Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Today's broadcast of Fresh Air on NPR discusses the FCC and censorship issues. Terry Gross interviews four different people and discusses issues of censorship as well as the confusion among producers and broadcasters concerning what will or will not earn them fines. And this is a big issue currently as the FCC levies larger and larger fines while the concept of what content earns fines becomes more difficult for everyone to decide.

The final interview is with Tim Winter who is the executive director of Parent's Television Council. What he has to say, in my opinion, is mostly a steaming pile of crap. What many of these people end up saying in different ways is very telling of our growing desire in the US to let go of the responsibilities we should all have as parents. For the most part, these people seem to get it all wrong for the least mentioned of reasons.

Tim Winter referred to the Super Bowl/Janet Jackson boob shot as a striptease. This to me is indicative of the current wave of wording things in a way that is not accurate but is intended solely to ignite a certain passion. A brief view of booby is not a striptease, and considering the overabundance of commercials for drugs to help men achieve erections, one must ask why we are still so worried about a boob. Impotence drugs are much more likely to raise questions from kids that parents may want to avoid. My children are well aware of and unconcerned with a woman's breast, but they are at a young age at which I feel they are not yet ready for discussions of sex, and of these two subjects, male erections would seem more deserving of censorship.

Tim Winter further categorizes anyone with problems with censorship as people who want to get away with anything they want. He would demonize producers, writers, singer and any number of people, painting them as irresponsible. Once again, rather than honesty, we are served inflammatory language intended solely to incite the passions.

Who is to blame here though? Are the people doing the cussing guilty of corrupting young minds? How much blame should the parents shoulder for allowing their children to view things that may be inappropriate? I am very much able to understand the sorts of things my children may be exposed to, and I understand that I am the one tasked with raising and teaching them.

It is not government's place nor is it television's place to raise my children. I certainly expect some amount of understanding from the networks in what they air, and I have certain expectations of different channels based on their target audience. For this same reason, while I may let my children watch certain shows, I know to change the channel during commercial breaks on certain networks at certain times. I also know to avoid certain programs that may have content I prefer them not see or hear. As their parent, it is fully within my rights to dictate what they do or do not watch. It is both my responsibility and prerogative to check on them and know what they are listening to or watching.

According the NPR website, the Fresh Air episode will be available to listen to online at 3:00 today. It's worth a listen and not just because Terry Gross is so, so cool.


Morgan said...

I heard part of that interview. I dunno..Terry Gross gets on my nerves...she just has this know-it-all tone sometimes.

kendra said...

i haven't heard the interview because i can't listen to terry gross without grinding my teeth and thirsting for blood.

however, i just read the recent fcc report in an attempt to udpate my radio station's guidelines for indecency/obscenity. people like tim winter are why the whole report is 100 pages of vague crap. the fcc isn't sure where to draw the line, they're still working it out. people complained about janet's momentary tit (which by most fcc guidelines wasn't a fineable offense), they also complained about a naked baby falling and getting a pacifier stuck in its butt on america's funniest home videos. they complain because they need to feel morally superior and they like the attention.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the halftime show was a striptease, but it definitely wasn't kid friendly. It was an adult-oriented halftime show that played during a family tv event. The TV rating for a sports event is not in the Mature Audiences Only category. (The commercials are often a problem during football games, too, btw.) There was no way responsible parents could have known JT was going to rip off part of JJ's top. That imagery -- not of the breast but of the aggressive move to expose someone else's body -- would be harder to explain than they typical euphemism-laden ED commercial.

My kids weren't watching, and I'm glad they weren't. I do have to say that I had a bigger problem with Kid Rock being selected for the show than with the bared breast. Some of his lyrics are vile and beyond derogatory toward women. How the hell is he a good choice for that show?

The entire halftime show was ill conceived because its tone did not match the demographic watching the game. I don't believe in censorship, but the ratings should mean something (and should cover the friggin' commercials, too). If I can't trust the ratings, then I'd have to tape every show my kids wanted to watch, watch it first, and then decide if they could see it.


samuel said...

Great point Lori, about the situation in which the breast was bared. I'm not a football fan and didn't see the half time show, but as most of us did during the aftermath, I saw the scene several times.

In my opinion, it's still more indicative of our nation's climate that the breast is still the topic rather than the scene depicting violence toward women. As I've mentioned in other posts, the conversations we have too often seem directed to lead us away from the harder topics that we should more rightly discuss.

Instead of "oh my a god a breast" we should hear, "that is not how we treat women." And I'm guilty of the misdirection as well it would seem.