Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"You know, I rather like this God fellow. Very theatrical, you know. Pestilence here, a plague there. Omnipotence ... gotta get me some of that."

Ah, like an audit notification from the IRS, something wicked this way comes from the Parents Television Council. L. Brent Bozell's little cadre of angry culture warriors are back again with their annual Top Ten Best and Worst Network TV shows of the year.

From the Parents Television Council:

"We provide this analysis as a guide for parents because it's very difficult to monitor all the shows that are appropriate for family viewing and those that are not," said L. Brent Bozell, president of the PTC. "We were alarmed to find that the three worst shows on prime time broadcast television are being marketed as family-friendly when, in fact, these shows are none other than wolves in sheep's clothing."

"Families should not be deceived. The top three worst shows all contain crude and raunchy dialogue with sex-themed jokes and foul language. Even worse is the fact that Hollywood is peddling its filth to families with cartoons like The Family Guy and American Dad. These two shows have contained scenes in which characters are shown having sex and topics such as masturbation, incest, bestiality, and necrophilia are routinely discussed.

So what shows are on the bad list? The Top Three are The War At Home, The Family Guy and American Dad. Now, I've only seen The Family Guy out of those three, and it's hilarious. Note that this list only involves the six networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB. Otherwise, HBO would fill the entire list by themselves.

The so-called "Good List"? A morbid collection of vapidity not fit for human consumption. Well, maybe not that bad. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is pretty good. I also like The Bernie Mac Show and, as much as I hate to admit it here, I have been known to watch Reba on occasion.

I have a number of problems with the PTC's list in general. First of all, what they're calling "family values" is really "conservative Christian social values"; a fact which they choose not to disclose in their annual ratings. Frank discussions about sex, masturbation and even pot smoking, via "bad list" nominee That 70's Show, are not bad things, even for children of certain ages. Besides, if Jesus were alive today, does Bozell really thing He would watch the vacuous American Idol? Of course not! Christ would watch Rome...

Second, it is far past time that people recognize that animation does not equal children's programming. The Family Guy and American Dad are NOT children's shows even though they are animated. Just like The Simpsons and South Park and Drawn Together...the list goes on and on. The PTC continues to peddle the idea, year after year, that just because something is animated, it must be family friendly or it's some kind of false advertising.

Finally, the PTC is blaming network television when the real problem lies with the parents. According to their research, millions of kids are watching CSI. How far out of touch do you have to be as a parent to not realize that crime dramas are not children's shows? It's not the fault of the television networks that certain parents are irresponsibly using their televisions to baby-sit their children. There are entire channels of quality educational and children's programming available; PBS, Noggin and Animal Planet are just a few. Plus, every TV manufactured today comes standard with a V-chip. No parent has any excuse to complain that their children are watching things that are inappropriate. It is the parents' fault, not the the television channels.

Advocating for censorship under the guise of protecting family interests is blatantly dishonest. The PTC is not performing any kind of useful service to anyone. It is merely acting as some kind of media nanny; chanting "naughty, naughty" at people that enjoy television they find objectionable. Well, I find The 700 Club very objectionable but I don't think any sort of "alert" needs to be rushed out with the 5 o'clock news about it. I just won't watch it.

My advice to the PTC and the parents who don't want their children watching objectionable programming: turn off the TV. Spend some time with your kids. After all, it's only TV.

Now, enough of this reading and writing. Time to watch CSI: New York...

No comments: