Disclaimer: I’m going into serious ‘naughty’ word land, and if you’re a sensitive soul, you must be a new reader. To quote my SO, “Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck!”
God help me, I’m agreeing with FOX.
This has been a banner TV year for me. First, I’m in love with a show on UPN (namely Veronica Mars, and if you’re not watching it, you’re the asshole). Secondly, here I am in December, standing up (metaphorically) and going ‘Hell yeah! You go, FOX!’
Oh it hurts so bad.
To explain this, I’m going to backtrack to this past Super Bowl, when Justin Timberlake ‘accidentally’ popped Janet Jackson’s shirt off and flashed her boob to the world for a second. I was actually watching that and saw it. I blinked, asked Ipstenit “Was that a nipple ring?” She replied, “I think it was a nipple guard.” We made a couple chastity belt comments, and moved on. I had assumed that the ‘surprise’ for this show, about which much ado had been made, was either Timberlake’s appearance itself, or that Michael Jackson was going to come onstage. Now that the boob was flashed, I assumed it was flashy tits (tm The Full Monty).
Personally, I think that the tit waggle was entirely intentional. First, I know of no one who would wear the nipple shield every day and I know a lot of kinks. It’s uncomfortable and metal, so I assume it’s not pleasing to wear. Secondly, if your wardrobe can accidentally unhinge one boob, then you need to publicly decry the designer. That is not a Mackey Rag (tm Carol Burnette and Mr. Bob Mackey, whom I’ve actually met). Finally, was anyone else surprised by how fucking short Janet Jackson is? Justin’s at least a foot taller, and since Michael and Janet Jackson are around the same height, I’ve determined he’s dinky.
Tits and Jacksons aside, everyone was hyper-aware of the FCC after the Stupid Bowl. CBS was smacked with a fine of $27,500 on each of 20 CBS-owned affiliates that showed broadcast of half-time show. That’s about $550,000. I make more than $27,500 a year, though I’d rather not have to fork it up all at once, and I consider that fine to be pretty low. That’s also the Maximum fine the FCC can fork up. Quoth FCC Chairman Michael Powell, “No television event has ever received as many complaints from the American public — over 540,000 — as the Super Bowl XXXVIII half-time show produced by CBS. Indecency determinations, however, must be made cautiously and with appropriate restraint.”
A few days later, Clear Channel (a radio conglomerate) was ganked for $755,000 for playing a sexually explicit radio show, “Bubba the Love Sponge”, 26 times. Apparently there are a lot of episodes. They’re also being fined an additional $40,000 for record keeping violations. Looking further back, in 2002 there was a radio station whose jockeys, Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia (a.k.a “Opie and Anthony”) had a bit where they aired a segment featuring descriptions of a couple having sex in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The couple was excommunicated, if I recall correctly, and the radio station was tagged with a $357,500 fine.
The largest cumulative fine for indecency was $1.7 million paid by Infinity Broadcasting in 1995 for various violations by radio host Howard Stern.
Tom Lehrer, and I quoted from his smog ‘Smut’ up above, once said “I do have a cause though. It is obscenity. I’m for it. Unfortunately the civil liberties types who are fighting this issue have to fight it owing to the nature of the laws as a matter of freedom of speech and stifling of free expression and so on but we no what’s really involved: dirty books are fun. That’s all there is to it. But you can’t get up in a court and say that I suppose. It’s simply a matter of freedom of pleasure, a right which is not guaranteed by the Constitution unfortunately.” (This is on his album That Was the Year That Was, which every social deviant should own). And he’s so right. If they weren’t fun, the novelty of buying a Playboy just because your mom doesn’t want you to, would wear off by the time you were 18.
The most famous foul mouthed tart of them all is, of course, George Carlin, which I find amusing. Go listen to Chris Rock or Richard Pryor and tell me that their shit is neither funny as fuck or dirty as shit. Yeah, Google’s going to have a field day with this on. On an amusing note, George Carlin’s website is blocked from my office firewall. That said, there’s enough I can scope on a Google for ‘George Carlin FCC case’ that will fill in the details.
The thing about George Carlin, whom I adore and revere even though I hate the fact that he doesn’t vote, is that his 12 minute monologue officially called the “Seven dirty words you can’t say on television” but also referred to as the “Filthy Words” monologue, is the basis for all the crap the FCC is pulling now. There. I said it. If you somehow missed hearing about all this, and we first discussed it in my American History class, junior year of high school, in 1978 a radio station owned by Pacifica Foundation Broadcasting out of New York City was doing a program on contemporary attitudes toward the use of language. This broadcast occurred on a mid-afternoon weekday. Immediately before the broadcast the station announced a disclaimer telling listeners that the program would include “sensitive language which might be regarded as offensive to some.”
I flat out refuse to blame Carlin for this mess, mind. He didn’t hold a gun to the head of the radio station and make them play it. He didn’t make that idiot father who, while driving in the car with his kid, not change the station. In point of fact, there was a disclaimer! The dad, however, called the FCC and bitched about it. The FCC, bless them, did their job and fined Pacifica. The fine was challenged and, after a lot of trial and tribulation, went to the Supreme Court, where the FCC was granted the power to regulate radio broadcasts that are indecent but not obscene. Translation, the FCC can only regulate broadcasts. They can not censor broadcasts, that is determine what is offensive in the matters of speech.
Twenty-five years later, Janet flashes tit and everyone freaks.
I’m resentful of the fact that our government gets to regulate what is and isn’t naughty. While the only one of Carlin’s dirty words that I dislike is cunt (which is why it’s the heading down here), I can accept the fact that my in-laws won’t say ‘darn’ because it’s too close to ‘damn’ and my own grandmother says ‘fuck you’ a lot. Love you, Taf!
This partly has to do with the fact that I’ve realized I only agree with 49% of my nation’s voters (the other 51% of you, including you Mom, sorry, are dolts for voting for Bush). But it’s also the same reason I hate the Click-It-Or-Ticket laws in Illinois. “Secure the blessings of liberty” my ass. The over-regulation of the government makes people less and less accountable for their actions, thus giving them the perceived freedom of choice without the responsibility of decision.
That and I don’t want the government telling me what’s wrong in that sense. If I’m hurting someone to the point that their life is affected, then yes, by all means, punish me. Murder, theft, rape, abuse. But saying ‘fuck’ isn’t abuse. I’ll concede that swearing at someone can be abusive, and I’m all for nailing people to the wall for that sort of thing. But. Gay sex ain’t a crime. Saying ‘Damn hell ass kings! isn’t a crime. And changing the mother fucking station when you decide that something offends you, isn’t a crime.
So how does FOX play in with all this? The FCC dinged FOX for $1.18 million for some racy bachelor party on their show “Married by America.” By the way, no one actually got married, which is par for the course on this sort of show. FOX claims that the government’s indecency rules for broadcast television are unconstitutional because they don’t apply to cable and satellite television. Which I support. You can’t say that ‘cocksucker’ is okay for the goose, but the gander can only say ‘asshole.’ Not to mention that FOX says the show’s not indecent. It’s lame, I grant you, but they’re right. The show wasn’t indecent, it was stupid. On top of that, they had disclaimers, they had warnings, and they rated it so that if you had a V-chip, you wouldn’t see it.
What happened on the show, if you’re like me and the rest of America and didn’t bother watching the schlock, is that the bachelor party included topless female dancers, a female contestant licking whipped cream from the chest of a male stripper and several other examples of debauchery. Okay, we’re moving into raunchy, and I realize that I’m not the best person to judge (I’m blasï¿½ about nudity). Still. that’s the sort of thing I see and go ‘Huh. Well, what else is on?’ and change the channel. The FCC got 159 complaints and decided that the show was ‘patently offensive’ and fined FOX for showing it on primetime, when kids might watch. Even though nudity was heavily pixilated, the sexual nature of the scenes (which ranked 105 seconds long, total) was ‘inescapable.’ Unless you changed the channel.
Here’s the kicker, and hold on to your hats. Out of the 159 complaints, 155 were identical. That’s right, 155 complaints that were exactly the same, and 4 that weren’t. Given that outside of the Janet Jackson matter, the Parents Television Council filed 99.9% of indecency complaints from January to early October, according to Mediaweek, I’m betting that the conservative PTC freaks are the ones who called in about “Married by America.”
These are the same idiots who make CSI put up a warning label for the episode where there’s spouse swapping (a swinger’s party) and transgender folks being murdered, but almost never for the ‘common’ occurrences of rape, pillage, etc. They also hate CSI in general, but come on. It’s a show called crime scene investigation. Were you expecting fluffy bunnies?
People argue that the laws are there to protect children from offensive media influences. Gee. Here I thought that was what parents were for. If we need the law to make it so that a child only watches Barney or what have you, then the problem isn’t the TV station. It’s the parent. Yes, I say this from the lofty arrogance of ‘I have no children’ but seriously.
No one wants to take personal accountability for their own actions, and the PTC isn’t helping. Until each and every one of us stands up, takes action for what we want to watch, and vote with our clickers, the TV shows are going to remain ‘lewd.’ If you stop watching the shows, the stop making money and they go off the air, it’s that simple.
So I root for FOX, even though I don’t watch a single show on their station. Except Quints and that 70s Show.