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FCC To Charge ABC Television 1.4 Million Dollars For Charlotte Ross’s Buttocks

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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!"

Stay tuned.

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About Tony Figueroa

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “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”.”

    That’s the oldest excuse in the book.

  • frank keen

    you people are the most vile dirty minded people on the planet, whats next the f word used in all the t.v. shows on television, your a bunch of degenerate pigs. Thats why we need to bring back the seal of good pratice to television again, to get rid of all this kind of trash on T.V.

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    Mr Figueroa, I wish to protest in the strongest terms possible about your appallingly low standards. Where the hell are the photos of Charlotte Ross’ buttocks? It’s a scandal!

  • Tony Figueroa

    Mr. Rose,

    You can find a clip of the scene here.

    Please note that so far it has 1,506,994 views. Imagine, the FCC took five years to study this. They should study human anatomy and learn what a sex organ is.

  • http://www.my-virtual-income.com Christopher Rose

    I knew it was on You Tube, Tony. Personally, I think the FCC is bonkers.

  • http://childoftv.blogspot.com Brent

    And so are people like Frank Keen (comment #2) if he is indeed serious. The FCC claims to make their rulings based on “community standards.” What community are they basing the standards on – a town of Frank Keens?

    All I know is that in Canada, because the scene doesn’t have a sexual context (as in a couple in the bathroom obviously preparing for sex) this scene could air at any time of the day.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    well, this is the united states…where we all know that the very sight of bare buttocks will cause a person to run out in the street and indulge in senseless acts of rape and other extreme violence.

  • bliffle

    I saw the video, and I must admit that the $1.4million is a cheap price to pay. I’d pay it, too. If I had the spare cash laying around. On the other hand, the buttocks I awakened next to this morning are just as good.

  • sugababe

    hi

  • Jesseeejames

    I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s just a butt, and it’s only for a few seconds. She is doing what everyone else does when they are about to bathe. Does the FCC want her to bathe with all of her clothes on? I’m sure in their minds that the scene would have been ok if she had panties on, but seriously is there really that much of a difference? If this scene was such a big deal, it should have been taken care of 5 years ago.

  • bliffle

    They don’t need actual clothes because of the wonderfulness of pixellation, where you can obscure things as they are transmitted.

    I was watching “megaherz Worldview”, an obscure PBS-like channel with foreign programs, and was shocked to see pixellation of T&A in some innocent film. Gad. It was about midnight at the time, but Their Spies Are EveryWhere, I suppose.