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How to fix network TV and reign in the FCC’s hounds

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Originally appeared as The Meager Decency Un-Hoax, on Correct My Spelling.

At the behest of the FCC, I’m self-censoring my spewings [can I say that?] in case this blog is read before the 10 o’clock hour, Eastern Savings Time.

People are talking. There’s some lewd, indecent s[expletive deleted] going down all around us: dropped towels; exposed, pierced nipples; censorship. People are outraged by sex before junior’s bedtime, but it’s no one I know. People are outraged that “opportunistic ayatollahs on the right have been working overtime to inflate this nonmandate into . . . censorship by a compliant F.C.C. and, failing that, self-censorship by TV networks,” but again, it’s no one I know.

No one I know is worried about these things for two reasons: (a) I don’t know anyone who has kids and (b) I don’t know anyone who watches network television. That said, even if (a) weren’t true, no one I know would be worried because (b), no one I know watches network television. And the reason, dear sirs and madams, that no one watches network TV, is because it sucks a[expletive deleted]oles. It’s only now, with the penetration [can I say that?] of cable and the revenues generated, that pay TV has begun creating its own shows which are subject to much less stringent regulations.

You see, in paying extra money for cable, and more money on top of that for HBO, Showtime and the others, you are creating a demilitarized zone into which the FCC is loath to enter. You are, by virtue of your conscious patronage, consenting to as many breasts and expletives [within reason] that Comedy Central or HBO can throw at you. Basic cable networks self-sensor because there is a less specific consent in buying a basic package than specifically opting in for HBO and they still have to deal with advertisers, many of whom are “family companies”. Whatever, the point is: where the FCC treadeth less, there bloometh intelligent programming. On HBO and Showtime, in a land of a[expletive deleted] and expletives, writers are free to make their characters cuss like real people, do drugs like real people, and copulate like real people.

This allows for shows real people like to watch.

Because real people aren’t perfect. Real people have flaws.

So go ahead and censor all the advertising during all the bu[expletive deleted]it, sucky a[expletive deleted] programming I never watch. Big deal. Give the puritans their cloistered public airwaves with its intrusive commercialism. I take my smut straight.

All the same, I think we should reach out to them–they of the bible-belt. Maybe the whole problem is just that the red-state people, the welfare state people, the people worried about the effect of Nicolette Sheridan’s lower back on toddling Jimmy’s soul, are just too poor to afford HBO. Too poor to gain confirmation from Home Box Office that the things they think about in their private moments and the things they do in their darkened bedrooms are not, in fact, deviant.

Allow HBO to speak the unfettered truth, saying, “indeed, Jeraboam [Ezekiel as the case may be], all of humanity thinks bad thoughts from time to time, no one is perfect. Imperfection isn’t evil, imperfection is human. Indeed, Jer [Zeke], though nauseating in retrospect, sex is fun in the moment, necessary and most of all, OK for consenting adults.”

So I think, post election, those socially liberal 527s with money left over should pool their resources and focus on subsidizing HBO for the heartland’s poor and sexually-repressed. Beam them smut, give them Sex for Dummies, and send them forth to preach the sexy, foul-mouthed gospel.

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About Luke Baumgarten

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Luke! very well-written and I get your point, but somewhere out there are actual Americans who not only have children but who even watch the occasional ntwork TV show, EVEN TO THIS DAY, and it is for them that the FCC still exists and should be expected to create and maintain logical, comprehensible rules and enforce them fairly and uniformly.

    The rule have been there for some time but they have been largely ignored – suddenly we are seeing them enforced in what appears to be an aribtrary/political manner. THIS is the problem, not the rules themselves, which seem pretty reasonable to me.

  • http://twelve_orphans.blogspot.com Luke

    Yeah, it seems pretty obvious when the chair is questioning Walt Disney’s reaction to programming choices.

    The point of this is less regulatory zealotry than the simple assertion that network Television, with very few exceptions, has always been inferior to cinema for both artistic and dramatic content. This is due in main part to censorship of those undesireable aspects of our lives and society.

    Now that we have cable. Network TV isn’t even the best thing on TV. Even the backwards Emmys have realized this, nominating a single show for more awards than any single network.

  • http://twelve_orphans.blogspot.com Luke

    Okay, and to your post specifically. I actually do know at least one parent who wants the FCC to stop parenting for him.

    I’ll quote him: “You can also now say that you know (even if electronically), someone with children…me. I still abhore censorship of any kind. The FCC has no right telling me what is apropriate for my children, that’s my job, thank you very much. I’ll decide when my two little boys are ready to watch a little T&A, right after they get over all that evil witchery in Harry Potter. They don’t watch network television either, because it does s{expletive}ck a{expletive}s, as you mentioned. There’s nothing worth watching over there anyway.

    The FCC should really be censoring stupidity, don’t you think? Vain soap-operas like Survivor and American Idol should be labeled “too stupid to f{expletive}cking watch.””

    Then:

    “I have kids and I have three words for you: Context, context,and context.

    My 7-year old didn’t even notice Janet’s boob. How would he? The people who really really noticed the boob, are those folks who recorded it and played it in stop-frame, pan and zoom. Not kids watching the Super Bowl with their families.

    My 12-year old girl can discuss sexuality, violence, and censorship, with us. Again, if you view in context, discuss with trust and understanding, and decent parenting, then censorship seems, well, childish.

    On the farm, kids see the animals procreating as a matter of daily reality. They understand it. They hardly notice it. If black-suited FCC wonks walked onto the ranch they would drop over apoplectic at the lewdness going on all about and amuck. This is very funny.

  • Antfreeze

    Fear not, even now the FCC is hard at work on the “Agricultural De-Pornification Act” wherein a sliding scale of fines shall be imposed. $50.00 for copulating crickets up to $1500.00 for humping horses.

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