Tolerance, Trash, TV & Me
So, where were we? Well, in addition to receiving vitriol-soaked missives attacking me for daring to voice an opinion different from theirs, and – in the name of tolerance and civil dialogue, ironically – demanding the removal of my column from this paper and the silencing of my views (I wonder, do these folks ever look in the mirror and recognize themselves as the primary source of the hate, intolerance and demonization in public discourse today? Probably not.) … besides that, last week I was writing about primetime television and the possible elimination of FCC restrictions on content allowed to be shown by network broadcasters.
You remember primetime television, right? That block of time reserved for good, wholesome family entertainment? Not hardly. According to the Parents Television Council (PTC), a group that advocates for “family friendly TV,” the use of profanity alone has skyrocketed in recent years. A recent Wall Street Journal article quoted a PTC report last year showing 1,227 bleeped or unbleeped uses of the “F-word” or “S-word” on primetime network broadcasts. As recently as 2005 there were only five such instances. Sadly, some would call that progress.
Actually, I’m surprised last year’s bleeping total isn’t higher. It’s gotten so that you can’t even watch a morning news program without the ever-present, ever-lovin’ sound of bleeps. When you also factor in the violent and perverted plots, along with the flood of salacious, lewd and downright crude content, I’m beginning to think that “TV” should stand for “Toxically Vile” or “Terribly Violent.” Maybe “Too Vacuous” would be even more appropriate.
I’m no longer surprised to hear of parents who have either completely pulled the plug on TV in their homes or who have dramatically limited what content they allow in by way of strict parental controls or prescreened DVDs.
Every once in a while, however, a glimmer of hope appears on the screen. In this case, it isn’t the TV, but the silver screen.
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were trying to decide which of the current movies to go see in the theater. Although it was far from my first choice, we had heard several critics rave about “The Artist” and – never one to miss the chance to score beaucoup hubby points for willingly going to see a chick flick – we went. I was hesitant, to say the least. After all, the film is set in 1927 and it’s entirely in black and white. It’s a silent movie about a silent film star. You read that right – a silent movie. As in, no dialogue. And I was supposed to sit through 100 minutes of that?
The movie turned out to be one of the most enjoyably entertaining, inventively original pieces of movie making we’ve had the pleasure of seeing in a long time. The plot was engaging, the acting Oscar-worthy, the costumes, music and art direction were all perfect. But how could that possibly be? There wasn’t a naked body (other than “Uggie,” a too-cute Jack Russell Terrier), no F-bombs or any swear words for that matter, no slam against the U.S. or our military, no corrupt conservative politicians, no evil, profit-hungry corporations, no hypocritical Christian character, not even a single drunken, party-hearty low-life from New Jersey.
Even more surprising, “The Artist” won several top awards at the recent Golden Globes ceremony – an awards show with a penchant for celebrating anything controversial, non-traditional and counter-cultural. Just this week, the movie was also nominated for at least six Oscars. So, as I said, maybe there’s reason to hope. Then again, if the networks ever wind up showing “The Artist” on TV, they’ll probably want to trash it up to boost ratings.
And now, I’d better shut up. Because I certainly wouldn’t want to get any letters accusing me of inciting malice or hatred towards tolerant and enlightened progressives who like their films with sound.
I’ll see you ’round town.