A few weeks ago, Funny or Die released its “Prop 8 – The Musical” parody that did not go over well with the Religious Right.
But now its parent company looks to have made a move that just might make it all up to them. Among the various other new media sites it has been rolling out is one called Great Americans, which is “focused on the men and women who serve our nation in uniform” and celebrating “their lives, their service, their sacrifice, and their example to us all.”
That, in itself, is not all that interesting. But what is interesting, as uncovered by Andrew Wallenstein of the Hollywood Reporter, is that the site is being run by Matt Daniels, who just so happens to be the former head of the Alliance for Marriage and the man almost single-handedly responsible for the Federal Marriage Amendment:
But if GreatAmericans.com is an unlikely addition to the Or Die family, its charter member might strike an even odder presence. Creator and executive producer Matt Daniels introduces himself on the site’s home page in a video in which he descends a subway escalator in a rough section of Harlem, where he grew up poor. He tells us he might never have survived were it not for role models in his life, thus inspiring a Web site that serves as a showcase for other heroes.
But what Daniels doesn’t mention, nor does the news release that announced the site’s launch, is his claim to fame: Five years ago, Daniels was a leading opponent of legalizing gay marriage and even authored a proposed constitutional amendment banning the practice. As founder of Alliance for Marriage, he emerged as a high-profile figure in the conservative movement one election cycle before the gay-marriage issue exploded in the form of California’s Proposition 8.
Of course, both Daniels and Or Die Networks insist that his current venture has nothing to do with his past activities:
In an interview, Daniels indicates that he no longer is with AFM and his new enterprise is unrelated to his previous efforts.
“Anybody looking at the portal and what is actually being promoted, what is actually being celebrated, can make their own judgment on the face of what we represent, and we’ll stand by that,” he says. “This is an utterly and completely different venture.”
Or Die Networks CEO Dick Glover does not see Daniels’ background, of which he was aware, as relevant.
“One of the very big issues, and it was very extensively discussed, is that this site is not a political site,” he says. “Political views don’t matter if it’s not a business issue.”
But as Wallenstein notes, such disclaimers might not cut it with some of its other sites founders, stars, or customers:
As Daniels attests, there is nothing overtly ideological about GreatAmericans.com. Still, having Daniels in the Or Die camp is ironic given his new associates. Not only did Funny Or Die recently stage a star-studded mock musical salute to overturning Prop 8 featuring Jack Black, John C. Reilly and Neil Patrick Harris, but also the company’s investors include HBO, long a bastion of gay-friendly programming.
Or Die Networks might not think its a big deal to partner with, and offer a platform to, the man responsible for the Federal Marriage Amendment, but we are guessing that there are a lot of other people out there who might disagree.