Just As I Thought

The Q Word, Fox Style

Thank goodness for the high art of snarkiness practiced by Lisa de Moraes in the Washington Post. Her take on the latest high brow programming from Fox:

Fox Puts Foot in Its Mouth, Kicks Self

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, May 14, 2004; Page C01

There are a lot of things you can say about the folks at the Fox network. You can call them hypocritical for airing racy stuff designed to attract young viewers and then giving Bill O’Reilly an hour of prime time to rant about the entertainment industry on a special called “The Corruption of the American Child.” You might say they’re cruel to animals in airing their “When Animals Attack” specials. You might argue they’re misogynistic because they air a weekly slice-and-dice-a-chick reality show, “The Swan.” But you cannot call them homophobic.

Oh, wait; yes, you can.

Fox issued a stunning news release yesterday for a two-hour reality special called “Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay” in which, the network said, two heterosexual men will try to convince various people that they are gay. In the news release, Fox described the notion of a straight man “turning gay overnight” as “a heterosexual male’s worst nightmare.”

For one week, the two straight guys will “immerse themselves in ‘the gay lifestyle,’ ” the network said.

Is that something like “the Hispanic lifestyle” or “the black lifestyle” or the “single mom lifestyle”? See, already we can’t wait for this show.

It appears that Fox thinks it means moving into an apartment in West Hollywood with actual gay roommates “to experience what it’s like to live life as a gay man.”

Each day, the guys will complete a challenge “to test their ability to pass for gay.” They will come out of the closet to their best friends, Fox said. They will “mix, mingle and dance in gay nightclubs and they’ll even go on a romantic blind date with another man.”

After the two guys are done trying to “pass for gay” on the “outrageously satirical” and “hilarious reality special,” they will be put to a “jury of their queers,” Fox said. Really, they said that.

The jury, made up of gay men “from all walks of life,” will declare which of the two they believe actually is gay.

That lucky guy will win $50,000.

Faster than you can say “what the hell were they thinking?” about 200 times — which was how a number of The Reporters Who Cover Television spent yesterday morning, via e-mails and phone calls to one another — the network sent out a second news release with an abject apology.

“Our failed attempt at humor was ill-chosen and inappropriate,” the network said.

“We sincerely regret its distribution and have attached an edited version,” it added.

The edited version lacks all references to a heterosexual male’s worst nightmare and that “jury of their queers.” The “gay lifestyle” remains, however, still in quote marks.

Contacted for comment, a Fox rep told The TV Column, “We made an error; we moved to correct it as soon as we could and we’re deeply sorry.”

Before receiving Fox’s revised and apologetic news release, we’d called the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to talk to them about it.

“The press release speaks to a very backward stereotype that raises red flags for GLAAD,” said Steve Macias, the organization’s entertainment media director. The show itself, he speculated, probably will be either “flattering” or “tiresome in its premise of yet another straight man pretending to be a gay man.

“This is an old premise — look at ‘Three’s Company,’ for example — show after show of straight men pretending to be gay men so that they can find something for themselves.”

Macias said GLAAD has asked Fox to send a tape of the special and expects it in a day or two.

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