Sunday, September 25, 2005

PotTV: Where's The FCC?

Anyone unlucky enough to catch this night's episode of Fox's new comedy War at Home witnessed the moral decay of society, televised. The entire episode revolved around one simple plot: the parents lose their stash of pot and assume that their daughter stole it. However, they don't want it back to prevent their daughter from using it, they want it back to smoke for themselves. Later in the episode, they lie about it being theirs and say that the grandmother needs it for medicinal purposes. Their youngest son overhears this statement and proceeds to buy some marijuana and take it to his grandmother assuming she needs it, but I'll come back to that later. Well, as the episode nears the end, the audience discovers that the daughter did in fact steal it, and in turn had it stolen by her little brother (not the youngest). However, the two brothers were the only ones who didn't want to smoke the stash. The daughter is witnessed explaining on her phone, as her father explained to his wife, that maybe she smoked the whole stash and just forgot. As the credits roll in, the audience witnesses the grandmother in a smoke-filled room with her friend after they've finished the pot that her grandson had delivered, glad that her son-in-law was so "thoughtful."

If you aren't appalled by this lack of decency, please feel free to run full speed into a brick wall. Maybe that will knock some sense into you. The problem with tonight's show isn't the surprising lack of morals, it's the expectation of it. Modern television is riddled with cases of similar circumstances: characters engaging in immoral or even ILLEGAL behavior. Thankfully there's an organization dedicated to making sure these shows stay off of primetime. But wait a second, what has happened to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in recent years? In the last few years, we've seen the dawn of an era where cursing, promiscuity and drug use have been witnessed by all ages during primetime. Now, many would call it hypocrisy to demand government regulation of the airwaves while cursing all other cases of government intervention. However, as most intelligent people are aware, the purpose of government is to regulate or control what private enterprise is unable to. In pursuit of profits, no private enterprise would voluntarily undertake the mission of cleaning up the airwaves. Therefore, this task has been bestowed upon the FCC.

This problem can easily be explained in terms of public and private enterprise. National television channels like NBC, Fox, CBS and ABC are available at no charge to the public and therefore can be subject to government regulation. However, cable stations like HBO require a subscription to view and those who subscribe know that its shows are unsuitable for all ages. Therefore, HBO can allow shows like "Deadwood" to air containing nearly fifty "f words" per episode. Viewers pay a premium to view these shows and therefore can choose to cancel if they don't like what they see. In the case of stations like Fox, it is the obligation of the FCC to monitor and regulate what is broadcast during primetime to ensure children aren't subject to unsuitable material. Viewers are stuck with whatever "filth" is aired and can do nothing but complain to watchdog organizations when they see what they presume to be FCC violations. In the case of the Super Bowl incident, CBS was subject to hefty lawsuits, as was ABC with its "towel drop" commercial. However, the suggestive behavior of the Monday Night Football commercial on ABC has become commonplace on shows like "The O.C." Again, you must ask yourselves, "where's the FCC?"

1 comment:

The Anti-Puritan said...

FCC stands for Federal Communist Commission. Broadcast TV stations compete for ratings just as HBO and Showtime compete for subscriptions, so the invisible hand of the marketplace is at work all the same.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., engaged in ILLEGAL behavior, too. Some of us think that prohibition of marijuana is comparable to Jim Crow as an offense against human rights. In 2000, an author named Peter McWilliams choked to death on his own vomit because a federal judge wouldn’t let him use marijuana to control the severe nausea caused by his AIDS and cancer. That episode of The War at Home was an eloquent satire of our society’s deadly self-righteousness about marijuana. We mustn’t allow “compassionate” big-government conservatism to stifle debate on the issue.