Fox Network's successful reality show Election 2008 has drawn harsh fire this week from gay activists.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) issued a press release yesterday, listing as top anti-gay offender on broadcast television Fox Network's highly rated new reality show Election 2008.
The new show debuted last fall to initially lackluster ratings but took a dramatic swing into popularity after New Year's Day, quickly rising to the coveted number one slot among current broadcast prime time programming.
Election 2008 is a competition/reality show wherein a group of contestants are stranded in various election primary locations with little more than their Bluetooth phones and the millions of dollars in their campaign 'war chests'.
The contestants start off divided into two teams that compete against each other, with each team forced to vote fellow members off; when the numbers are reduced to a few contestants, the teams then merge and it's everyone for him- or herself. The lone survivor of this process takes home the office of U.S. president.
The show is set in Washington and features the mad-cap antics of various contenders for the office of next U.S. president. John Travolta and Emma Thompson reprise their Primary Colors roles as a former U.S. president and wife, while Oscar-winner Denzel Washington plays the plucky up-and-coming 'person of color' in the presidential free-for-all.
Harrison Ford was originally slated to play an aging Republican war-hero and political contender but salary negotiations fell through, leaving the part open to fellow Oscar-winner Gene Hackman.
GLAAD has repeatedly criticized the show's lack of gay characters, finally issuing a full media alert yesterday after reports that Fox had actually turned down Ellen Degeneres for Emma Thompson's Election 2008 role as New York senator and former First Lady. GLAAD is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
GLAAD urges a viewers boycott of Election 2008 and Fox Network programming in general until a casting compromise can be reached.
GLAAD additionally claims the Fox competition/reality show is badly written, entirely lacking in believable characters or plots, and liberally littered with clichéd dialogue.
Fox Network representatives are quick to respond to the bad writing charges, citing unresolved contract problems with screenwriters as cause, but shrug off charges of bigotry.
"We have a woman, a Mormon, a geriatric Vietnam vet, a colored man and I don't know what else, all scratching each other's eyes out for votes and delegates," exclaimed show creator Mark Burn-itt, "now if that's not a recipe for good family fun, I don't know what the hell is."
Early indications suggest that the GLAAD call to boycott is being ignored by viewers of all sexual orientations.
"With the screenwriter's strike fallout leaving many shows scriptless and dead-in-the-water, entertainment-starved television viewers are willing to watch just about anything," said one top-level Fox executive.
"No way is anyone gonna boycott this show."
GLAAD representatives were unable to take time from television viewing to comment on this story.
Tragic Rabbit, USA Tomorrow, Hollywood