Recently, the We Are Family organization released a video to grade-school children in the United States featuring a line-up of popular children's television icons spreading a message of tolerance and diversity, among them the alleged homosexual lifestyle advocate-cum-animated yellow sponge of Bikini Bottom, Spongebob Squarepants. This video has religious conservative groups like Focus on the Family up in arms, accusing liberals of spreading a pro-homosexual agenda when they are merely spreading a message of diversity. So is attempting to bowdlerize television to produce "wholesome family" programming the way to improve what ails the medium today? Not only are the social conservatives' misguided efforts intolerant, they are also dogmatically driven by a minority with a skewed view of reality.
Many of these groups have their own ideologies, usually driven by intolerance or skewed religious dogma. They make it their mission to remodel whatever they are out to change in their image, without giving consideration to any other options besides their own ideals. For example, recently the group Focus on the Family came out declaring that innocent ol' Spongebob was gay (a large minority of the sponge's fan base is homosexual), and was advocating the lifestyle to impressionable young children. This is one example of an effort from a group that is not only far too deeply absorbed in their own agenda, but that also uses innocent pillars of human society, like family, for their own gains.
So what would unbridled censorship do for the medium of television? Perhaps it would be a return to what TV used to be, where programs like "The Lone Ranger" and "The Honeymooners" openly stereotyped Aboriginal people as inferior and women as subservient to men. While it was completely acceptable at this time, today many of these shows are considered to be unrepresentative to the true reality of North American society. The modern Canadian or American is no longer necessarily white, middle class and Christian, nonetheless many who are leading the efforts are informed by this same group. Even though many television programs are still ethnocentrically titled toward the Caucasian majority, efforts are being made to make television as representative to reality. To bowdlerize the television medium is to curtail these efforts and continue to ensure that programs will continue to display one race and one colour.
Is there truly a need to be so sensitive? Much of the hubbub arises because it affects the minds of impressionable children: these groups usually cry out when anything that is remotely disagreeing to their ideology, like when the ABC Monday Night Football skit featuring Philadelphia Eagles player Terrell Owens and a towel-less Desperate Housewives star Nicole Sheridan aired and it raised a completely unnecessary ruckus over a completely harmless skit that was only meant to be funny. So what is so wrong with a little comedy? While these groups are the major contributors to this utter nonsense, those who blindly subscribe to their tirade without a sober second thought are just as responsible. If parents truly want to control what their children watch on television, it is a decision which they alone must carry out, a decision that no nanny group can make.
Perhaps there is still a niche for such groups. In an age where celebrities are instant and instant celebrities use more than their proverbial 15 minutes of fame, perhaps these groups could be instrumental in helping to clear the medium of overhyped celebrities clogging program grids. But what's this? A primetime program is featuring a same-sex love scene between a Caucasian and an African-American? Oh dear, better get out those pens and picket signs!