Tag Archives: FCC

Inadvertent Language

This morning’s Los Angeles Times article, “A %$#@ slippery slope on raw talk?”, discusses the recent court ruling that relaxed FCC restrictions on inadvertent swearing. On one side, watchdog groups (and the FCC) are complaining that this could lead to swearing and nudity throughout prime time. (Won’t someone think of the children?) On the other side, the networks point out that it’s not likely to open the floodgates of indecency:

Broadcasters could air expletives after 10 o’clock “every night of the week,” one executive said. “We don’t for a reason, because we don’t think our audiences want to hear it.”

My take: this is a much-needed relaxation of rules that, frankly, have gotten overly uptight in the last few years. If an adult screws up and accidentally lets loose with stronger language than is acceptable on TV, and the guy with his finger on the *bleep* button misses it, chances are they both already know they messed up. Give ’em a slap on the wrist. The ton of bricks approach is unnecessary, and ultimately counter-productive.

It takes a spectacularly skewed worldview to think that the occasional slip-up in the heat of the moment is equivalent in naughty content to, say, a scripted scene from The Sopranos. Once a year vs. 10 times in every scene? Big deal. We’re not talking about murder, we’re talking about words—words that everyone (yes, including your kids) has heard plenty of times.

On a related note, the article brings up the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, since it spurred the “war on obscenity” into action. Personally, I think the most disturbing thing about the incident is the fact that all the blame is placed on Jackson herself. No one seems to remember that it was Justin Timberlake who ripped off part of her wardrobe.

Desperate in Decency

It looks like the FCC isn’t completely insane. After four months, they concluded that the now-infamous Desperate Housewives locker room promo isn’t indecent after all. “Although the scene apparently is intended to be titillating, it simply is not graphic or explicit enough to be indecent under our standard.”

I saw the spot—or at least something that matched the description exactly—and it was no more explicit than typical prime-time fare. I thought it was cheesy, but I honestly didn’t think any more about it, so when the controversy hit, I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was.

But it took them four months to figure this out?

Ah, well, I suppose it’s fast for the FCC. I mean, it took them more than a year to clear a complaint against Angel, by which time the series had been off the air for nine months.

(Incidentally, I’ve never seen a single episode of Desperate Housewives. It just doesn’t look like my kind of show.)