Television isn’t gay enough, says New York Times

16 January 2021

8:46 PM

16 January 2021

8:46 PM

It’s headline news at the New York Times: television is getting less gay! America’s paper of record may be uninterested in obscure matters such as Hunter Biden’s laptop or an Intelligence Committee Democrat falling into a Chinese honeypot, but it will always be there for the stories that really matter, such as de facto press releases from activist groups:

‘For the first time in five years, LGBTQ representation on television decreased, an annual report by the LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD has found.

The percentage of regular characters scheduled to appear on primetime scripted broadcast television who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer decreased to 9.1 percent in the 2020-21 season, from the previous year’s record high of 10.2 percent.’

The Times and other outlets regard this as a most abominable turn of events. The Associated Press quoted GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis, who said ‘We’re hoping that is just a blip and not the beginning of a trend.’

Not a trend! Anything but that! GLAAD cannot tolerate setbacks. The group is calling for at least 20 percent of major characters on television to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, all by the year 2025. Yay!

Neither the AP, nor the Times, seem interested in asking why LGBT characters should make up 20 percent of TV, when according to the CDC they are only 3.5 percent of the population. Being straight is out right now, and being gay is in (no closet needed).

Of course, it’s 2021, not 2013, so the Times isn’t satisfied with pushing one identity-group grievance at a time. Instead, the paper is tracking all kinds of headcounts. Not only is TV too straight by showing gays merely two and a half times as often as they appear in real life. It’s also (recite these words like a prayer and you will understand them better) Too White and Too Male:

‘Representation of women remained unchanged at 46 percent of series regulars on broadcast television, but they are still underrepresented, as they make up 51 percent of the US population, according to the Census Bureau.

The percentage of Black characters on broadcast television remained about the same at 22 percent (slightly down from last season’s 23 percent), while the percentage of Latino characters decreased, to 7 percent from 9 percent.’

Cockburn appreciates that the Times felt it necessary to cite Census Bureau data to remind its readers that, yes, women are about half of the population. Easy to forget! For some mysterious reason, though, the Times does not feel obliged to mention that black Americans are just 13.5 percent of the American population, and thus healthily overrepresented on the nation’s screens. Asians, meanwhile, are so irrelevant to the Times that they aren’t even mentioned at all.

Cockburn has a controversial theory: perhaps the Times’s reporting on television diversity says more about the biases of New York Times writers than it does about the public they are lecturing.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments