How web-based shows will change your view of mainstream media.
PART 1: Do We Really Have To Stop Now?
A little while ago, I wrote a column called Raining On The Gay Parade, in which I implied (see also: flat-out stated) the gay community has a lemming*-esque reaction to anything pitched as gay – movies, TV, books, music and community representatives, regardless of their actual worth. Then I ranted that we should be a more discerning, demanding audience, and finished by complaining about The L Word. You know - the usual.
What I didn't do, was suggest alternatives to the crap we're dealt, which makes me about as useful as a penis in a dyke bar. And I never, ever, ever, want to be compared to a penis. Never.
So today I'm posting the first in a three-part series on kick-ass alternatives. (This one's mostly for the ladies, but if you want to send me a link for the boys, please do so.) Since I'm such an up-to-date, tech-savvy child of the social-networking revolution, I'll be talking to you about New Media. In this case, the Wonderful World of Webisodes.
Never heard of a webisode? You'll be hearing the word a lot, so if you're not down already with netspeak, you'd best get acquainted. Web-based "TV" shows are the way of the future. Episodic series' pumped straight to the interwebz, without the need for mainstream ratings, TV executives or advertising dollars, means these shows can match and eclipse the content of anything "gay" you've seen on your TV for a very long time.
I'm not going to give you a history of Webries, or a definitive list of what's out there, but I do want to talk about three particular shows: Two that are so unmissable, so awesomesauce that I cream myself, and one that is most notable for its ground-breaking creation. So here we go.
We Have To Stop Now.
Firstly, Suzanne Westenhoefer. If you are a lesbian (though I pose this to everyone regardless of gender or orientation), and you do not recognise this name, you have been missing out on one of the greatest things lesbianism has to offer (the others being, of course, guiltless leg-hair growth and the comfort of a good vagina). Susan Westenhoefer is a comedienne for which the word hilarious does not suffice.
I'm gushing? Well, she's funny. I dig funny.
How about Jill Bennett? Or Cathy DeBuono? I could list their starring roles and TV achievements, but since we're in Oz, you won't recognise any of the gay stuff because WE DON'T GET IT HERE. Mainstream whatsits include Beverly Hills 90210, Star Trek: DS9, Dante's Cove, Becker – they've accumulated a lot of screen time between them, and are outrageously talented actresses, but really, I'd like to let these photos speak for themselves:
Need I say more?
Probably not, but I will.
We Have To Stop Now is a show about a lesbian couple, Dyna (DeBuono) and Kit (Bennett), both therapists, who are seeing a therapist ("Susan", played by Westenhoefer), to save their failing relationship. Reasonably straightforward, except that Dyna and Kit have recently released a relationship guide book and its popularity depends on their problems being kept on the down-low. Add to the mix a camera man following their every move for publicity, and Kit's "dead beat" sister coming to stay on their couch, and tensions are running high for this surface-perfect duo.
WHTSN combines two of my favourite things: witty, side-splittingly dry humour; and Hot Chicks. (I never said I was noble.) Seriously, I would crawl across the desert just to sweat in Cathy DeBuono's shadow. But that aside, the dialogue is first-rate, the performances are brilliant and the production value is exceptional, particularly considering these ladies are funding and filming everything without the backing of a network or advertising budget.
So what will it cost you?
Season 1 of We Have To Stop Now was free, is free and will remain, to the best of my knowledge, free. Jump onto http://www.wehavetostopnow.tv/wehavetostopnow/Home.html and hit the Season 1 tab, and all 9 parts (7 webisodes), each between 5 and 9 minutes long, are ready for your viewing pleasure. And let me say, when the ladies get down and dirty in House Standing Part Deux, your viewing pleasure will be IMMENSE. I died a little bit, in the happiest of ways.
Season 2 promises to be packed with some amazing guests, including hot-and-hilarious Erin Foley, Meredith Baxter (OMG Mrs Keaton is a homo; could Mallory be next plz?), Sandra Valls and a bunch of other shag-tastic leading lesbians, and of course more Jill, Cathy and Suzanne, but it will come at a cost: $24 USD ($27 AUD) - and I call that a BARGAIN.
I just checked, and that's five bucks LESS than you'd pay for a season of The L Word (at JB Hi-fi). Which, in turn, is three-times as much as the final season of The L Word is even worth. No - ten times as much. Need I rant again about the face-slap of the finale?
Eh – I'm not here to sell you things. But I will push We Have To Stop Now Season 1 like a drug-addled crack dealer, because you'll be very glad I did.
Webisodes are the way of the future – particularly for gay media, because our voices and images are so often drowned out by the roar of the "mainstream".
Right now, queers are told we are too few to be profitable, too minor to be regularly represented and too misunderstood to be shown honestly and fairly on TV – not as the flamboyant, bitchy queer, or the murderous lesbian; the unpalatable leather man or femme-fatale "bisexual" (who only ever dates men) - But we're not.
Instead of seeming grateful for transparent pandering and barely disguised contempt from mainstream media, and gushing about the greatness of gay-but-ultimately-crap products, people and shows, we should be supporting the women (and men) who make quality product for us, about us and in an environment fuelled only by belief, creativity and a trickle of personal cash.
This support will not only ensure the future of Hot Chicks delivered directly into your... viewing pleasure, it may even give the mainstream, "popular" media a wake-up call: We gays are not a simple people. We will not eat shit with a spoon and a grin. And the Pink Dollar is really more black-and-white – It pays to do more than pander to us.
And that's the Naked truth.
I should stop now.
Continued: Part 2 - Desperately Seeking Simone. Then, Part 3 - When Otalia lesbians strike back, Venice: The Series.
* I know real lemmings don't actually follow-the-leader into a fatal display of mindlessness over cliffs, but I'm sticking with it.
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