Adjust your tinfoil hats, kiddies, I’ve got something controversial to ramble on about. With the further induction of a growing republican majority in the House, Senate, and administration after the ‘04 election, we are witnessing winds of change throughout our society. Change can be a good thing for a nation, but for me, I feel that we are in the beginning stages of a social & cultural meltdown, rendering the concept of accountability a dead ideology in the wake. I submit the following media cluster fuck exhibit A: currently, it is being recorded that 1/3 of the ABC affiliates throughout the country are coming under intense fire from right-wing Christian associations, lobbying the FCC to incur large fines on nationwide television stations for airing Saving Private Ryan, uncut, during prime time on ‘Remembrance Day”.
When I first caught air of this, I was sort of in agreement, but please don’t misunderstand the presupposition behind my aforementioned ambivalence. I personally believe SPR is a masterpiece as far as war films go (I own the DVD). Spielberg depicts a very realistic portrayal of WWII in a graphic, no-nonsense, historically accurate, perspective. Complete with hardened ‘in-your-face’ bloody reenactments of soldiers being slaughtered in attempts to siphon off the oppressive efforts of a Nazi regime, SPR’s violence, albeit somewhat necessary to accurately convey that war is not as glamorous as some John Wayne movies might lead us to believe, isn’t exactly material suitable for all audiences.
I would later become literally incensed at the discovery that these moral objections weren’t about the violence. It is all about the movie’s use of profane words! Yep – instead of feigning outrage due to the raw footage of death and destruction displayed in the film, it seems that factions of religious organizations, morally sensitive to mere words, deem the movie’s dialogue more offensive. I think that’s just ridiculous! One has to wonder, are the people opposing the exercise of FREE SPEECH by protesting the use of swear words, under some religious-based illusion that U.S. troops never uttered the occasional ‘curse word’ or ‘racial slur’, in combat? I believe double standards in America’s network broadcasting integrity such as this are a big reason why the networks are continually dying a slow death, in the form of ratings.
Neo-con religious right-wing groups are currently demanding the FCC to do something about it, and fines could being levied to as much as $18,000 per station that aired it. However, most TV outlets caved to pressure by these groups, choosing to run alternative programming instead, much to the chagrin of viewers promised an uncut viewing of SPR, due to widespread advertising. Its a shame really, that these same groups lobbying against profane words on TV are unwilling to be accountable for themselves. ABC, the network responsible, aired trailers for it weeks before, so anyone that might take offense could simply choose to watch something else. I’m sure many that saw said trailers did just that, and even if they didn’t catch them beforehand, the broadcast provided disclaimers citing harsh language and scenes of an extreme nature.
What happened to the concept of personal responsibility? Claiming outrage ‘for children’s sake’ is logically indefensible largely due to the existence of other channels. The remote is there parents, create your own destiny. Being accountable for parental duties should not be pawned off on network television. They exist solely for the purpose of entertainment, not as an electronic babysitter. They’re just words, people. I have yet to see a case in which an individual is mentality scarred for life because of them. The same can be said for nudity, for example, Janet Jackson’s tit debacle during the Superbowl halftime show. This country lost it’s fucking mind after that, and still to this day I can’t understand why. Our priorities are certainly mixed up when outcry against shows depicting harsh language, or a partially naked human form, marginally surpasses that of murder, destruction, and general violence on prime time TV. But, I digress. Sadly, it seems some of the things I hear from people, including opinions from those of other nations, holds some truth. Collectively, America as a society is becoming lazier and lazier by the day, letting un-elected government officials like those in the FCC determine what is/what is not moral values to society. Why are we content to let others define our system of ethics rather than deciding for ourselves?
Here’s a possibility: the media has become a willing accomplice in effecting this paradigm. Over the past 5 years or so, in a campaign to make society more “PC”, news outlets have gone from objective reporting to turning out something more resembling sensationalized, tabloid-style hackery. Objective news outlets still manage to exist, but they are vastly overshadowed by this more recent trend of reporting. With help from the fairly recent establishment of 24 hour cable TV news networks, it has become mainstream. Personally, I can no longer watch news via television, as it literally nauseates me. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and other “big” news networks all seem to have become ratings-only driven, and their collective styles of reporting the “news” is very indicative of this.
Bad news is king right now, especially in this time of war. Opinionated journalism, and even outright fabrication is also very popular, and stories nowadays tend to lean towards the bias of a certain individual, or network conglomerate, sometimes intentionally making mountains of molehills, rendering objectivity irrelevant. The concept of news sources giving us stories that allow us to decide for ourselves has become passe’. Decades ago, we used to call this “yellow journalism”. But now, in today’s litigious “PC” society, we’ve opted to soften it’s meaning, settling for the more user-friendly “spin”. Sadly, journalistic integrity has been replaced by skewing of facts based upon varying degrees of bias, but almost always projected to sound objective. In reality, story writers do write specifically to convey a certain ideology, bias, or judgement, but do so in a fashion as to avoid offending certain sensibilities perceived as ‘unpopular’, therefore never themselves risking being taken to task for it. Unfortunately, today’s news sources have made it quite evident that they are willing to sacrifice ethics for ratings. Many seem easily manipulated by powers that be, getting influence from government, big business, religion, etc. to project a certain image to the public, whether it is completely accurate or not. Today’s media is all about the prose. If Dan Rather reports it, it has to be true, right?
This opinion brings me full circle to the topic at hand: is our media manipulating our senses of right and wrong? I think so. Take the SPR issue. Vocal religious freaks get bent out of shape over vocabulary contained in a perfectly good film, and media outlets are all a frenzy about it. Enough already. I’ve seen this issue “spun” in so many directions that I would need years of research to discern them all. Is it really necessary? No. Does it attract viewers? You bet your ass it does. The gist is, if the language offends you, don’t watch it! There is literally hundreds of more ‘morally sensitive” alternatives out there for you to peruse. If you expose yourself to it intentionally and still bitch about it, well then you’re probably a lazy, hate-filled extremist fuckhead, and your opinion is as valuable as fecal matter.
Be responsible for yourself, America. Don’t let moral extremism or partisan media propaganda tell you what’s right or wrong. Decide on your own and create your destiny, or the fate of our present society is destined for failure. Later.