By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
How could I have missed that?
Something will be done, certainly, because something always is done. (Which does not necessarily mean that anything substantial will happen.) The FCC plans presently to hold hearings, Variety reports, ”on the obligations of broadcasters when it comes to programming for children, including the effect of sexually explicit and violent programming.“ It is going to call for ”comment“ and get to the bottom of what a day or two of actually watching television ought to make clear to anyone not in charge of regulating it. The networks will be encouraged to adopt voluntary standards -- DisneyABC got off that block ahead of the pack, promising not to run ads for R-rated movies before 9 p.m., though it didn’t promise to cut the sex jokes out of Two Guys and a Girl. (And I am happy to see that CBS is importing its new Saturday morning lineup from Nick Jr.; I‘m not saying things never get better.)
Yet barring an industrywide embrace of a sin-specific Hays Code sort of code -- about as likely as the paper you now hold folding itself into a crane and flying away -- these standards are bound to be elastic, vague, subject to convenient redefinition. Desire crafts morality in a free market, and all the figures seem to indicate that the people, whatever they say they want, actually do like their entertainment sexy and violent. (Kids of course mostly just like it violent.) The FCC would better serve you by fighting vertical integration and corporate abuses of power, but that is hard work and possibly un-American. You are going to have to save yourself, save your kids, by yourself. The networks, meanwhile, have been around this track several times before, and -- secure in the knowledge that not in a million years will their licenses be taken away -- they barely bother now to register a reaction. A perfunctory swish of the tail to acknowledge the gnats, then it’s back to the oats.
Citizen Ralph is right, of course: Television can be your bestest pal but it is also your worst enemy -- a facsimile of activity, a black hole of purpose. And you have asked it into your home. As far as I‘m concerned, the most interesting TV of the late summer was Big Brother, at least once the ”cast“ came to identify the show itself as the problem. In its final weeks, rather than enacting the drama of friction and betrayal its producers were doing their best to create, the players opted to get along, and their suburban prison was as full of love as Waltons’ Mountain. It was a beautiful, plotless thing. (And proportionately low-rated.) And I hope the irony is not lost upon the public that when the contest ends this weekend, the winner will have gone three months without television. And lived.
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