How would you like the be the guy who gets his ass kicked by Tommy Hilfiger? Yes, yes, I know. Fashion designers are tough guys, way more tougher than guys in rock bands. But still….I could take Tommy hopping on one foot with one hand tied behind my back. Do you know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby. You’re going to diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie.
I don’t usually read the Wall Street Journal, but I found a link somewhere to this story about FCC overreaching when it comes to indecency fines. It seems the networks aren’t taking the record fines dished out by the FCC laying down. Good! Who made the FCC the public arbiter of taste?
The interesting thing to me is that it’s blatantly clear that the FCC is in the pocket of a very small group of people who get their panties in a wad over….Bono saying the F-word. (I do agree with them on one point, though….the silicone monstrosity claiming to be Janet Jackson’s breast was indeed quite scary.) And who is this group, you ask? The Parent’s Television Council, which has been directing their members (Fans? Parents? Council members?) to send e-mail complaints to the FCC. And it’s quite a campaign, too.
The WSJ says:
“Last year, the FCC received 233,531 complaints about indecent broadcasts, compared with 346 in 2001.”Yep, in 2001, they got less than one complaint a day. It was almost as if the entire fifth grade class of Benjamin Franklin Elementary in Pocatello, ID rose up and demanded a boob-free boob tube. (Okay, I made up the school….but I do believe Pocatello, ID is a real place.) When you compare the 346 complaints with the millions of viewers who watch television in any hourly bloc, it’s statistically clear that they are a minority so small they don’t even deserve to be called a minority. For instance, in November of last year, the top-rated network show was CSI, an hour long drama shown on one channel, with an estimated 29,456,000 viewers. (Here’s the chart.)
According to my math, the 346 complaints the FCC received for the entire 2001 calendar year works out to be about 0.001174633351439435% of the viewing audience of a single ONE-HOUR SHOW!!!
Maybe I’m just comparing apples and oranges (the viewing audience of one show in 05 compared to total complaints in 01), but even if you take last year’s total of complaints (233, 531) and compare it to that same hour (out of the 8,760 hours in 2005), it’s STILL less than one percent. (According to my calculations, the FCC whiners make up exactly 0.7928130092341119% of the viewing audience for a single show.)
Of course, I realize it’s somewhat insensitive to say to these people “GROW UP AND CHANGE THE FUCKING CHANNEL” but that’s what they need to hear. They are too statistically infinitesimal to have this much influence on the rest of us.
And just in case you don’t think they have influence, consider this:
PTC complaints were behind the record $3.6 million fine proposed in March against CBS affiliates for an episode of "Without a Trace," which featured a brief scene of a teen sex orgy. Of about 6,500 complaints filed against stations that received fines, all but three appeared to originate as computer-generated form letters, a Wall Street Journal review of the complaints found.During the same November 05 week, Without A Trace hit number 4 on the Neilsen charts with a viewership of 20,784,000. The PTC’s 6500 robotic complaints represent about 0.03127405696689761% of Without A Trace’s audience (less than one percent!). And yet they were successful in getting the FCC to lobby a $3.6 million fine on CBS. Is that fair? I think not. Are they familiar with the concept of a remote control? Apparently not.
You’ve heard of tyranny of the majority. Welcome to the tyranny of the minority. (Hell, tyranny of the one percenters!)
Perusing the PTC site, I found the handy-dandy link to make a complaint. Interestingly, it also provides the criteria for what the FCC considers to obscene. Check it:
The Courts have said that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment and cannot be broadcast at any time. To be considered obscene, material must meet a 3-prong test:
An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient (arousing lustful feelings) interest;
The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
The usual suspects:
That 70s Show
Without a Trace
And the stretches:
Father of the Pride (You've got problems if you're aroused by a cartoon)
Live 8 (You gotta be kidding me? No artistic or political value? Not even a little?)
The Billboard Music Awards
The VIBE Awards
And these are the clowns the FCC is beholden to?