Jewish World Review Feb. 17, 2004 / 25 Shevat, 5764
Have they no decency?
"It's a hysterical overreaction," said an irritated Steven Bochco, creator of NYPD Blue, after ABC had discussed removing a sexually explicit scene from the drama in markets where it aired before the 10 pm time-slot. The network proposed the change in light of the public outcry over the Super Bowl half-time show.
Half-time performer P. Diddy sniffed that the complaints were ridiculous.
Pat O'Brien anchor of the groundbreaking show Access Hollywood was "shocked at the level of attention [the Super Bowl half-time] is getting" and expressed dismay that "the bar has been raised so high."
Yes, he said "so high."
The elites simply do not get it.
Years ago, revolutionaries used to ask "Which side are you on?" The controversy over the Super Bowl is one of those events that illustrates that there really are two sides to the culture war, and that it really makes a difference which side you are on.
Viacom chief Mel Karmazin was among the big-wig media types who were hauled before Congress this week to explain themselves. If there were subliminal subtitles on C-Span, one could imagine Karmazin thinking to himself: "These bozos think they can intimidate me?! Hah! I'll humor them for the day then in a few months it will be business as usual."
"It is not clear what is meant by 'indecency,'" Karmazin told the House subcommittee, whose members had been slammed by calls and emails from infuriated constituents. Not clear? (Earth to Mel: Get out of Los Angeles and New York and spend some time in 'fly-over' America (no, Aspen doesn't count). Sit down and talk to parents trying to raise children in a sex saturated culture.)
The definition of 'indecency' is clear to most parents heck, most teenagers get it. Rule 1: No crotch grabbing. Rule 2: No tearing at each others' clothes. Rule 3: No wearing of S & M clothes that result in 'wardrobe failures.' Rule 4: No lyrics that promise getting naked 'at the end of this song.' Got it?
Behind all the talking points that their lobbyists have prepared for them, behind all the smoke and mirrors about "the First Amendment" and "free speech" is simply a vast indifference to the effect of what popular culture does to our society. Insulated by their money, their private schools, and their nannies from the realities of raising children in this society, they look on with indifference at the struggles of those who don't have their resources.
But poor and middle class parents, who are suffering under a flood of filth, immediately saw the Super Bowl show as just another example of how corporate America is undermining their effort to pass along their values to their kids.
It's easy to say that the government has no responsibility, because each parent should be responsible for passing along their values. But by that logic, we should have no welfare programs, because each parent should be responsible for feeding and clothing their own children. Fortunately, we have a welfare system because we realize that not everyone has the resources to make it in our highly competitive society. For the same reason, the government should be engaged in cultural welfare to help those parents and kids who don't have access to the resources and schools that the rich enjoy.
Make no mistake. This is a big deal. If poor and middle class Americans can't even pass along their values, then this country isn't working for them. Most Americans will never be rich. Most will never be famous. The only legacy most will ever leave is the values and ideals that they pass along to their children. It is obscene for the elites to trample on the efforts of the "regular people" for no reason other than sheer greed. And it is doubly obscene if the people's representatives hide behind legal niceties to avoid standing up for their constituents.
In the modern world, poor and middle class Americans need to be able to let their kids watch over-the-air programming without fear. These airwaves belong to the people, not to any company. We need to make sure that Congress -- and Big Media -- understand this fact before it's too late.
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