Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not Quite Short Takes

Normally on Saturday or Sunday I have been running a series of posts that I call "Short Takes" where I discuss bits of TV business. I've missed a few posts since Christmas and really I don't have my usual resources to do one today. However, I can't possibly let the opportunity provided by the influx of Kidnapped fandom pass without a mention of my nemesis, the Parents Television Council and some of their recent antics.

Who does the PTC like this week?: They actually do like some TV shows, but unfortunately they tend to be the most innocuous sort of show possible. Quality is not an issue. Take for example this week's "Best Show Of The Week" - none other than Grease: You're The One That I Want! According to the PTC the show is "clean, fun entertainment for the whole family." That's not what I called it. Among other things I wrote "I just can't see this having anything but abysmal ratings and as far as I'm concerned that's no less than it deserves." The PTC does not have similar fears. They say "While it may not become the juggernaut that is American Idol, it appeals to audiences of all ages and celebrates some of the best of American culture." I fear for American culture of Grease is the best of it just as I fear for anyone who ignores the lack of quality represented by Grease: You're The One That I Want! in the name of supposedly family friendly programming.

Who does the PTC hate this week?: As usual they hate Las Vegas, which is a fun guilty pleasure show of mine. This time it was the fact that the show supposedly "featured" a sex toy called the "Frisky Ferret" - presumably a vibrator, since I don't recall it ever actually being shown just mentioned - and because the episode in question featured naked older women. According to the PTC "The women are shown on several occasions topless, barely covering themselves with magazines or fruit." This is of course a common practice in movies and TV shows to imply nudity without showing nudity. But of course to the PTC implying nudity or any sort of sexuality (or indeed, as in the case of Studio 60, the possibility that people might possibly have sex even if there's no indication that the show is going in that direction) is evil evil evil.

But of course that's not all the PTC currently has a hate on for. There's the Fox Network. It seems that during the Philadelphia-New Orleans football game a couple of weeks ago a Fox Sports camera man lingered on a young woman wearing a shirt that said "F*ck da Eagles" with the * being exactly the letter U thought it was. By lingered I mean spent all of three seconds on her (based on a YouTube clip of the incident) of which the offensive word was visible for a total of about one second. Most of the rest of the three second shot she was jumping up and down. To the PTC this translated into "The shot stayed focused on the woman and her shirt for several seconds. There can be no doubt that this was an intentional airing of patently offensive language on the public airwaves." For their part Fox apologized for the incident, which it described as unintentional and inadvertent. The apology was publicized three days after the game aired. This wasn't good enough for the PTC who in a later press release claimed that the Fox apology was hypocritical: "How can families take the Fox apology seriously when (1) they are suing in Federal Court demanding the ‘right’ to air the F-word when children are in the audience, (2) they could have taken simple steps to ensure such material does not air but they refuse to do so.” This is in reference to an appeal by Fox against an FCC fine being heard before the Second Circuit Court in New York. In the case in question Fox was fined after Bono used the same word the woman had on her shirt during a live awards ceremony. It seems to me that the PTC wants everything their way - they get the right to decide what is and isn't acceptable on the "public" airwaves through the medium of computer generated protest letters, but anyone else - in particular the TV networks and the industry as a whole - attempting to avail themselves of their constitutional right of appeal is evil, and that anything being said by them should be dismissed as hypocrisy.

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