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A.A. Bondy
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For What I Don't Become


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Saddest Ghost Lamp

Thursday, March 16, 2006

More on the FCC Fines

OK--I have been watching the wrong television shows. The Parents Television Council, which prissily advocates for more "family-friendly" programming and is the major force in mobilizing write-in indecency complaint campaigns to the FCC, has helpfully put together a clip reel of all the nudity, sexual content, and obscenity on television that it decries, and they are distributing it for free over the Internet to anyone who wants to watch it. Even children! It's unedited. And it is awesome. [via Lost Remote.]

But I bring it up because it contains the offending "Without a Trace" broadcast that the FCC deemed worth a $3.6 million indecency fine. And aside from the fact that the clip quite clearly does not show any actual sex acts--it's a sort of writhing mass of teenagers lying on top of each other at a party, all clothed, and with no actual thrusting or any other movement that would suggest anything more than making out--it demonstrates the profound wrongness and idiocy of the people making decisions at the FCC.

According to the complaint, the broadcast's "background sounds, which include moaning, add to the graphic and explicit sexual nature of the depictions." When I read this, prior to having watched the clip, I assumed that it referred to sounds being made by the actors. And I think it is reasonable for the FCC to consider things like moaning in an indecency analysis. But, in fact, the moaning is clearly a part of the crappy club song being played over the footage. You don't actually hear the actors moaning, you just hear a song that includes moaning. In other words, the FCC found the broadcast to be indecent in part because of the soundtrack.

It may seem pedantic to point this stuff out, but these people are making decisions that are going to cost CBS and other station owners $3.6 million. It's a disgrace.