Last Saturday I came home and turned my computer on, looking for South Carolina primary updates, and found an article titled "NYPD Buttocks May Cost $1.4 Million". My curiosity piqued, I clicked on the link and saw a picture of the actress Charlotte Ross who starred in NYPD Blue from 1998-2004. I read that "the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue". But wait. That episode aired about five years ago.
Sometime around late February or early March of 2003, my wife and I were at a party and the subject of Charlotte Ross’s nude scene on NYPD Blue came up in conversation. I mentioned that we had missed the episode, as did several others at the party. The lady of the house was so impressed with Charlotte Ross in that now infamous scene that she had her husband pop the episode into the VCR so we could all watch.
The consensus of the women in the room was that it was great to see a woman with a real body on TV. Words like "brave" and "bold" were used to describe Charlotte Ross’ choice to do that scene. Not wanting to sound like total pigs, the guys in the room discussed the camera work and the editing. The man of the house paused the scene (approximately 34 seconds on the YouTube video) and pointed out that the boy’s head was perfectly positioned so we could not see Charlotte Ross’s nipples. When the scene is paused it is obvious that this was a composite shot and the boy was filmed separately and added in later. Personally I thought the scene had the innocence of the label on a bottle of Coppertone.
Why is this scene just now being addressed now by the FCC? Other controversial issues like the profanity (the F-word is used 21 times) used in ABC's broadcast of Saving Private Ryan on Veterans Day in 2004, or earlier that year when Janet Jackson had her "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime show took much less time to resolve. If you are keeping score at home:
Janet Jackson’s breast: $550,000
Charlotte Ross’ buttocks: $1.4 million ($27,500 x 52 ABC central & Mountain Time zone stations)
The F-word 21 times: Priceless (The FCC later cleared the film, noting that "contextual considerations are critical in making indecency determinations.")
In my research I can’t find an answer to my timing question. I just seem to have more questions. I also could not find any logical or even a reasonable reason as to why the FCC would want to go after a show that has been off the air for almost three years. Talk about beating a dead horse. Most importantly, why does the FCC in their order refer to the buttock as a sex organ when it is not an organ, but a muscle? The FCC report described Charlotte Ross’s naked buttocks as titillating. That assessment seems subjective since butts may vary. If Charlotte Ross’s naked buttocks are titillating, then is not the mind also a sex organ? If someone gives you a "come hither" look or "bedroom eyes" then are not eyeballs sex organs? I can go on with more examples, but why go down that road?
Logically I think that the FCC is pandering to social conservatives and their watch dog groups. Many would complain about the subject matter in the scene even if there were no nudity in it at all. These same groups just insured that ABC will make their 1.4 million dollars back from increased DVD sales thanks to all the press this story is getting. Does this make the FCC the true buttock here? Finally, is the FCC is insisting that the buttock is a sex organ because of what they plan to do to ABC?
I’d love to quote Sgt. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) here but instead I’ll keep it clean and quote William Shatner on SNL: "GET A LIFE, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it's just a TV show!"
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