We wrote the following about the consolidation of ownership in stock-photo agencies:
Your choices are Getty and Corbis. Make your selection now.
We worry about media concentration in Canada. We should be worrying about media concentration in the gay scene. (The “homosexualist” scene, to deploy the gorevidalism.)
The Advocate survived for decades as a fortnightly gay newsmagazine. Later, Out, led by sexy Michael Goff (previously the assistant of designer Roger Black, later a Microsoft petit fonctionnaire, now a superimpressive vulture capitalist; see “Yin Eats Yang”), tried to poach their turf with a fluffier, more asinine, but better-looking monthly. (Designer? Investor? Roger Black!) Then there are the raft of “gay in-flight magazines,” plus city papers all over the place.
Online, PlanetOut battled with Gay.com for top and bottom status. PlanetOut is led by media starlet Megan Smith, whose gf unit Kara Swisher writes for the storied Wall Street Journal. (The lovebirds even correspond in public, in a twee, rarefied simulacrum of a Weblog.)
Gay.com, as befitting its generic name, lacks a comparably sexy Übergruppenführer.
But in February 2000, the Advocate bought Out, which had churned through editors like perforators through chad (or F-16s through Somalia). The Advocate’s parent, Liberation Publications, also owns Alyson, the book publisher. We had an American gay print monopoly. (It’s even worse even than we’re explaining here. Read this explication.)
Minutes later, PlanetOut bought the Advocate, pretty much shocking everybody with its AOL-snatches-Time-Warner chutzpah.
Oh, wait. Let’s let Megan say it.
“It is the gay and lesbian version of the Time Warner–AOL merger,” Smith said in an interview with Reuters. “The focus is to be this new, integrated media company which will touch the customer 24 hours a day.”
What an unfortunate but revealing choice of words. The gay-media monopoly wants to touch you 24 hours a day. Totalitarianism – in high heels and plaid flannel shirts.
(Insert Gahan cartoon from National Lampoon: Worried elves sweep and labour in a workshop. Posters show stern, Big Brother–like Santa: “He sees you when you’re sleeping! He knows when you’re awake!”)
Now PlanetOut and Gay.com are merging. Apart from the in-flight magazines and city papers, there will now be one gay media outlet in the U.S.
Your choices are PlanetOut, Gay.com, the Advocate, and Out. Make your selection now.
Think TV will come to the rescue? Oh, please. This isn’t England. There’s effectively no gay coverage on TV. Gay.com sponsors the tediously correct, soporific, and middlebrow PBS institution In the Life. PlanetOut “streams” Queer Television. Of course, they’re nominally separate entities. Nominally.
Our diverse gay communities are constantly beating their pierced chests about diversity. Anyone who self-declares as gay, lesbiana, bisexualist, transsexualist/transgenderist, or “questioning” and plays any kind of race or gender card can cause the entire infrastructure of leftist gay mainstream culture to turn on a dime to meet their demands. (This has nothing to do with real diversity, as leading mainstream American gay organizations found out when Eric Plunkett, a deaf gay man, was murdered at Gallaudet. Even coverage in the Advocate, a publication that’s had decades to set up an audiotape or Braille version, betrayed vast disability ignorance.) Diversity is self-evidently one of the strengths of the diverse gay, lesbiana, bisexualist, transsexualist/transgenderist, and “questioning” communities.
However, this diversity is increasingly illusory. There will be no true diversity in American gay media coverage from now unto the moment of Armageddon, merely interlinked synergistic “consumer brands.”
By the way, are you looking for independent coverage of this new monopolist-in-formation? Where are you going to get it, apart from this modest Weblog? Straight media barely understand gay culture and treat PlanetOut and Gay.com as targeted niche “investment opportunities” (read this story on the deal’s “investor potential”). Straight coverage is glancing. (Any outlet that isn’t queer-specific is a straight outlet. We’re sure liberals will be outraged at this declaration of reality.)
You don’t think this is a monopoly? What other gay news sources are you gonna look at? PlanetOut owns everything. (The estimable but small-scale Weblog WebQueeries, Outsports, and the Gay Financial Network aren’t even in the same industries.) PlanetOut’s announcement and Gay.com’s are identical. Merger releases usually are, of course. It would be cynical to view this as the inauguration of a future monopolist pattern.
Are you in favour of a “diversity” of voices online (and in old media, for that matter)? Just where is that diversity in our diverse gay communities?
Posted on 2000-11-22