An Independence Day Assortment
by L. Brent Bozell III
Submitted for your perusal: Snippets from the entertainment
scene, suitable for reading while sunning at the beach, shading on the porch,
waiting for the burgers to cook, or watching boxers eat one another.
--Those favoring a truly informative television ratings
system have scored a victory - of sorts. Broadcasters (except, at this point,
NBC) have agreed to rate programming for content. The letters S (sex), L (foul
language), V (violence), and D (suggestive dialogue) will be applied to prime
time shows when the networks, which rate their own fare, deem it necessary.
But it's a partial victory at best. Those letters will be
used not as a replacement for but in conjunction with the
current age-based ratings. For example, a "Seinfeld" episode
including the usual quantity of raunchy sexual innuendo plus an obscenity or
two presumably would be rated TV-PG-LD. In other words, the meaningful part of
the rating - the content notation that tells you what's actually on the show -
is preceded by NBC's opinion that the episode is perfectly acceptable for all
save young children. Of course, sensible viewers of "Seinfeld,"
ABC's "Spin City," and other sex-obsessed sitcoms know this isn't
So the problem with disingenuous ratings continues.
I suspect the industry is hanging on to age-based ratings in
the hope that the audience, confronted with all those extra letters, will find
the expanded system confusing - and meaningless. To give the public (in
particular, parents) a simple yet comprehensive content system a la HBO is to
allow the public to make judicious choices. That means making the decision to
ban from the household certain programs. And that the industry
--In the wake of the Southern Baptists' boycott, the Walt
Disney Co. is backing down?a little. Its subsidiary Hollywood Records has
pulled from stores the LP "The Great Milenko," by the Detroit rap
duo Insane Clown Posse. According to the New York Post, the album
"contains references to gang banging, murder and drug use [and] vulgar
slang terms for various female body parts." Moreover, the group's web
site "brag[s] about a [road] crew member named 'Billy Bill,' who was
locked up after a concert in Los Angeles for beating up a kid at a fast-food
restaurant... Their tour results: 12 fights, three arrests and $13,000 in
An anonymous source told the Post that Disney would release
Insane Clown Posse from its contract. The group appears likely to sign with
(surprise!) Interscope Records, whose toxic waste dump of a talent roster
includes Marilyn Manson and Snoop Doggy Dogg.
--The June 28 issue of TV Guide offered the magazine's
selections for television's "Hundred Greatest Episodes of All Time."
A few choices were awfully PC: the great coming-out episode of
"Ellen" was ranked #35, forty-five spots ahead of a wonderful
black-and-white, documentary-style installment of "M*A*S*H." But
something else stands out. The prominence on the list of such classic series
as "I Love Lucy," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," and "The
Honeymooners" demonstrates that in years past when supposedly artists
struggled under the old so-called restrictions on creative freedom, they
poured forth brilliantly entertaining and, yes, creative product.
--On June 20, Texas became the first state to prohibit
public funds from being invested in companies producing music which, in the
words of a New York Times article, "advocates... illegal drug use,
degradation of women, [and] assault of police officers."
From predictable quarters comes now the boorish squealing of
protests from the ACLU crowd. In this category is the comment of Cary Sherman,
a vice president with the Recording Industry Association of America, who
complains this is "a First Amendment issue." Mr. Sherman fails to
grasp that the Founders not only did not envision the right to subsidized free
speech, but probably would have shot anyone suggesting such nonsense on the
grounds of terminal stupidity.
The concerns of Larry Keith, president of the Texas State
Association of Fire Fighters, are perhaps more substantial, but equally
irresponsible. Keith believes that pension "funds should invest in
whatever make[s] them money." It's a sound business principle, but with
its inherent limitations. Would Keith propose to swell his fund's coffers with
profits from the drug trade? But that's illegal, dummy; this isn't. OK: What
about from the sale of KKK memorabilia, then?
--A final item, for those of you who (like me) ponied up the
dollars to watch that boxing buffet the other night. The Psychobabble of the
Year Award must be given to ringside commentator Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, who
witnessed the savagery, yet rather than label Mike Tyson the beast he is,
could only mumble, time and again, that this was one "confused"
individual. One wonders how Pacheco would describe Charles Manson.
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