Sunday, September 10, 2006

The FCC Must Be Stopped

Did you ever think you'd see the day when a dame would be in trouble for using profanity on an awards show? At the Emmys, Helen Mirren expressed relief at not going "ass over tit" as she mounted the stage - an understandable sentiment when you consider the long dress and tall heels she was wearing. And she probably thought nothing of it, because in the U.K. you can say "ass" and "tit" on TV. You can even show them. Over here, it's because of a tit that we're all in such a tizzy.

Since 2004, and subsequent raising of the maximum possible FCC fines to $375,000, the TV climate has gotten so puritanical that many CBS affiliates are having second thoughts about airing the documentary "9/11" tonight because of the language used by the firefighters. This is a documentary that already ran, unedited, on the six-month and one-year anniversaries of the attacks. Are we somehow more in need of protection now? Will all that cuss language give us nightmares? Given the horror of that day and the extreme stress the firefighters found themselves under, the language they chose to express themselves with is hardly surprising. You can take away the offensive language, but their comments will lose some of the emotional impact, as well as the truth of what it was like to be there, which is the entire point of a documentary.

But maybe we shouldn't blame the FCC. Maybe we should be blaming the American Family Association and the Parents Television Council, both of which put pressure on the FCC by sending in thousands of complaints about anything they consider indecent. They fail to realize that the easiest way to protect yourself from "indecent" material is not to watch it, and the easiest way to protect your children from the same is to activate your V-chip, which has been standard on all TVs since 2000. Won't someone please think of the children... by using the V-chip?

Personally, what I found truly offensive about the whole Helen Mirren affair was that Calista Flockhart repeated the same comment a couple minutes later. Get your own joke, lady.