The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

The media cringe on indecency - the Tyler Palko factor

Next Sunday's instalment in Frank Rich's (what appears to be a) series of why, oh why pieces on the putrid state of the US media looks at the effect of the FCC campaign on indecency and profanity.

In particular, at the Saving Private Ryan controversy. It's been covered to death elsewhere; but the striking point for me is that moral crusader extraordinaire Brent Bozell went on the record (at ABC's behest, it seems) to say that, by him, the proposed broadcast of the flick was hunky-dory:
Context is everything

Rich suggests that
Media owners who once might have thought that complaints by the American Family Association about a movie like "Saving Private Ryan" would go nowhere are keenly aware that the administration wants to reward its base.

But, to judge from Bozell (the very personification of that base), some profanity just isn't that profane!

Rich also cites the case of Tyler Palko of the Pittsburgh Panthers who, on NBC, said
something to the effect of, "I'm so fucking proud of this team..."

The immediate response:
NBC's Tom Hammond said immediately after, "We apologize for Tyler Palko's language in the heat of the moment after the brilliant game he had. Too bad it was marred by that moment."

It seems that the FCC has received complaints and is reviewing the situation. It is possible, however, that context will be taken into account so as to exonerate the stations concerned.

Could a practice develop with the FCC such that manly, American profanity - uttered in heat of battle or after sporting exertion, say - is excused whilst effect liberal, Hollywood profanity is liable to prosecution to the full extent of the law?

(There is a parallel in the bizarre state of the law in England on consent to assault: in theory, at least, parishioners of relatively mild S/M activities may find themselves committing serious offences. Whereas men may do much more severe damage to each other in the boxing ring with utter impunity.)

It's not that long ago - my piece of July 19 - when Viacom's boss Les Moonves was sounding the charge against the FCC's campaign of comstockery.

The current position of Big Media on the subject appears to be fetal, though. (Having not kept in touch with the subject over the election run-in, I've no real sense of the lie of the land. The pretext for research may well turn up at any minute...)

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