Monday, November 22, 2004

Heather, Will You Marry Me?

I'm going to take a step back from politics to shill for one of my favorite writers these days. Heather Havrilesky writes the always amusing I Like to Watch column for Salon every Monday. And she maintains the equally entertaining Rabbit Blog as well. She's a TV critic and she's very funny - and those happen to be two of my favorite things. So check her out.

Maybe she'll go ego-surfing one of these days, and come across the DoG, and email me with thanks, and then...

What? Are you still here? Oh, um... OK, well, here's a clip from today's ILTW:

Land of the fee, home of the depraved
Speaking of inappropriate, did you know that soldiers facing death don't swear, and guys who watch football blush at the slightest hint of nudity? These are the first hearty laugh lines of a new, improved, FCC-patrolled America. Tee-hee!

Two weeks ago, a handful of ABC affiliates pulled "Saving Private Ryan" from their schedules, fearing fines from the FCC for the film's profanities despite assurances from ABC headquarters that the company would pay any fees. And last week, the FCC was investigating a skit at the beginning of ABC's "Monday Night Football" broadcast in which Nicollette Sheridan of "Desperate Housewives" drops her towel to lure Terrell Owens away from the game.

Forget that the complaints about the skit obviously had everything to do with its being not only painfully bad and horribly acted, but also shamelessly tacky in cross-promoting an ABC show. No one's calling for an end to the rampant mixing of advertising and content, though. After all, marketing these days is so pervasive and so indistinguishable from the programming itself that most of us have given up and abandoned ourselves to being tattooed with tiny ads from the inside out. Besides, if the leader of our great nation believes we should let massive corporations have whatever their little hearts desire, from our sporting events (Outback Bowl, anyone?) to the war in Iraq (Halliburton Bowl, anyone?), who are we to stand in his way? Corporations make stuff better! It's the boobies that are bad! It's the boobies that are bringing us down as a people!

Ever since Justin Timberlake released a trap door on Janet Jackson's bustier, allowing her right boob to range free at last, the FCC has been on a filth-fighting crusade. But instead of setting forth clear, reasonable standards, they reacted to the Great Boob Emancipation of '03 with all of the calm, measured tones of a Salem preacher rallying an angry mob to burn any and all sneaky-looking local women at the stake. Did the FCC scan a copy of "Saving Private Ryan" and let ABC know whether the profanities (which Steven Spielberg quite reasonably refused to have removed) would result in a fine? No. They took the cowardly path and waited to see how a pious minority might react instead.

Breathtaking, isn't it? How efficiently and effectively the FCC has signaled to this country that social conservatives will be the true enforcers of what's broadcast on national television!

And now the NFL is jumping on the dog pile, proclaiming the "Desperate Housewives" skit "unsuitable" for its viewers. Ah yes. If those boobies are bouncing around under an obscenely tight sweater in a nearly pornographic Coors-sponsored ad, no problem. But if we can imagine them pressed up against the football uniform of a black man? Well, that's just obscene.

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