The Federal Communications Commission’s five members—all college-educated adults over 40—continued exposing their obsession with sex and women’s bodies yesterday, fining ABC TV stations $1.4 million for showing 2.5 seconds of a woman’s bare butt.
* The show: NYPD Blue
* Air date: February 25, 2003 (yes, 5 years ago)
* Scene: woman disrobing to take a shower
* Episode: the difficulty a single parent has when hosting an overnight guest
* Number of complaints: “not a lot,” according to the FCC
* FCC charge: 1) Displaying sex organs 2) to shock or titillate 3) thus offending contemporary community standards
You can view the offending butt-clip here. It’s a rear view of a woman taking off her robe to shower. A kid accidentally walks in on her, and they’re both embarrassed. She covers up her boobies and woo-woo with her hands, and the kid retreats as fast as he can. It’s charming, it’s real, and it has nothing to do with sex.
Except to the dirty-minded FCC commissioners, for whom everything is sexual. The FCC’s bizarre description of the NYPD Blue scene includes phrases like “a full view of her buttocks and her upper legs” and “graphic depictions of sex organs.”
Everything is sexual to the Parents Television Council as well, who obsess over every hell, damn, and suggestion that adults have bodies. In praising the FCC ruling, PTC says they “demanded action” over “the graphic display of female nudity.” Such a breathless, overheated experience of two butt-seconds is pitiful. PTC censors must have replayed the clip over and over, creating the video equivalent of a sticky favorite page on dad’s old Playboy mag.
Our government has institutionalized its love of censorship by claiming the FCC can and should respond to even a few complaints over a show watched by 10 or 20 million people—and the PTC is the “public” voice it now depends on to complain about anything that unsettles deeply neurotic or guilt-driven people. The PTC’s cowardly rationale for punishing the innocent shots of two people facing one of life’s occasional embarrassments—without a single note of titillation? “We are thankful that the FCC has finally taken a stand for children and families,” said president Tim Winter.
Note all the safeguards surrounding the broadcast of this adult TV drama:
* A dozen warnings before and during the show that it contained adult material;
* It aired at 9PM in the Midwest, 10PM on the coasts, when adults could best supervise who in the house could watch it;
* It came with a Mature/Language rating that could be read by the v-chip installed on
every TV sold in America, so easily-offended people could avoid the show in advance.
And, in case you’ve forgotten, NYPD Blue had ten years of history as a ground-breaking, distinguished drama with realistic language and situations. Everyone knew what they were getting when they tuned in. That’s why they tuned in.
The FCC is empowered to fine broadcasters for harming the public with indecent programming. So what harm resulted from this 2003 episode? Forcible rape declined that year. So did teen pregnancy.
The primary harm to the country following its glimpse of Charlotte Ross’s butt is that three weeks later, America invaded Iraq. The FCC didn’t protect America from that indecency by challenging the government lies and media cheerleading that flooded TV and radio.
No. But five years later, our Republic in shambles because of a war sold primarily through media propaganda, the FCC is still “protecting” us against the supposed indecency of two seconds of a woman’s butt.
The FCC can’t serve America because it has its head up a woman’s ass. There’s the obscenity for you.
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