• America Cares About Indecency, Even if the FCC Doesn’t

    by  • January 31, 2014 • Broadcast Decency • 9 Comments

    On this, the ten year anniversary of the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime show, defenders of Hollywood are already, predictably, working hard to downplay the concerns exhibited by millions of Americans in the immediate aftermath, and the cultural significance of the spontaneous public backlash the event triggered.

    In a recent blog post, Time magazine’s James Poniewozik argues, essentially, that little in Hollywood has changed as a result of the public response to the MTV-produced halftime show; that there is still a lot of offensive content out there.

    That there is still a great deal of crass and vulgar TV content is indisputable. What is subject to debate is what the TV landscape might look like today had the Janet Jackson incident, and the ensuing FCC crack-down on indecency, not happened.

    The continued proliferation of offensive TV content is not because TV viewers have grown complacent, and it’s not because we’ve all found comfortable TV niches where we can pretend that all that bad stuff doesn’t exist. It’s only because of six years of an FCC Chairman who really wasn’t at all interested in enforcing the rules; and absent clear guidelines and clear penalties for stepping outside those guidelines, like a willful child, the broadcast networks will continue to push the boundaries to see how much they can get away with.

    Hollywood and its lobbyists and defenders have spent the last ten years downplaying the legitimate concerns of parents, or pretending that the post-Super Bowl outrage was feigned or fleeting, or orchestrated. It wasn’t, and it isn’t. And the fact that today’s media landscape looks the way it does is not because parents stopped caring. It’s because the FCC stopped doing its job.



    9 Responses to America Cares About Indecency, Even if the FCC Doesn’t

    1. grabl
      February 8, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Would a set of Ofcom-like regulations for U.S. stations be a good idea?
      Both PTC and the entertainment industry seem dissatisfied with the current approach.

    2. Chirpe
      February 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Preeeety sure. It’s because it’s not their job to teach you how to use technology; Almost all televisions and cable/sallaite boxes give you these “neat” controls to make it imppossible for your children to watch said channels, ratings, and some sets even have the option to only affect specific shows.

      It’s like sueing the company that made the kitchen drawer where you keep your knives because you didn’t know how to use a pad lock that came with the drawer when you bought it so your child cut himself on a knife… I swear, you geezers always give me a good laugh.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        February 4, 2014 at 8:14 am

        Actually, it’s more like suing tobacco companies, when all people have to do to avoid lung cancer is not smoke cigarettes…Wait. What? You mean, states DID sue tobacco companies — and won massive settlements — because science proved that cigarettes were a huge menace to public health? Just like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Psychiatric Association issued a joint statement declaring that “based on over 30 years of research, viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children.”

        And as for “technology” being the answer…the V-Chip depends on programs being rated appropriately to work. As the PTC has shown, the current TV ratings system is worthless.

        But by all means, go on blaming parents, instead of asking a multi-billion dollar oligarchy to take some small amount of responsibility for what they choose to push over the publicly-owned airwaves. Mustn’t inconvenience those big 1% corporations.

    3. Justin G.
      February 1, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Honestly, I’ve grown to really despise you over the years and let me tell you why this is, you preach intellingent morals about indecency on TV, Entertainment, Media etc. and everyone knows that children do get affected by the media they watch but in reality it’s not always negative as you seem to think it is. The real truth is that when children watch entertainment it can either affect them positively or negatively. It can basically go either way honestly. But when you say whenever a child gets affected by the media they watch not only is it always bad but the parents apparently can do nothing to fix the problem once it affects the child according to what you say. That to me sounds more like bad parenting & blame other people for our personal problems then it is an entertainment industry problem. Doesn’t it make more sense to correct and educate the child if their behavior their copying is wrong then blame other people for it?

      There’s nothing wrong with family-friendly entertainment of course, and I agree that hollywood should make more of an effort to produce more of it. But you can’t take it out on the so called indecent entertainment just because there isn’t more of the entertainment you desire. You constantly attack Seth MacFarlane & Family Guy for what I think serves as the definitive example of everything you found wrong with hollywood and act like that’s all there is nowadays. Look at Pixar movies, look at anything you find to be family friendly entertainment and watch & support that then hate on what you call indecent entertainment. It’s easier done then said though I’m pretty sure you’ll call it easier said then done because we wouldn’t have this problem if you had just done it instead of complaining as if it would’ve actually go anywhere.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        February 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

        So basically, your argument is, “only pay attention to the good stuff. Ignore all the bad stuff that’s out there. Make no effort to criticize or improve the world; just bury your head in the sand.”

        That may work for you, but it’s not much of a prescription for improving the media environment for others.

        • Justin G.
          February 6, 2014 at 2:43 pm

          What do you mean by improving the media environment for others? Getting rid of what you perceive to be bad entertainment will not fix the problem nor will it change anything. Accept that it exists & just deal with it. And not just deal with it by ignoring it deal with it by watching what you perceive to be good. There’s a right way and a wrong way to change, criticize and improve the world. THIS is not one of them. Can’t you just be parents and raise your kids? That’s more important than what your doing right now I think & there’s more to family bonding then just the entertainment they watch on TV. I mean it’s not like there going to marathon the whole line-up of any said network. That just seems ridiculous to me. They’re probably going to watch maybe 1 or 2 shows together and that’s it.

          • Christopher Gildemeister
            February 7, 2014 at 8:48 am

            Interesting advice, Justin.

            I wonder: would you have told, say, African-Americans, “Getting rid of slavery will not fix the problem, nor will it change anything. Accept that it exists and just deal with it”?

            Yes, one family choosing to watch good programming is a good thing. But saying “just be parents and raise your kids” is tantamount to saying, “Ignore everything that’s wrong with the world, and make no effort to improve it. Don’t try to change things that you don’t like. Just bury your head in the sand and ignore it.”

            • Justin G.
              February 7, 2014 at 2:37 pm

              Did you even listen to what I have to say? And no, I would have not said the same thing to african americans. Because slavery is wrong not matter how you look at it. Before what I say next can be said, let’s just look at the DEFINITION of Tantamount for a second:

              tantamount |ˈtantəˌmount|
              adjective [ predic. ] ( tantamount to)
              equivalent in seriousness to; virtually the same as : the resignations were tantamount to an admission of guilt. See note at same.

              What your really saying is that ignoring the world is the same as being a good parent. That is horrible if that is the truth. Because being a good parent is of the upmost importance, your their role model even before the big bad TV gets to them or they discover what a television even is, that should be a responsibility that falls to the parents and the parents alone. I’m guessing the stress, responsibility & the overall lifestyle of being a parent must completely scare you thus why you want to hold entertainment industry just as responsible just so you don’t have to take 100% blame if your child gets screwed up. It’s selfish regardless of your reasons. You claim your group is trying to change the world by getting rid of what you perceive to be bad and promote what you to be good. While this seems to make sense, changing the world it is not exactly simple as that. There are plenty of things that need to be done in order to change the world for the better such as allowing gays to marry, universal health care (which allows everyone to get the health care they deserve. It works for European countries why not for America?) & a number of other situations that are happening in this country as we speak. Why is that certain entertainment that children might see on TV, is just as big as a concern as everything else in the world? There are things that can happen that are FAR worse such as child abuse & bullying.

            • Christopher Gildemeister
              February 7, 2014 at 3:28 pm


              it’s clear that there’s really no rational way to address your over-the-top hyperbole. You make a huge number of unwarranted assumptions, such as:

              1) If one tries to improve the media culture, then “the stress, responsibility & the overall lifestyle of being a parent must completely scare you thus why you want to hold entertainment industry just as responsible just so you don’t have to take 100% blame if your child gets screwed up.” Wow. So, in your eyes a parent *IS* “100% responsible” if their child “gets screwed up”?

              It’s clear you’re not a parent, nor probably even an adult. If you were, you would realize that many, many kids drink, smoke pot, use drugs, and have sex despite their parents’ very best efforts. You seem to think parents have omnipotent power over their children, while the entire rest of the culture has absolutely no influence whatsoever. I challenge you to ask yourself this: where did you get such an idea? Did you perhaps learn it from something in the media?

              2) The fact that “there are plenty of things that need to be done in order to change the world for the better,” whether universal health care or whatever, does not mean that media safety is not one of those things. Not every organization deals with every single issue. Would you attack GLAAD because they don’t deal with universal health care? PETA, because they don’t deal with climate change? Of course not — because each organization has the issues it deals with. The mission of the PTC is dealing with media. Other groups have other missions. If you dislike our mission or our approach to it, that’s your right; but you might find a more productive way of improving the world than wasting your time griping that a media organization actually deals with media issues.

              3) You say “changing the world is not as simple as that.” Indeed, it is not…but one must start somewhere. You apparently think that parents should have absolutely no say on what appears on TV. Then who should? You seem to think that children are raised in a vacuum, that parents have total control over everything to which their children may be exposed, BUT that they should not even voice their opinions on things which they feel can harm their children.

              But as I said above, there’s really no point in trying to argue with you. The only reason I posted this response is so that you wouldn’t think I’m afraid of engaging with you. But “one can avoid folly without backing into cowardice,” so don’t expect me to indulge you in yet another of your rants.

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