By Bryn Levy
On Mon., Mar. 14 the Federal Communications Commission, the American government panel that enforces decency standards on broadcasters, ruled regarding the Nov. 15, 2004 intro to ABC’S Monday Night Football that featured Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens and Desperate Housewives star Nicolette Sheridan. In the intro, Sheridan is wearing a towel, she drops the towel and then hops into Owens’ arms. Following mass complaints of indecency, the FCC reviewed the offending material. They ruled that the segment was not indecent and did not warrant disciplinary action.
This ruling hopefully marks a return to some sort of sanity to the FCC. This is, after all, the same body that has handed out fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars like Jelly Tots since Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction.”
‘How often are visible minorities given roles in television or movies that aren’t depictions of the same tired stereotypes? If one were to believe the media’s skewed depiction of the world, it would seem there might be two black people on Earth who weren’t either criminals or professional athletes, and that all immigrants can’t speak English and are only capable of performing the most menial jobs. This insults our intelligence and has far more potential to corrupt our young than mere nudity.
Even more pervasive than the implicit racism in media is violence. Depictions of mindless murder, torture and other violence are all over the place. Worse still, many violent programs are aimed at children. Witness a recent Warner Brothers decision to release a cartoon series in which their stable of classic cartoon characters are going to be revamped as muscle-bound superheroes.
The first responsibility for policing the media doesn’t lie with regulatory bodies or special interest groups who too often play babysitter to people who don’t share their values. It lies with parents, who need to take the time to teach their kids to make responsible viewing choices, or better yet, to get their asses off the couch altogether and play outside.
Of course parents can’t police their children all the time and they’re bound to see content that is “inappropriate.” Content that depicts sexuality really ought to be the last of our worries. Sex is a natural human activity that, when engaged in responsibly and with respect, doesn’t harm anyone. If I ever become a parent, I would want my kids to have sex someday; I don’t want to raise 40-year-old virgins. I certainly would not want them growing up bigoted or going out and hacking people to ribbons. It’s time for North America’s “Sex Police” to devote their considerable energies to causes that are of far more pressing importance.