What Makes a TV Show Indecent?

AshtabulaGuy writes "On February 28th the (United States) Federal Communications Commission released three orders denying complaints that particular broadcasts were "indecent". What were the grounds and what were the cases? Saving Private Ryan, Will & Grace, and Arrested Development (all three news releases in Adobe Acrobat format) were all cases that the FCC recently disposed of. Each order that the news releases refer to provides the background to the particular complaint and a methodical laying out of reasoning for denying the complaint. For librarians wondering whether or not something is "indecent", the orders provide useful views as to the FCC's thinking. For those wanting to see the orders to understand more of what the FCC is thinking beyond what is said in the terse news releases, they are available in Adobe Acrobat format for Saving Private Ryan, Will & Grace, and Arrested Development."

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Have they ever said?

Has the FCC ever actually come out and said what they consider to be indecent? I mean, there was a Superbowl commercial featuring a young chippy experiencing a "wardrobe malfunction." The network edited down the commercial and removed the part where someone says the words "wardrobe malfunction." Why? Because they thought they might get fined for using those words in such a commercial. They didn't know they'd get fined. They thought they might.

Same holds true with a commercial pulled from the lineup all together that portrayed a cleaning guy accidently tearing the breast of Janet Jackson's suit before the performance and then fixing it with tape. Same reasoning, they thought they might face a fine. The problem is that no one knows what's indecent by FCC standards because the FCC, to my knowledge, has yet to define the terms. I think it'd be absolutely hilarious if the big networks got together and filed a class action lawsuit against the FCC for freedom of speech violations and incompetent business practices.

I still don't get it, Janet Jackson's tit was offensive, but the commerical before that of a flaming horse fart to a woman's face was a-okay? As was the two gold medal female beach volleyball players playing in the snow, losing the ball in the water, doing rock/paper/scissors to figure out who went and got the ball, and the loser saying "Damn." Oh and let's not forget the beer commercial featuring a tiny dog attaching himself to a guy's nuts.

No wonder the networks are paranoid. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the FCC is run by idiots and that over 90% of the complaints to the FCC come from one or two organizations, specifically the Parent's Television Council and Focus on the Family. Those are only two of the most far right groups in America and they issue over 90% of the total complaints to the FCC. I don't know about you folks, but dammit, I don't need two far right wing politico-religious groups telling me what I can and cannot watch.

Re:Have they ever said?

So what's your definition of indecency? Its all well and good to say people are able to decide for themselves but public airwaves are no different then the public square. It should be open to all as long a reasonable behavior exists.

The reality is the Janet Jackson fiasco was a legitmate gripe. There isn't going to be nudity on public television anymore then there is going to be nudes walking down the street. So about acknowledging the reality and help come up with a reasonable definition instead of sitting on the sidelines poking fun?

Re:Have they ever said?

The reality is the Janet Jackson fiasco was a legitmate gripe. There isn't going to be nudity on public television anymore then there is going to be nudes walking down the street. So about acknowledging the reality and help come up with a reasonable definition instead of sitting on the sidelines poking fun?

Uhh, ever watched an episode of NYPD Blue? There's nudity. I figure that pointing out that a breast was offensive while horse farts and swearing was okay did acknowledge the reality. The breast was bad, flaming horse farts are good. Going further, it's not up to me to come up with a reasonable definition of indecency. That's supposedly the job of the FCC which, by the way, they haven't done. All they've done is say one thing is okay, but something else isn't. Networks are thus forced to feel their way in the dark and hope they don't get a multi million dollar fine because they didn't know or didn't think that something would draw the ire of the FCC. Networks are actually going back and editing reruns for god's sake so they don't get fined. Episodes of NYPD Blue shown years ago have been redited for reruns thanks to the FCC not defining terms.

Additionally, I can sit on the sidelines and poke fun all I want, dude. That's my frigging right. Besides, in case you haven't noticed, that's all that you and I can do. We sure as hell didn't elect anyone in the FCC. We sure as hell have no control over the FCC. And you and me sure as hell aren't going to change the FCC. That's also an aknowledgement of reality. I sure as hell don't see you out there moving and shaking and making a whole lot of difference. So I suggest that you come down off your high horse and aknowledge a few realities yourself.

Re:Have they ever said?

As long as they are willing to make at least *some* effort I'm willing to let them muddle through it. I have other fish to fry.

And for the record, you can change anything. How much depends on what you're willing to put into it.

Re:Have they ever said?

The problem is that no one knows what's indecent by FCC standards because the FCC, to my knowledge, has yet to define the terms.

I believe that your Supreme Court defined the term in the ruling that established safe harbour provisions. Indecent is the mention or showing of sexual or excretory organs. By that definition, you can allow full dorsal nudity so long as the cheeks of the buttocks are not spread or the labia or scrotum are not showing, and full frontal nudity for women as long as the mon venus and the labia are properly obscured by their pubic hair. Men would still have to cover up, of course. Breasts are not sexual organs and the Janet Jackson Tit affair and top free women are not indecent. In fact there are lower court rulings in the U.S. and Canada to that effect.

The problem is not sex, it's people who can't handle sexuality.

Well, that's not the only one. Another problem is people who can't differentiate between bad taste and true offense.

But, then, both are highly subjective.

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