Ellen Degeneres; ten year anniversary
I missed an interesting anniversary earlier this week. April 30th was the ten year anniversary of the over-hyped Ellen Degeneres coming-out episode, where she used her then failing ABC sitcom to announce her lesbianism to the world.
That particular event had been hyped during the entire 1996-1997 television season. As I recall, the radio ads and the TV promos for each episode hinted that this week might be THE week where Ellen might finally end the suspense and reveal whether she is a lesbian or not. By the time April rolled around, the suspense was over. The actual announcement in Time magazine and the special one hour, two part episode became an anti-climax. [I don't remember whether the ratings for that particular episode were good, although I suspect that they were.] In light of the past decade, the whole over-hyped event seems quaint now.
That particular sitcom had begun three years earlier on ABC with some success, but the ratings had gradually declined until this "controversy" temporarily spiked viewership. By the following season, the novelty had worn off, the ratings were worse than ever and the show was cancelled in the spring of 1998.
In 1998, Ellen herself commented that someday we would all wonder what had been the big deal in the first place. She made this commentary as part of a special episode where she and her cast portrayed or reenacted controversial moments from television history during previous decades. This comment has proven to be accurate, but only because the networks have beaten us to death with homosexuality since the mid-to-late 1990s.
I recall the April 12, 1997 episode of Saturday Night Live, in which Sheri Oteri played a lesbian character on "Weekend Update." This skit was SNL's contribution to the Ellen hype. The point of the skit was to ridicule NBC preemptively by accusing NBC of pandering to the lesbian angle. Oteri's character, Mickey the Dyke, used the skit to announce that NBC would copy ABC by featuring lesbians in every program, including sports, news, sitcoms, drama, etc. I am going purely from memory here, but I clearly recall Oteri gleefully announcing, "Lesbian! Lesbian! Lesbian!"
Mickey the Dyke
This skit was clearly intended as a joke and an insult to NBC, but it turned out to be even more prophetic than Ellen's prediction. Network programming would soon become an almost exclusive bastion of homosexuality.
- At the beginning of that same season (1996-1997), ABC's "Spin City" had debuted with a regular gay character.
- Also during that season, ABC's "Roseanne" converted one of its regular characters into a lesbian for the show's final season.
- In the fall of 1997, NBC debuted "Veronica's Closet", which featured a character that was constantly ridiculed for denying his own homosexuality.
- By fall 1998, NBC would premiere "Will and Grace."
- In the fall of 1998, a minor homosexual character would return to ABC's "NYPD Blue" and assume a much more prominent role.
- HBO's "Sex and the City" debuted in 1998, featuring numerous gay characters over the next six years and one major co-star that veered into lesbianism for a brief period.
- Around 2000 [I don't remember exactly when], a major character on NBC's "ER" would turn into a lesbian.
- In 2000, Showtime debuted "Queer as Folk," which lasted about five seasons.
- In 2000, CBS debuted "Survivor," in which a gay naked fat man played a prominent role. Future reality shows would also feature homosexuals in prominent roles.
- In 2001, HBO debuted "Six Feet Under," featuring a gay lead character.
- In the early part of this decade, a character on ABC's "Once and Again" appeared to be headed in the lesbian direction at the time the show was cancelled.
- Also during this decade, new characters on "NYPD Blue" and NBC's "Law and Order" would announce their homosexuality in plot twists that went nowhere, shortly before those characters would disappear.
- NBC's "Bravo" network debuted "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" in 2003.
- In 2003, Reno 911 debuted on Comedy Central, featuring a flamboyantly gay police lieutenant.
- Around 2004-2005, the Canadian series "Degrassi" began depicting homosexual affairs between and among high school students (some of which featured actors that were barely of legal age for the scenes in which they played).
- Numerous episodes of CW's "Veronica Mars" feature persecuted gay guest characters.
- I recall a few failed series during this time that featured gay main characters, but they survived too briefly for me to remember their names. They were cheap imitations of Will and Grace and did not earn decent ratings.
- In 2005, CBS debuted "Numb3rs", featuring a gay main character.
- The current CBS show "The Class" features at least one regular gay character.
- The current ABC series "Brothers and Sisters" features a gay main character and repeated exposure to his romantic life.
These programs consume many hours of prime time programming, most of them on network television. I have not included movies or the self-outing of numerous celebrities over the past ten years. The cumulative effect of these Hollywood products has been gradually to ratchet up the homosexuality factor in our mass media. We have reached the point where it has become almost a prerequisite for a television show to include a homosexual character if it hopes to gain a slot in the primetime lineup.
The homosexual revolution is now so old that many of the homosexual shows from the 1990's or early part of this decade are now syndicated on weekends or late at night. It is entirely possible that not a day goes by without a homosexual television program being aired somewhere on American television. But it is rare that network television programs show people in church. Do homosexuals, in fact, outnumber churchgoers? The MSM/DNC would have us believe so.
Is Ellen Degeneres responsible for the homosexual revolution in television? Despite the timing of her self-outing and the above programs, I believe the answer is no. The revolution was coming anyway. Ellen Degeneres simply jumped in front like the rooster announcing the sunrise. She milked her own outing for a year to shore up ratings for a failing show. The MSM/DNC was happy to accomodate her by fueling the publicity and speculation. That very publicity throughout 1996-1997 then paved the way for the deluge which has rained homosexuality upon the rest of us for the past ten years.
This part is educated speculation, but I cannot believe that the homosexual revolution in television happened because of one program. Other programs, like "Friends" and "Melrose Place", had dabbled in homosexuality in the early to mid-1990's. I believe that twenty five years after the "Rural purge" and other such milestones, television was ready for yet another of its many mini-revolutions. In this case, homosexuals had been gravitating to Hollywood for generations. They had toiled away on shows that they hated. They worked in silence. They wrote and produced shows about puppies, children, families and other non-gay subjects. They suffered in silence. But at a certain point, they had risen in the industry and amassed enough people and power that they could impose their own agenda.
The ten year gay parade that has graced our television sets did not result from gray haired TV executives suddenly becoming "tolerant" of the poor oppressed homosexuals. It has resulted, instead, from the homosexuals gradually seizing positions of authority in Hollywood to the point where all other points of view are suppressed. We are living under a virtual mass media homosexual dictatorship. In other words, we didn't give them network television. They took it.
If we want network television to reflect the fact that people, in fact, attend church in this country, we must do what the homosexuals have done. We must travel to Hollywood. We must work on programs we hate. We must bide our time. We must never forget that Hollywood hates us, America and everything Christian. We must develop our own persecution complex similar to that of the homosexuals. [Although in our case we have good reason for such a complex.] We must long for the day when we can present a Christian program that does not ridicule the faithful.
update - Mark Steyn reprints a column from 10 years ago.
I have updated the program list above.