for the Logo [network] by MTV Canada. We’ve also got a number of design shows and fashion-type shows that either have gay hosts or iconic gay figures. We have one show with [interior designer] Sarah Richardson, for example, and she really seems to hit the buttons with a lot of the community.Then there's this exchange:
Do you find yourself needing to stretch the definition of both “gay” and “Canadian?”
Sure, I can think of a few examples. Some of our shows are less “on the nose” gay, but our audience tells us that not every show has to be about drag queens. We play the New Addams Family, for example. It gets good ratings, it’s got a lot of gay characters but it’s not obviously gay.
There’s gay characters in the New Addams Family?
Oh, yeah. There’s all kinds of underpinnings and innuendos. I guess the best way to put it is that it’s a very campy show so it can fill that void — and it’s Canadian content.Ugh. Couldn't they find a show about lesbians in plaid shirts and short haircuts talking about their Subarus while playing softball? I have absolutely no interest in a channel whose programming contains not much more than the time-worn gay stereotypes of interior decorators, fashion designers and campy comedy characters, all of which are already well represented on existing "straight" channels.
I have some unsolicited advice for Mr. Danks: there already is content on TV targeted at the gay community - it's called regular TV. Most gay people lead shockingly normal lives. We live in the suburbs and out in the country, not just in swank condos in urban gay villages. We are accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, civil servants and pro athletes, not just interior decorators and campy drag queens. When we sit down at the end of a long day at work, we like to watch the same news, the same sitcoms, the same hockey games and the same lifestyle channels that straight people do.
In 2006 actor John Stamos starred in a dreadful made-for-TV movie called Wedding Wars. Stamos played (not too convincingly) a gay wedding planner who was arranging his straight brother's wedding. The brother was a speech writer for a Republican governor (played by James Brolin) who had written a speech for his boss opposing gay marriage. Outraged, Stamos led a gay strike in protest, and the rest of the show was about high society grinding to a complete halt as thousands of gay florists, interior decorators, Broadway chorus boys and hair dressers walked off the job in protest. Was there a single gay dentist, electrician, engineer, financial planner or construction worker depicted? No - nothing but flamboyant campy characters who reinforced the worst stereotypes that some straight people have about gays. The show missed a great opportunity to show the true face of today`s gay community.
I'm not surprised that OutTV has gone bankrupt twice before the current owners took charge. They have a business model that relies on tired cliches that are as relevant to the gay community as blackface minstrel shows are to the black community. There's not much need for a gay cable TV channel in today's media universe; most gays are just regular people who like to watch regular TV and not endless reruns of Will and Grace.