On Wednesday, the tight-asses at the FCC fined a number of shows, including CBS for allowing Janet Jackson’s breast to horrify the nation. But besides the $3.6 million they fined CBS for an orgy scene on Without a Trace, breaking the previous record set by Married by America’s fine, they also decided to fine one reality show but cleared a complaint against another.
You really need to read the full report–[PDF], [Word]–because it’s fascinating with its level of detail and analysis, and this is our government. Also, while the FCC currently only regulates the broadcast networks, one Senator, Ted Stevens of Alaska, is trying to regulate cable and satellite now, too, thus holding shows like South Park, The Daily Show, The Sopranos, and everything else to these same bullshit standards. And those standards are arbitrary: Only CBS affiliates in the central and mountain time zones were fined for the Without a Trace epiosde, because that’s the only region where it aired at 9 p.m.; after 10 p.m., the start of the “safe harbor,” our standards for decency change, apparently.
In reality TV fine news, The Surreal Life 2 was hit for an episode that aired February 8, 2004. Footage of “several pixilated views of nude breasts and a nude body, as well as other sexual images and innuendo” was found to be “explicit and graphic” and “presented in a manner to titillate and shock viewers.”
The FCC says “a child watching this program could easily discern that nude or partially nude adults are attending a party and participating in, or soliciting participation in, sexual activities.” Apparently, that’s a bad thing, and the FCC fined The WB affiliate in Washington, DC, $36,500.
However, the FCC cleared CBS for content in an episode of The Amazing Race 6 in which the words “Fuck Cops!” was visible in graffiti on the side of a train. One person’s nine-year-old daughter saw that, which led that simpleton to complain. The complainer wrote, “[m]idway through that episode, my nine-year-old daughter asked me what was written on the side of a bus that the contestants were embarking upon. She stated that she thought that was a bad word that she was not supposed to say.” It’s a fucking word; get the fuck over it.
Although the FCC says the word has “a sexual connotation” (Did the graffiti artists really want to fuck the cops? I’d guess not), they noted that it “is small, out of focus, and difficult to read. Unless one is looking directly at or for the words, the average viewer would not even notice the graffiti.” They also found that “the shot of the graffiti is not shocking, pandering, or titillating because it is barely visible. Indeed, the average viewer would not have noticed the graffiti.”
For the person who did notice and complained, I propose a fine of $3.6 million, just to teach him or her a lesson.