Print Columns   |   Web Chats   |   Blog Archives   |  

F This S: How the TV Nets Fight for Your Rights

CBS, Fox and ABC are rushing to federal court to protect your constitutional right. Which one? Why, it's the right to open a valve and let all manner of sewage flow into your home.

The spineless Federal Communications Commission, which likes to pretend that it can do virtually nothing to halt the flow of trash into American homes, actually declared some over-the-air broadcasts indecent last month, ruling that CBS' The Early Show, Fox's Billboard Music Awards, and ABC's NYPD Blue violated community standards by broadcasting variations on two obscenities, the "F" word and the "S" word. In some instances, these uses of the words happened spontaneously during a live show; in other cases, they were scripted. No matter: In either event, the networks think this is just fine. After all, they argue, anything goes on pay cable and in the movies, so why not on broadcast TV too?

"The FCC overstepped its authority in an attempt to regulate content protected by the First Amendment, acted arbitrarily and failed to provide broadcasters with a clear and consistent standard," the broadcasters argue in their appeal of the indecency ruling.

In truth, the FCC's approach to decency questions over the past three decades has been remarkably and consistently tolerant bordering on licentious. Even the oft-cited but poorly understood George Carlin ruling did not ban the infamous Seven Dirty Words; rather, it quite reasonably restricted the naughtiest of language to off-hours, when kids are unlikely to be listening. And no one who listened to raunch radio through the 90s and early 00s could possibly argue that the FCC is remotely restrictive about matters of sex, bodily functions or coarse language.

Yet when the FCC shows the slightest inclination to say that hey, there is still a difference between TV that you choose and pay for and TV that flows over the public airwaves into any house with a television or radio, the networks--which hardly ever show any interest in pushing the envelope in political speech or in news coverage or in building community or teaching civics--transform themselves into Protectors of the Constitution, Naughty Bits Division.

The FCC is not exactly the Spanish Inquisition here; the ruling against a use of a variation on the S word on the NYPD Blue program wasn't even an outright ban: It said that use of the word at 9 pm (when the show aired in the Central and Mountain time zones) was a bit much, but use of the same word at 10 pm (when the show aired in the Eastern and Western time zones) was fine. Doesn't sound terribly like state oppression, does it?

The feds long ago gave up on the idea that they had any significant role in supervising the public airwaves on behalf of parents and children. They're now dipping a little toe into the regulation waters only because Congress blew its top over the Janet Jackson reveal at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. But even in our incredibly coarsened society, there is still a difference between HBO and ABC, between R-rated movies and free home TV--for one, you have to make a choice and pay a bill; the other is public, available to all. The FCC should not only recognize and enforce that difference, but it should also reassert its role in licensing radio and TV stations. Make it a goal to strip 50 stations a year of their licenses for insufficient attention to public service. And sunset all broadcast licenses after 15 or 20 years, making them all unrenewable. If the airwaves are in any way public, they ought to be open to far more of the public.

By Marc Fisher |  April 17, 2006; 7:38 AM ET
Previous: The Day the Oldies Died | Next: From High Atop the Hay-Adams Hotel, the Glories of Washington


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Lighten up, Fisher. If you think dropping the S word on television constitutes a coarsening of society, then you have an extraordinarily sensitive yet badly aimed Coarse-O-Meter. You think someone dropping the S-bomb or the F-bomb on a television show no parent should be letting a child watch in the first place is a major coarsening factor in our society? Stop, take a 10,000 foot view of our culture, and then tell me dirty words are the things roughing our edges. You sound like an old man complaining about the evil influence of rock n' roll.

Posted by: Ted Atkinson | April 17, 2006 8:51 AM

This idea that the "public" airwaves are somehow sancrosanct and must be protected from the evils of potty language is laughable, as is your Taliban-esque recommendation to strip licensees of their right to broadcast. What the FCC (and the federal government for that matter) need to do is realize that this archaic view that they are somehow "protecting" children from seeing/hearing bad language of sexually explicit content through the enforcement of "indecency" regulations/laws does not fit the reality of America, circa 2006. Kids today are exposed to, and know more about bad language and sex than ever before (and at a younger age) because the Internet, cable, general "flattening" (in the Friedmanian way) of communications (and tele-communications) have made TV and "free" radio obsolete.

It always seemed illogical to me that regulation at the time parents were most likely to be in control of the flipper/knob were deemed the most necessary. Do we need to "protect" children from Howard Stern at 8 am when mom and dad are around? Do we need to stop the baring of a bare buttock on NYPD or the utterance of language most kids hear at school? There is a way to "censor"'s called an "on/off" button. Don't want your kids looking at porn on the 'Net? Don't get a computer. Don't want your kids to see things on TV? Don't buy one. But please, for the love of all that is good and decent, stop trying to moralize and legislate to the country what is and is not acceptable.

Posted by: Anonomizer | April 17, 2006 8:56 AM

How ridiculous! Coarseness is in the eye of the beholder. Kids can watch scenes of explosions, with body parts going everywhere, and that is fine. Bullets in the forehead, sweet! But show an unapproved body part, use a swear word and it's the end of society as we know it. The Vice-President tells a Senator on the floor of the Senate to "Go *uck yourself", and the words are not allowed to be said in a news story about the incident. On the other hand, bomb civillians and you are a "Values oriented" public servant.
I do think that 50 licenses a year should be removed from their holder, but not for obscenity. They should be rotated around so that there are more voices represented, more choices offered, more true public service offered. Less corporate media and more local media.

Posted by: capeman | April 17, 2006 9:17 AM

You think the FCC is TOO lenient? Come on! Grow up America already! They are JUST words. And Janet Jackson, that was just a breast viewed for less than a second. This is what constitutes 'trash television'? Nude bodies and four letter words, that is what constitutes a breakdown in morality? Are we dealing with grownups here or just a bunch of little kids? GROW UP AMERICA!

Posted by: Mark Esposito | April 17, 2006 9:46 AM

Wow, Marc, I really didn't expect a tirade like this from you.

All I'll say in opposition to you is that one of the reasons the network's case is so important is because right now, the FCC's "enforcement" of "decency" is so ad hoc and arbitrary that there is no way to tell before the fact whether something is "decent." I think even most libertarians would begrudgingly accept FCC monitoring of the public airwaves (to the degree those still exist), but if it's completely arbitrary it has a chilling effect on free speech (even the vaunted "important" political kind). Nevermind that it's simply un-American to punish people for breaking rules they had no notice of.

Posted by: OD | April 17, 2006 9:53 AM

Intercourse. Excrement. Oral sex.

Were those words obscene? Of course not, they're not the magic f*, s*, b*j* words that mean exactly the same thing.

Geez. Grow up and get over this ridiculous puritanical notion that there are "bad" words.

Posted by: Burke | April 17, 2006 9:56 AM

Frankly, I'd be more concerned with the nonstop parade of violence flooding into our homes than a few naughty words. Profanity loses its power if we stop making a big deal out of it. It's only effective because scolds react to it so violently.

You are playing with fire with the license revocation thing, too. You have the right to avoid coarse programming, because this is America. But, as I wish the Republican Party would remember, your rights end where mine begin, so you do not have the right to tell me what to watch on TV.

If people would, oh, I don't know, RAISE THEIR CHILDREN PROPERLY, this wouldn't be an issue. My parents raised me to know that there are certain things we don't say because it's impolite. They also trusted me to be able to distinguish fantasy from reality, and that the things that happen on TV are fake. If parents would be parents, the FCC wouldn't have to get its boxers in a bunch about the little things.

Posted by: bamagirlinVA | April 17, 2006 10:02 AM

Kids can watch explosions of body parts everywhere ---- as long as they're in a movie. Real world events, such as those going on in the Middle East and Iraq, are off limits.

When I was 12, there's no way I was up until 9:59pm -- late enough to watch NYPD Blue with its awful words even in the Central and Mountain time zone.

And if you're 16, there's just something wrong with saying you're too young to hear a curse word on the tube, but in 2 years not only can you go watch a movie by yourself -- we can give you a gun and you can go fight for these values somewhere in the makes absolutely no sense.

The media is complaining about not being able to show coffins and flags of the thousands who have died in the war. How do you justify the argument that this is inappropriate censorship, when fining for words in many songs that we hear every day are not?

Words only have power if they are given power.

Posted by: DC | April 17, 2006 10:12 AM


You are SO way off base on this that it's not even funny. The FCC is nothing but the most hypocritical organization in the world.

In "the name of public decency" they cracked down on evils of Howard or Eliott because they may slip in the word penis. Yet Oprah can do an explicit hour long show on 12 year olds giving oral sex and not a word is said.

It's time to dismantle the agency and allow the people to regain control of THEIR airwaves.

The FCC does not speak for me or many other millions of people in this country.

Posted by: Nick | April 17, 2006 10:38 AM

I'm with the FCC on this. If the F-word becomes common place on network television, it will lose all of its magical powers. Can you imagine life without
swear words? How the f*** could you possibly express yourself properly?

Up with censorship! Protect the sanctity of the F-bomb!

Posted by: Joe Postie | April 17, 2006 10:44 AM

Are copies of the relevant court filings available online? If so, could someone please post a link? Thanks much.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2006 10:49 AM

I think I am partly in Marc's camp on this. I'm not so much concerned about language, but I do think there's a "coarsening of the culture" and that the popular media are heavily implicated in it.

Sometimes I think part of the problem is that there's just TOO MUCH NOISE coming at us from every direction, and, to cut through the clamor, people in the entertainment biz and some parts of the news biz strive for shock value.

This is a big topic. Too early in the day for me to have any big thoughts, but perhaps I'll generate some later in the day. :-)

Posted by: THS | April 17, 2006 10:54 AM

You see and hear many worse things during the middle of the day when kids are home from school and mom is working by watching Jerry Springer, Oprah and Dr Phil. We all know what words are bleeped out but the content of racial prejudice, drugs and promiscuity is so much worse.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | April 17, 2006 11:07 AM

Hey Marc: troubled by "coarsening of society"? Uhh, try the rest of the world, like Europe. In case you haven't been, here's the scoop - nudity, sex and language are part of everyday TV there.

Listen up, Marc. The problem with America is that most Americans are so shielded from real life that they are naive, oversensitive, and helpless to the n-th degree.

Posted by: doesnt matter | April 17, 2006 11:30 AM

If you don't like what you're seeing and hearing on television I suggest turning the tube off. They come with off switches for a reason. This nonsense of protecting society from itself by punishing the television networks is laughable.

Posted by: Keith | April 17, 2006 11:31 AM


Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Has the culture coarsened on its own, with the media reflecting that? Or has the media force-fed us coarsened entertainment, leading to a coarsening of the culture?

I tend towards the former theory. Media is more a reflection of us than a driving force. The idea of a teen orgy didn't just spring from the heads of dirtyminded hollywood writers. It actually happens (and has been happening since at least I was in high school more than ten years ago), so the writers decided to tackle the subject. And the "F" word is older than this country, so it's not like Nicole Ritchie and Bono were the first people to utter it in public.

Posted by: OD | April 17, 2006 11:38 AM

I think two comments are in order:

(1) Why is it okay for Marc to say "F this S," but it would be inappropriate for him to spell out those two words? What does it say about language and communication and propriety when we allow the letters but not the words?

(2) The singlemost telling indicator that the current FCC decency crackdown is politically driven: allowing "Saving Private Ryan" to air unedited. If it's necessary to tell that story, why isn't certain language necessary to tell other stories? Why can't we show "Platoon" unedited on network television? And then where do you draw the line?

Go all the way, or don't go at all.

Posted by: $#!+ @$$ | April 17, 2006 11:41 AM

Grow up, Fisher. Kids have been using the F and S words since they were invented, and it has little to do with TV and more to do with parenting. My mother cussed all the time at home and I still learned when and where foul language was appropriate. We have brains, you fuddy-dud. Foul language is the least of the world's troubles.

Posted by: Tony V | April 17, 2006 11:50 AM


You are kidding me right ? The FCC is way out of bounds. TV, Radio, Movies are a person's choice. If you do not like the words, language or pictures change the channel. The FCC needs to understand that we the people have rights as well. Why some people may not like Chocolate Ice Cream or Vanilla Ice Cream they may like Strawberry Ice Cream. We all have differant tastes, let us be our own watch dogs. For those of us with children, that means we actually have to be parents. I know, doing something that we are actually supposed to do, being parents to our children. Over the years I have seen "parents" buy there children (Under 10 years old): 2 Live Crew CD's, PS2 Games with Adult Content, etc etc... Maybe listening and being a part of our children's life should be something we worry more about than Dennis Franz' butt or Janet Jackson's breast or Howard Stern's fart joke's. Oddly I knew that Howard Stern was someone my children should not listen to. I also knew that when NYPD Blue was on my children should not watch it.

GROW UP !! - Adult's act like adults, if you have children then act like it.

Posted by: #$@@@@$#$ | April 17, 2006 12:09 PM

While I disagree with the FCC's actions, because I feel that the rationale is ever-shifting and indefinite, I do not wholly oppose the underlying principle. To frame this as entirely a matter of "choice" and parenting is to ignore the modern realities of parenting and media. There are some things that children should not be exposed to, primarily because they lack the tools to cope with the consequences. One of the reasons kids shouldn't be having sex is because even adults haven't really figured out how to handle the fallout from that relationship; minors (not all, but almost) are not equipped to deal with that. And while "bad" words are just words, and "naughty" images are just images, they have consequences. And not every parent can be there every minute of the day to protect their children, nevermind "prescreen" every show to know what is around the corner.

It is somewhat antiquated to continue to fine stations for indecency (it cannot be censorship, since it is after-the-fact) when most homes have cable (unregulated) or internet access (wow, if I'd had access to that as a teen...), but the rationale still exists: these stations have licenses to broadcast over frequencies that are scarce resources granted to them in the public interest, and they should have to conform to some expected community standard in doing so. It is up to debate which community's standards should dictate, and it is debatable even whether the FCC is following its own standards, but it is not debatable that the broadcast networks do not have free reign to show anything and everything they want to. And it's not censorship to think so.

It is a separate, but related, issue to demand more "public interest" broadcasting from the networks re political speech, new coverage, teaching civics, etc. That should go hand-in-hand with their decency obligations.

Posted by: Jimmy from DC | April 17, 2006 12:30 PM

I agree with whomever said "turn it off if you don't like it" I mean do we really want the government deciding what is good or bad for us to see, hear, taste, smell, feel? They are already trying to do so in so many ways (eroding civil liberties, etc). This is one place where it is so not worth the money involved (even if it where $1) to look into someone saying "bad" words. It strikes me that the "gung ho manly" type can be reduced to a wimp by the mere mention of a "bad' word. Sounds pathetic to me.

Posted by: Sticks and Stones | April 17, 2006 12:33 PM

Shut the $@%# up!

Posted by: D. Johnson | April 17, 2006 12:46 PM

Hard to refute Jimmy's well-versed comments. However, I'll try.

My primary concern with your position, Mr. Fisher, is the notion that you know better than I what is best for my family and my daughter. Simply because your position is founded in religion or morality does not make it better for others, and is far from making it right. Like it or not, we share our society with people of all faiths and beliefs. Just as you suggest we should protect your family from words or ideas that may harm you, so, too, should my family be protected from ideas that would harm us.

In an increasingly global culture and a "flattening" world, I can think of no idea so detrimental and no policy as malignant to society as being closed-minded. I deeply respect your devotion to your values and you are welcome to them. In the spirit of acceptance of our fellow man, let us agree to this pact; You raise your family well in love and closed-mindedness and I will keep you free from the seditious influences of Mark Twain and Elvis and the Los Angeles Times.

Posted by: Skip in DC | April 17, 2006 1:14 PM

Skip in DC: You raise your family well in love and closed-mindedness and I will keep you free from the seditious influences of Mark Twain and Elvis and the Los Angeles Times.

Marc can defend himself, I'm sure, so I'll just say your comment is plain silly. He didn't suggest anything remotely like what you describe.

Posted by: THS | April 17, 2006 1:24 PM

Marc, you write: "And no one who listened to raunch radio through the 90s and early 00s could possibly argue that the FCC is remotely restrictive about matters of sex, bodily functions or coarse language."

And that is why the networks' lawsuit is valid ("The FCC overstepped its authority in an attempt to regulate content protected by the First Amendment, acted arbitrarily and failed to provide broadcasters with a clear and consistent standard"). The FCC is fining networks for material that has already been broadcast, effectively saying, 'You should have known ahead of time that the four of us commissioners would find this indecent,' despite the fact that the FCC has never provided clear guidance on what is and what is not appropriate to broadcast. (You classify it as "remarkably and consistently tolerant bordering on licentious" while I say it is remarkably unclear.) If it wasn't indecent 5-10 years ago, why is it indecent now that Dobson's Focus on the Family has flooded the FCC's new online complaint forum?

For someone who otherwise appears to be all for "letting it all hang out" I find your opposition to the networks' lawsuit -- which is clearly screaming out for consistent standards from the FCC if nothing else -- odd.

I would love to hear your follow-up to the over-20 comments that take issue with your post. I don't think I can wait for the chat later this week!

Posted by: Anon. | April 17, 2006 1:52 PM

There are more than 200,000 words in the English language. That we choose this handful of syllables as our linguistic battleground amazes me.

Congress has raised the possible fines from a maximum of $7,000 per utterance (formerly this meant an entire program) to $32,500 for a single instance of each offending word, and there is a proposal to raise that level to $500,000.

Former FCC chair, Michael Powell, went so far as to change the definition of profanity to include the "F-word" in a complaint against NBC and Bono. Where is our sense of proportion?

Posted by: Craig | April 17, 2006 2:10 PM

Sen. Ted Stevens wants to FCC to be able to regulate cable TV the same way it can broadcast TV, and he's not alone.

This is my fear: There seems to be a large, frightening contingent of people who genuinely think that their ideas of what is moral and righteous really should be imposed on everybody by force of law. I don't want to give that group any more power that I absolutely have to.

If we lived in a world where we could agree that the public airwaves would be cleaned up all squeaky so that no child would ever, ever hear a naughty word, while cable networks would be able to offer more adult-level programming for grown-ups, that would be fine. But in reality, the bluenoses do want to take away my right to watch whatever I want to, and because that is the case, I feel obligated to make sure the camel's nose never gets into the tent, even if that means Marc Jr. might now and then see (gasp!) a nude female buttock.

Posted by: SteveG | April 17, 2006 2:46 PM

What about the V-Chip? It's required on TVs now, so why are broadcasters forbidden from relying on parents using it?

Posted by: MB | April 17, 2006 3:43 PM

They not only come with off switches, TVs come with channel selectors. If you don't like it, turn the channel or turn it off.
Amazing when I contemplate all of the people that were outraged after the Janet Jackson incident. Where's the outrage over the constant erosion of our civil rights under the current regime? Where's the outrage that there's carnage from Iraq on TV daily and the whole thing was based on lies? Clinton was impeached over lying about an adulterous affair. Bush lies about matters of national security and no one blinks an eye.
This society is so uptight about sex and "dirty words" that it is a joke, albeit not a very funny one.
I was extremely dispponted when Harley Davidson sanitized its commercial about getting lucky on a date after complaints by some uptight puritans that were about as likely to buy a Hog as they were to join a support Hilary movement. If someone would stand up to these puritans who want to decide what's suitable for the rest of us they'd find something else to do besides busybody all of the time. I'm a radical I know, but I tend to not watch things on television that I don't care to see. I know that's a pretty complicated solution in this day and age, but I thought it up all by my self. I don't need the FCC to ban anything. If I don't like it I won't watch it.

Posted by: Glen | April 17, 2006 3:47 PM

Marc, I'm with a lot of other posters - your position just doesn't make sense to me. The FCC is totally, weirdly arbitrary. Explain?

Posted by: h3 | April 17, 2006 4:16 PM


Are you thinking of switching over to the WashTimes or something? Perhaps you're sending this Blog entry over there in an attempt to solicit a job offer? I'd expect this type of entry from the right-wing types but not you!

Posted by: MikeFromDC | April 17, 2006 4:43 PM

The OFF button, the original V-chip.

I can't stand parents who want to regulate what I can or cannot see on television to protect their kids. You don't like what's on television? Then get rid of the television. Problem solved.

Posted by: KMP | April 17, 2006 4:45 PM

Why do the complaints of thousands of cranks and malcontents--many of whom have not actually seen the broadcasts they are complaining about, in response to instructions from their organizers--matter more than the millions of viewers who don't complain?

Some time ago, the fascists and well-meaning but misguided leftists combined to force through the V-chip, essentially a tax on everyone who buys a television set, and a tax on everyone who buys anything advertised on television (the cost of figuring out the appropriate ratings categories for every program get passed along somewhere), all benefiting primarily the people too lazy, ignorant, or irresponsible to supervise their children. Except those people don't bother to use the v-chip, which was entirely predictable; the ratings system is absurdly complex, and the people who can't program a VCR certainly aren't going to program their TVs to regulate content. Nor do they bother to use the controls in their cable boxes. So instead they whine, and like clockwork, the government makes policy decisions based on who whines the loudest.

Make no mistake--these people do not care squat about "protecting children". They seek social control, as evidenced by their desire for the FCC to regulate cable broadcasts. It's so laughable to hear conservatives who screamed that forcing Microsoft to change its bundling practices was anticapitalist, and if you didn't like it you should just not buy their product, now say that the government should force the cable industry to change its bundling practices, as if cable TV service on your terms was some fundamental right.

Posted by: BCM | April 17, 2006 5:23 PM

Good stuff today, folks. And of course the many of you who argue that the FCC's anti-indecency rulings are arbitrary have some good grounds. There is no consistency to be found in the agency's occasional enforcement of standards. But that doesn't absolve the regulators of the responsibility to assure that the public airwaves are used in the public interest. That doesn't mean censoring content, but it does mean allotting frequencies to people and businesses that will serve the public. As vague as these differences have become, there is still a distinction between the reasonably private world of cable and satellite TV, where the consumer has to subscribe and pay for content, and the public airwaves, where the government allocates space on behalf of the citizens. Because it's public, it's subject to a different standard. So yes, it ought not be as cutting edge as HBO or as explicit as Howard Stern's channel on Sirius. The FCC fails in assuring parents and children that the public airwaves will be safe for kids to watch without the good supervision that we might want parent to exercise, but know that many will not.
And the FCC fails even more miserably in the more important task of assuring that a broadcast license be used for more than just bread and circuses. Once upon a time, stations had to justify their licenses by devoting a certain amount of time to programming about local news, cultural affairs, even agricultural issues. All those requirements were dropped decades ago and the result is the utter lack of community and public service in commercial broadcasting and increasingly in public broadcasting as well.
If you want to start a cable channel, fine, you have no public responsibilities whatsoever and I have no problem with you sending out whatever swill you think the audience will buy. But if you're getting a piece of my airwaves, you owe me and every other American. The FCC should make you serve us; the specifics of the content you create are none of the government's business, but you ought to be required to churn out documentaries, news and other public service programming, and not at 5 a.m. on Sundays, but throughout your broadcast schedule.
Call me prudish, fussy, old-fashioned, whatever. I prefer to think of this as a ground rule of basic American democracy: If you use public space that's allotted by the government for the people, you need to be doing a public service.

Posted by: Fisher | April 17, 2006 9:59 PM

With all due respect, Marc, you seem to be shifting your point now. Requiring stations on the public airwaves to devote a certain amount of time to programming in the public interest is laudable, and I'd add, bring back the Fairness Doctrine while you're at it.

But your original post was about more strict enforcement of "decency," including yanking licenses away from stations that transgress. That isn't the same thing at all.

I will agree that the standards for broadcast should be stricter than for more user-chosen channels. But the hysteria that erupts in some quarters over a quick glimpse of a breast or an utterance of a particular word is sad to see.

Posted by: SteveG | April 17, 2006 11:14 PM

Comrade Fisher is correct. It is time you little people learned that the First Amendment only protects political speech. The First Amendment has nothing to do with providing entertainment, piquing curiosity, or indulging in fantasy. NO! It is about us teaching you what is good for you. That is the essense of political speech. And if you cannot define "political speech," don't worry. We'll just tell you. After all, we're the ones who live in Chevy Chase.

Posted by: Joseph S. | April 18, 2006 1:32 AM

So many of the previous posters were looking at the question of content from the perspective of children and that parents should supervise and decide for their children. I am an adult and have been so for MANY years. I don't enjoy listening to those two words that Fisher refers to in the title of this piece and watching sexual content. I avoid certain shows and networks on TV because I am not amused or entertained by foul language or sexually explicit content. I watch TV for entertainment and expect the public airwaves to provide decent shows for my entertainment. By the way, I do not watch NYPD, tho' I do enjoy "cop shows."

Posted by: Historian | April 18, 2006 9:17 AM

"I watch TV for entertainment and expect the public airwaves to provide decent shows for my entertainment."

Well, *I* watch TV for entertainment, but am almost never entertained. Not because the shows aren't "decent," but because they're "terrible." Does that mean I can demand the FCC step in and mandate a minimum percentage of shows involving a thoughtful examination of the human condition?

If not, why do you get to set standards for what constitutes good television but I don't?

Posted by: cminus | April 18, 2006 12:31 PM

Marc, you just totally changed your point. I agree that broadcasters should do a lot more public service. Absolutely. But that's not what your original post was about.

Posted by: h3 | April 19, 2006 11:09 AM

cminus -- what do you consider "thoughtful examination of the human condition?" Does it contain four-letter words and sexual innuendo?

I don't watch what I define as terrible TV which includes the so-called reality shows, soap operas, tho" I don't advocate them being removed from the airwaves. I even don't need to have the off-color stuff eliminated from the airwaves -- I either turn off the TV or watch something else at then, like old movies on AMC or TCM because they are entertainment without supperfluous language.

Posted by: Historian | April 19, 2006 11:17 AM

Whether or not something is a thoughtful examination of the human condition has nothing to do with whether or not it has four-letter words or sexual innuendo. To use an example from the literary world, "Wuthering Heights" is a masterpiece, but so is "A Clockwork Orange," rape scenes and all.

My complaint isn't that there's too much or too little strong language or sexual innuendo or violence on television, it's that, no matter whether it's deemed "family friendly" or "for mature audiences," what's on television is generally insipid.

If my tastes had the force of law, I'd ban Howard Stern and "Touched By An Angel," "Trading Spouses" and "American Idol," but allow the uncut showing of, say, Stanley Kubrick movies, whether they have no strong language or sexual content or are dripping with it.

Obviously, the law should not be there to enforce my tastes. Why should it be there to enforce yours?

Posted by: cminus | April 19, 2006 12:33 PM

The real Joke is about order viagra online with some line of letters

Posted by: viagra order | September 7, 2006 9:48 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company