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July 21, 2006 9:49 PM   Subscribe

PBS says good night, Melanie, now security will escort you out. Melanie Martinez was the star of The Good Night Show, the marquee show on the PBS-Comcast preschool channel, Sprout. At least, she was until this week, when a parody PSA promoting "technical virginity" (video, NSFW) from her starving actress days resurfaced, thanks to a Memphis radio station. PBS fired her, saying that the "video is inappropriate for her role as a preschool program host," even though it pre-dated her Sprout work by many years. A new meaning for the word dooced?
posted by dw (95 comments total)

 
I'm losing my FPP virginity here. Please be gentle. I figured I had to explain a lot because most of you don't have toddlers that like Sprout. Melanie made me want to hurl from the Prozac-and-benzadrine-ness of her show.
posted by dw at 9:52 PM on July 21, 2006


Excellent!, I just had a roomful of people burst out in applause, drunken song&dance!...lol
posted by Unregistered User at 10:02 PM on July 21, 2006


Interesting. I see both sides of it, but I'm sure most will condemn PBS for the move.

What I find interesting in general around this issue is how, presumably, in the very near future there will be lots of (mostly women) actors who have "embarassing" content appear online due to poor choice in their youth. The sheer volume of "teen" porn made these days pretty much means that many young women's pasts will be "outed" should they make any significant gains in entertainment, politics, sport, whatever. I used to think it would cut-and-dried mean the end of a career, but then there's the case of Paris Hilton, so what the fuck do I know.

Extrapolating further I find it interesting to try and mentally put myself in the place a young person considering porn (and I know, what Melanie did is not porn by any stretch) goes thru. I didn't have that choice when I was young, though I understand the "in the now, fuck the future, I'm optimistic and bullet-proof and why is everybody so uptight" attitude that comes with youth, and I imagine it (and the $) is what makes what once would have seemed like a Never option a viable one.
posted by dobbs at 10:05 PM on July 21, 2006


That video was pretty funny, but frankly they pretty much had to let her go. How long would it have been before the Harper Valley PTA types climbed aboard their high horses to protest this "shocking disgrace?"
posted by caddis at 10:14 PM on July 21, 2006


Sorry to hear that she got undeservedly shitcanned.
posted by Charlie Bucket at 10:16 PM on July 21, 2006


I don't think PBS is thinking that this would have had any effect on the kids; they just knew that a lot of parents were going to completely flip out over it. You know it's true -- we went through some a massive and insane national trauma over one sad, not-really-bare boobie after all. PBS didn't want to be in the position of having to reason with them, fail, and be the subject of a church-based boycott and questions by drawling asshats in congress. Big ups to Melanie for taking it to them herself.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:18 PM on July 21, 2006


Aww, I liked her.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 10:20 PM on July 21, 2006


Maybe the PBS people would have figured this out sooner if they had read Metafilter in 2001. (Membership has its benefits.)
posted by Saucy Intruder at 10:24 PM on July 21, 2006


My daughter and I watched PBS Kids Sprout a few times before bed. I liked the format -- the shows were about 13 minutes long each. And Melanie was amusing. =)

This sucks. PBS had no choice at all on this one, though. The vocal minority would have had plenty to get vocal about.
posted by andreaazure at 10:31 PM on July 21, 2006


You know, I really like Dooce's blog, yadda yadda yadda.. But anybody who uses the word "dooced" without a heavy dose of irony/sarcasm/what-have-you needs a beating.
posted by keswick at 10:40 PM on July 21, 2006


Just wondering: If giving into the vocal minority is perfectly acceptable in this case, when will it not be? When does not giving in become important or consequential? When the show is of an extremely high caliber, or when it involves a strictly adult audience? I don't see why they "didn't have a choice" here, regardless. They clearly had a choice, and chose not court any sort of controversy.
posted by raysmj at 10:45 PM on July 21, 2006


I wouldn't mind having anal sex with her. Is that the problem?
The kind of people they have at PBS, I mean...
"PBS Kids Sprout, a joint venture of Comcast, HIT Entertainment..."

Ah, there it is.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:47 PM on July 21, 2006


Err, is there any reason to believe that it was PBS who fired her? Seems more like a private company thing to do to me (aka Comcast).

It is astonishing how people think there is anything reasonable about this at all. dobbs dances around the point, but Yoko said it the way it is, "Woman is the nigger of the world." In the past, I have misattributed it to John (sort of), how is that for proof!
posted by Chuckles at 10:57 PM on July 21, 2006


keswick - I don't follow. I thought the slang "dooced" was perfectly appropriate to describe someone who'd been fired because of their blog. What's wrong with it?
posted by jonson at 11:03 PM on July 21, 2006


it's just so deliberate and precious and in-joke-y and a-list-y and all around annoying.
posted by keswick at 11:07 PM on July 21, 2006


I don't see why they "didn't have a choice" here,

Follow the money:

Parents catch video or just hear about video.

Parents stop letting kids watch show... oh wait a minute, they fired her.

Otherwise show goes bust - no show anymore.

This really is unfortunate. Who among us hasn't done equally thoughtless, stupid, or far worse things at that age. Personally, I'm very happy no one was following me around with a camera and mic..

it's just so deliberate and precious and in-joke-y and a-list-y and all around annoying.


The 'dooced' or the video?
posted by scheptech at 11:11 PM on July 21, 2006


lol! technical virgin was featured on blort back in the early days.
posted by quonsar at 11:22 PM on July 21, 2006


Nobody bothers PBS and Disney cartoon voice Gilbert Gottfried for his questionable Howard Stern appearance material. Are women held to a different standard?
posted by jfrancis at 11:24 PM on July 21, 2006


it's just so deliberate and precious and in-joke-y and a-list-y and all around annoying.

It's also entered the vernacular.

I don't think it's the appropriate word here, though. This wasn't a blog but a clip streamed to the world on Google Video. That's an idea in need of a word. This is certainly the highest profile case (so far) of someone getting canned for something on YouTube/Google Video.

You used to be able to run from your past. Now, your past lives on the internet.
posted by dw at 11:29 PM on July 21, 2006


Crap, I forgot: (via)
posted by dw at 11:32 PM on July 21, 2006


I have no idea why people are so screwed up in this country. She's an actress. She plays roles. It was satire.

I think what it comes down to is the satire in question was mocking the very conservative establishment that would be objecting to it on a very deep level.

It's a shame. She was a good host.

And yes, they do hold women to a different standard. Look at what it takes to get a guy booted (pee wee herman?) compared to a woman.
posted by narcolepticdoc at 11:33 PM on July 21, 2006


Who among us hasn't done equally thoughtless, stupid

There was nothing thoughtless or stupid about it. It was political satire!

I can't believe I'm posting this, maybe it will come back and get me one day..
Headline: Melanie Martinez still technically a virgin after being fucked in the ass by PBS-Comcast!
posted by Chuckles at 11:38 PM on July 21, 2006


Nobody bothers PBS and Disney cartoon voice Gilbert Gottfried for his questionable Howard Stern appearance material. Are women held to a different standard?

I haven't seen Sprout but assumed she appeared in the flesh. Are you suggesting she merely lends a voice? If that's the situation, I don't think PBS has a "case". However, if she appears physically, then I hardly see it as a man vs woman thing. Pee Wee Herman's scandal got his show shitcanned too, for the same logic.
posted by dobbs at 11:40 PM on July 21, 2006


Nobody bothers PBS and Disney cartoon voice Gilbert Gottfried for his questionable Howard Stern appearance material.

Don't forget his brilliant showing on The Aristocrats.

I remember that technical virgins site from back in the day, although I'm not sure I remember that video. Sucks to be her, I guess.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:41 PM on July 21, 2006


narcolepticdoc, what do you mean "what it takes to get a guy booted"? Can you cite an example of a host on a kid's show who physically appears who's also been in a video with sexual language?

I'd posit that if PWH did a video as tame as the one in question, he woulda been fired, too.
posted by dobbs at 11:44 PM on July 21, 2006


I figured I had to explain a lot

I like your thoroughness; your links were all relevant. If you hadn't said anything, I'd never have known it was a first post.

(Plus, you preempted the "What is a Melanie Martinez, and why should I care about this?" comments.)
posted by concrete at 11:49 PM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


It makes me wonder about the legal side of things - what was in her contract. Do media types (well, in certain positions such as kids hosts etc) have to attest to a squeaky clean background? Presumably there are behavioural clauses in an ongoing sense but what sort of disclosure must be made about their history at the time of signing?

I hope they pay out her contract and some. I think she would have grounds for some not insubstantial damages, depending on the nature of the contract. Is it libellous for PBS to elevate (by implication from their decision) obviously satirical segments to being immoral/risk against children etc?

Anyone know much about this side of things? What are the normal contractual requirements?
posted by peacay at 12:05 AM on July 22, 2006


I'd guess they don't base anything contractual on arguable concepts like morality but rather on saleability, i.e. popularity with the target audience. In other words if your numbers aren't positive you're outta here. This would avoid arguing a million different issues that might come up and would be more to the point anyway?
posted by scheptech at 12:17 AM on July 22, 2006


Wait, Wyclef Jean (I'm in love with a stripper yo) can be on Sesame Street, George Carlin (Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television) can be Mr Conductor on Shinning Times Station, and Mr. Rogers can go onto SNL after Eddie Murphy did his Mr Robbinsons Neighborhood skit and tell him he liked the skit. But this girl can't be in a small time 30 second spoof PSA? Nope no double standards there.
posted by MrBobaFett at 12:35 AM on July 22, 2006


Did she write the material? Surely it was just a gig? Very unfair and typically American. She should come over and host C4's Wankathon
posted by A189Nut at 2:43 AM on July 22, 2006


And to think, Richard Pryor once had his own children's show.
posted by milquetoast at 3:03 AM on July 22, 2006


andreaazure writes "The vocal minority would have had plenty to get vocal about."

I guess that being vociferous is a lot more important then being a minorty...actually I am a minority of order one like anybody else, yet that doesn't seem to matter much if I don't scream SEX on top my lungs.

If my memory isn't failing me, it was recently discovered that some complains to the FCC by "outraged listeners" (measured in thousands) were just copy-n-paste (suggesting the presence of agitators) and there was some error in reporting the "obscene" scene, suggesting the complainers never watched the show to begin with.
posted by elpapacito at 3:21 AM on July 22, 2006


I'm trying to figure out why they fired her.
a) there is a follow-on video where she has anal sex that is about to be uploaded onto Google;
b) they disagree with her definition of technical virginity;
c) they themselves are asswipes covered in santorum and are punishing a professional actor for having done prior work.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for (a).
posted by alms at 3:46 AM on July 22, 2006


elpapacito, something like this:

For example, the agency on Oct. 12, in proposing fines of nearly $1.2 million against Fox Broadcasting and its affiliates, said it received 159 complaints against Married by America, which featured strippers partly obscured by pixilation. But when asked, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau said it could find only 90 complaints from 23 individuals... And Fox, in a filing last Friday, told the FCC that it should rescind the proposed fines, in part because the low number of complaints fell far short of indicating that community standards had been violated. "All but four of the complaints were identicalÂ…and only one complainant professed even to have watched the program," Fox said.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:08 AM on July 22, 2006


How exactly would parents or their preschool-age kids found out about this video from years ago? And PBS honestly thinks the audience for that kids' show would have cared?
posted by emelenjr at 5:36 AM on July 22, 2006


Fuck you, PBS.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:38 AM on July 22, 2006


I'd posit that if PWH did a video as tame as the one in question, he woulda been fired, too.

The Pee Wee Herman Live show that directly lead to him getting Pee Wee's Playhouse has jokes about masturbation and looking up girls' skirts. This was pre-internet of course, though my friend with HBO told all of us ten year olds about the "dirty" parts.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:38 AM on July 22, 2006


Also: Pryor's Place.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:43 AM on July 22, 2006


Oh, Milquetoast beat me to it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:50 AM on July 22, 2006


I think being a woman, and belittling the virginity movement, are probably the two major ingredients. If it had been a male teenager joking about boobies, no one would give a crap.
posted by Deathalicious at 5:52 AM on July 22, 2006


Aw, crap, we love Melanie! If I have to watch Sagwa (or god forbid that creepy Jay Jay the Jet Plane), I need a little Melanie to take the edge off. Where do I send my letter of protest?
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:53 AM on July 22, 2006


Shame on PBS. Unless she was getting the two roles confused and talking about technical virginity on the Goodnight Show, I don't see what the problem is. Preschoolers aren't going to Google her and burst into horrified giggles to see her previous work. Their parents might, but as long as she is doing her current job properly, why is it important that her previous acting roles must reflect well on her current acting role? Using that logic, an actor who played a bad guy once can never, ever play a good guy again.

I'm with emelenjr. How the heck would a parent have even made the connection? I can't picture a huge number of parents saying "Gee, that host looks a girl from an Internet video about techincal virginity I watched five years ago. I'm going to Google her and see if it's the same woman." Sure, some might, but chances are, if they are going to that effort, the end result is to have a quick snicker and something to tell the other internet-savvy parents in their social circles.
posted by melissa at 6:11 AM on July 22, 2006


Hopefully Bush will be barred from kiddie shows about Teh Preznit because he said a DIRTY WORD.
posted by moonbird at 6:41 AM on July 22, 2006


bullshit. pure and simple.
The funniest part is that they could've tackled this in an informative way (avoiding Sprout's target audience, however). She got shitcanned because she's mocking the Administration's policy, and they're sick of getting made fun of by people living in a reality-based community.
posted by Busithoth at 7:08 AM on July 22, 2006


PBS thinks people are idiots. Unfortunately, that's largely true.
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2006


To those of you in the legal profession: Is this legal? I mean, if she wanted to go the lawsuit route, would she have a case? Firing a woman for something sexual in her past sounds to me like textbook discrimination. Is there really a legal basis for firing her, or is PBS just counting on her unwillingness to defend in court her right to have once "advocated" anal sex?
posted by Crushinator at 7:16 AM on July 22, 2006


They could instead have transferred her to, say, the White House press corps.
posted by hank at 7:27 AM on July 22, 2006


In case it wasn't obvious, I don't agree with PBS's decision. However, I do understand it and see both sides, and certainly wouldn't want to have been in the exec's shoes.

Those making it a "woman" issue--I think you're dead wrong and the analogies you're drawing are weak and disingenious:

The male equivelant of enthusiastically talking about taking it up the ass is not "talking about boobies". Are you honestly saying that you don't think a male host who made a now-discovered video advocating fucking his girlfriend up the ass so she's technically still a virgin wouldn't have resulted in the same firing? I think that's absurd at best and naive at worst.
posted by dobbs at 7:58 AM on July 22, 2006


Fuck You PBS.

my kids watch sprout all the time. who gives a shit what melanie did/didnt do before? is it really going to matter to my kids if they watch that clip and they notice its melanie vs. anyone else?

bitches, you just lost a spot on my year-end charitable contributions list. PBS used to be a tad progressive; now its just the same as any other stupid red-state pandering for-profit TV station.
posted by joeblough at 8:00 AM on July 22, 2006


I have reason to believe it was primarily a Comcast decision rather than a PBS one, if that helps ease the burden for anyone of having our mighty PBS fall.
posted by catesbie at 8:16 AM on July 22, 2006


Another double standard: Steve from Blue's Clues played a high-school murderer on Homicide, apparently with Nickelodeon's blessing.

Oh wait. Sex > Violence. How could I forget?
posted by bibliowench at 8:18 AM on July 22, 2006


PBS thinks people are idiots.
posted by pracowity at 7:11 AM PST


VS the quality programming on FOX like 'when animals attack'
posted by rough ashlar at 8:19 AM on July 22, 2006


How was this a "poor choice" on her part, again? It wasn't illegal. It was a paying gig.

And, sadly, I agree with joeblough - PBS is off my donation list, as well. At least, until after the Bush administration is removed from office.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:27 AM on July 22, 2006


America, land of the technically free.
posted by lastobelus at 8:28 AM on July 22, 2006 [5 favorites]


The Gilbert Gottfried analogy does take away a bit from the corporate argument. One might say that it puts the BS in PBS.

As for how a parent could find these things? Um, hi. Meet me, internet savvy mom to a three year old. I don't have cable so I've only seen Sprout a few times. I saw the Technical Virgin bits when they came out. Not too difficult to put it together.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:29 AM on July 22, 2006


The male equivelant of enthusiastically talking about taking it up the ass is not "talking about boobies". Are you honestly saying that you don't think a male host who made a now-discovered video advocating fucking his girlfriend up the ass so she's technically still a virgin wouldn't have resulted in the same firing? I think that's absurd at best and naive at worst.

I think it's absurd that anyone would give a rat's rectum about it, no matter what sex is involved. The fact that someone thinks a video, made years ago advocating anal sex, jeopardizes that person's current job performance, is absurd.

The fact that sex is taboo, yet we're gleefully pasting violence everywhere in media, is absurd. The fact that talking about it, even years ago, could get you fired now is absurd.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:32 AM on July 22, 2006


PST: The Pee-Wee live show that came on HBO way back when was very much for an adult audience.
posted by absalom at 8:39 AM on July 22, 2006


narcolepticdoc, what do you mean "what it takes to get a guy booted"? Can you cite an example of a host on a kid's show who physically appears who's also been in a video with sexual language?

Y'all are also forgetting almost the entire cast of the Electric Company. Bill Cosby had already been in the wife-swaaping comedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (onscreen for about as long). Rita Moreno had just been in Carnal Knowledge. Gene Wilder had just been in Everything You Need to Know About Sex, playing a man who has a sexual relationship with a sheep. And do I really need to discuss Mel Brooks preceding body of work.

Pee Wee Herman is a good one too. After all when Pee Wee's Playhouse was on, it was quite easy to rent Cheech & Chong's Next Movie and Up In Smoke, which feature the actor either as Pee Wee or in a Pee Wee-styled character, in one case as a lunatic coke snorter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:49 AM on July 22, 2006


The Pee-Wee live show that came on HBO way back when was very much for an adult audience.

Frankly, so was his Saturday morning show.
posted by caddis at 9:19 AM on July 22, 2006


PBS is off my donation list, as well. At least, until after the Bush administration is removed from office.

Don't cut 'em off at the legs when they need your support the most, man.
It's a sad case, yet I also see where they made a painful decision to avoid a shitstorm raining down on PBS overall. AS biased and crappy a decision as it is, I don't think it's integral to PBS, by and large. You, yourself, point out the external forces at work.
Punishing them for that decision seems...shortsighted.
posted by Asim at 9:23 AM on July 22, 2006


frecklefaerie : "I saw the Technical Virgin bits when they came out. Not too difficult to put it together."

You recognized her, then? Because I saw the TV clips when they came out too, but my memory for faces has yet to extend online.
posted by graventy at 9:42 AM on July 22, 2006


"PBS KIDS Sprout has determined that the dialogue in this video is inappropriate for her role as a preschool program host and may undermine her character’s credibility with our audience."

It improved her credibility with this audience member. However, the last bit of credibility Comcast had has vanished.

I guarentee you if she had played a part in a video as "The Intern who Took Down the Evil Democratic President" Comcast would have stood by her.

This is a matter of some actress caught in a liberal vs. conservatives war of words.

And weighing in on "dooced"...doesn't work here. This is video/photos from years ago popping up to damage a current job. She got Williams'd (NSFW) (NSFC)
posted by ?! at 10:00 AM on July 22, 2006


Ah, protecting America's children from the big bad S-E-X....

SCENE

A living room, somewhere in suburban America

A CHILD sits with her FATHER watching her favourite PBS show

The CHILD looks at the TV, puzzled and then looks at her FATHER


Child: Daddy, what happened to Melanie? She's gone! I like Melanie. Where did she go, daddy?

Father: Well, honey, you see, um, it's like this...
posted by persona non grata at 10:21 AM on July 22, 2006


That's lame. I hope she gets a new job, and that those responsible for fireing her catch some kind of embarassing but non fatal disease.
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on July 22, 2006


How do parents who disapprove of this decision protest? Can we write angry letters to the FCC?
posted by eustacescrubb at 10:56 AM on July 22, 2006


Jeez, some people just can't take a joke.

What really pisses me off is that this commercial was something like 30 seconds long. That's it. So remember, kids, better be a good and proper Christian for your entire life, because you never know how the future cadre of over-zealous, sanctimonious right-wing Moms will percieve your youthful indescretions. Like we needed another reason to be a paranoid nation.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:00 AM on July 22, 2006


Whomever hired her probably did so because of this tape, but then let her go when he or she realized it was satire.
posted by hoborg at 11:15 AM on July 22, 2006


PBS used to be a tad progressive; now its just the same as any other stupid red-state pandering for-profit TV station.
posted by joeblough at 8:00 AM PST on July 22


Funny, I seem to remember this administration setting out to accomplish this very thing - what, one, two years ago?

America, land of the technically free.
posted by lastobelus at 8:28 AM PST on July 22


Well-said. These people claiming to see "both sides" of the issue are giving credit where none is due. If the examples of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, etc., don't prove that an actor can both work on a children's show and be a potty-mouth elsewhere, what does?
posted by Marla Singer at 11:24 AM on July 22, 2006


I was looking forward to her being fired, but because she was so patently awful. Not for this. This is stupid and sexist.
posted by jrossi4r at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2006


A standard clause in a contract stipulates that you can be fired if you do anything to bring the organization into disrepute. The org. usually gets to decide what is meant by that.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:56 AM on July 22, 2006


This is complete and utter nonsense.

And this is what real political correctness has brought our country to. In this case, being politically correct means that you are religiously correct so that you can keep your job, and that's getting pretty scary in my book.

Add to the sadness of this situation the fact that Ms. Martinez was in two parody sketches where no anatomically correct devices make any sort of appearance! Does this mean that if she'd done these on Comedy Central or Saturday Night Live that she wouldn't have been able to get a job with PBS?

The even sadder part about this whole affair is how that the parody isn't really a joke in a sense. Recent surveys show that teen pregnancies are declining because of increased oral and anal sex by teens.

<sarcasm on>But at least the children are under no threat from her, and at least PBS doesn't have to take a public whipping for taking a stand and keeping her on the show.</sarcasm>

But how come I feel as though PBS just got the modern-day equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, but with all the funny humor taken out and replaced by real, live, drooling menaces who want to shackle our bodies and take us back to an earlier time when the Church and church leaders heavily regulated our daily lives whether we believed in what they were selling or not?
posted by Nacho Libre at 12:17 PM on July 22, 2006


Well I'm not offended, but I'm not the kind of person who would worry about their kids enjoying Anal sex when they reach an appropriate age. I would certainly hope they wouldn't use it as a birth-control method, however!

I also thought the technical virgin bit was hilarious.

---

But for a comparison, imagine if she had made some horrible carlos-mencia type racist "comedy" bit. Would you demand she get fired or not? Remember, for a lot of people buttsex is more offensive then racism.
posted by delmoi at 12:36 PM on July 22, 2006


She should've skipped acting and gone the alcohol-and-coke-abuse route. I understand you can get elected president that way.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:40 PM on July 22, 2006


I find it a bit scary that a) people have this air of resignation about the whole thing (duh, gee, that's what happens when you produce political satire that involves the words 'anal sex'), and b) people are writing this off as "she was a starving actress" or "she was just playing a role."

What if she genuinely believed in the video's message? What if she just though it was funny? What if she really didn't like the message and it was "just a gig"? Why does any of that matter? The point is she got fired for something she did several years ago that essentially has no bearing on her current ability to do her job, very likely in anticipation of wingnut anti-sex parents who may not, in fact, have ever noticed any of this had PBS not brought it up in the first place.

And say the wingnut anti-sex parent groups did happen to notice and call a boycott to the show. If we can't rely on fuckin' PBS to be able to take a stand against a vocal minority, then who exactly do you expect it from? Saying PBS had no choice is inaccurate; what you should really saying is PBS is a coward.
posted by chrominance at 12:59 PM on July 22, 2006


Last week on "Rockstar:Supernova" Tommy Lee told one of the female contestants that he would like to see more of her (insinuating that she was wearing too much clothing) and she replied "Six letters, Tommy: Google."

I don't think we're too far from a point when you'll be able to find video or photos of some less-than-Sunday-School wholesome type of everyone under 35, especially people in entertainment. And that's the way it goes. This isn't the 50s.

As a parent, I could care less what an actor performing in children's entertainment has done in his/her past for adult audiences so long as what they do for children is age-appropriate and they aren't plastered all over the front page of my newspaper or CNN (which my kids might see in passing) for murdering their entire family in some kind of weird sex ritual gone awry.

No kid of the Sprout age could ever find Melanie's technical virginity video without significant assistance. This cannot taint little minds. This video significantly predated Melanie's work on Sprout, and it had no affect on her capabiity or her integrity with her audience, who don't even know what integrity means. And no parent in their right mind was ever going to turn off the TV, had Melanie kept her job, in fear that she was going to start telling their toddlers about anal sex.

A good performer just lost her job (and an audience is about to be pissed off, because kids do care, my kids still think of the "new" guy on Blue's Clues as an imposter) because of a wholly manufactured controversy. While that's disturbing in and of itself, what's more distressing is that the pitiful, unthinking, kneejerk-reacting, loudmouthed microminority that would, illogically, be upset about Melanie keeping her job (or Frenchie Davis staying on American Idol or Janet Jackson ever appearing on live primetime TV again) is now setting the national tone. Every corporate entertainment interest is keeping the chattermongers in mind with every decision that is made, and even when the decision makes no sense, the false and falsely intensified notion of propriety that has come from their chattering is driving it.

I'll be drafting my letter of complaint over this firing today, and encouraging my friends with Sprout-watching kids to do likewise. Those of us who can wrap our brains around the cupidity of what's happened here must make our voices heard over the dim hum of the professionally offended.
posted by Dreama at 1:03 PM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


If the examples of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, etc., don't prove that an actor can both work on a children's show and be a potty-mouth elsewhere, what does?

I'm not buying the comparison. Performers personas are products and this is apples and oranges.

With old George we knew what his comedic schtick was before he got on the kids program and doubtless they had a chance to focus group the guy wherein he was found okey dokey anyway. Apparently we know he's an old scoundrel and love him for it so no surprises.

Ms Martinez just has to reinvent herself. She can probably parlay the attention this brings into a talk show appearance or two, get a small part in a movie, who knows.
posted by scheptech at 2:39 PM on July 22, 2006


What is disturbing is that she is an actress, playing a role. So one of those roles was an adults only joke, and another role is aimed at kids. How is this any different than any other actress? That NSFW clip isn't her stating her beliefs, that is her, as an actress, playing a part.

So, when Alice Cooper was on the Muppets, that was okay - but this....isn't?
posted by sperare at 2:45 PM on July 22, 2006


And as far as PWH losing his CBS kids show, I've personally always thought he set the damn thing up -- so he could go back to doing subversive *adult* comedy *cast* as a kids show, instead of the much less enjoyable gig of *actually doing a kids' show*.
posted by baylink at 3:03 PM on July 22, 2006


Baylink, given the extreme depression Reubens was suffering around the time of his arrest (per his telling in various interviews since) I wouldn't be at all surprised if it wasn't an act of self-sabotage that perhaps went further than he expected.
posted by Dreama at 3:05 PM on July 22, 2006


Perhaps, Dreama. Or maybe he's just crazy like a fox.

Frecklefaerie: so, as such a parent who found this, did you have the slightest notion at all that it made Melanie unsuitable as a TV host for your 3 year old?
posted by baylink at 3:14 PM on July 22, 2006


I'm a parent of a 3-year old, and I don't think a 14 year old video makes Melanie unfit to act in children's programming. What's more, it more or less nails the coffin closed for PBS for me. PBS used ot provde quality, engaging, unusual television, and now it seems to just provide poor quality versions of cable crap.

(And Jay Jay the Jet Plane is sooo creepy.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:45 PM on July 22, 2006


I just don't think it's fair to punish somebody today for something they did in their youthful years of indiscretion ten or twenty years ago.

This has happened a few times, and it's unjustifiable.

If anything, the women who used to be porn stars or strippers who go on to become something more "respectable" should be congratulated, not punished.
posted by rougy at 5:55 PM on July 22, 2006


Wait a minute...you mean they fired her for a two-minute video that could have easily been on Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show or The Colbert Report.

Fie! Fie on the puritan plebes at PBS.
posted by rougy at 6:04 PM on July 22, 2006


Maybe the radio station that dug up that old ass clip will give her a job.

Or she'll sue the radio station. Which do y'all think is more likely to happen?
posted by drstein at 9:37 PM on July 22, 2006


Boy, I hope they replace her with Bill Bennet! My kid will learn virtue and blackjack.

(I'll miss her, but not as much as my kid will. I really don't see anything wrong with the short.)
posted by maryh at 9:50 PM on July 22, 2006


I *KNEW* she looked familiar from something, but could never put it together.

We watch Good Night Show every night. And she really isn't very good. She also has some sort of eye thing... like one eye is bigger than the other or something... kinda creeps me out. But she wasn't fired over the quality of her work or her appearance, was she?

And I have to admit, Daddy enjoyed the segment on the show the other night where she was demonstrating "yoga for kids" positions.

I don't want to over-dramatize this, but I swear to God I think this is how the decent into bizarro world begins. Actually I think it started with the Janet Jackson nipple.

At first I really thought everyone was joking. I thought we were, you know, past that in this society. Then I started to realize about 3 days after "Areola Sunday" that people were not joking, and were, in fact, outraged over 1 second of airtime at a football game. Outraged! I heard someone spout off about how we had hit a point of no return with filth and indecency in America, and I kind of cocked my head to the side the way a dog does when you talk to them.

This is, truly, so discouraging I legitimately don't know what to even say.

Can you imagine a similar situation for your job?

"Bob, we're going to have to let you go. You see, we found a videotape from back in your college days, you attended a certain frat party and after funneling a massive amount of Milwaukee's Best, you are clearly heard on the tape going "Woooo!" and then grabbing your crotch and saying "I got your Longhorn right here baby!", and that kind of past behavior is something MegaCorp, Inc simply cannot tolerate. In the past. For God's sake Bob, some of our clients could have been at that kegger!"
posted by Ynoxas at 10:21 PM on July 22, 2006


My brother-in-law is actually the CEO of MegaCorp, Inc. I shit you not.
posted by filchyboy at 1:00 AM on July 23, 2006


Well, you know how those preschooler kids are always dragnetting the web, looking for porn videoclips of the hosts of their preschool shows... no wonder PBS had to get rid of her. There'd have been a pre-schooler boycott of the show if they hadn't!
posted by five fresh fish at 1:13 PM on July 23, 2006


I'm still pissed at KCRW for firing Sandra Tsing Loh
posted by jfrancis at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2006


Also as far as the Pee-Wee thing goes - he didn't just work blue, he was charged with a crime.
posted by jfrancis at 4:26 PM on July 23, 2006


Fuck PBS for making my neice sad!
posted by Megafly at 4:57 PM on July 24, 2006


clarification @jfrancis: yeah, I know that. My assertion was that he could well have been depressed *because* the network put golden handcuffs on him and turned him from a reasonably funny adult comedian who *pretended* to run a kids show...

into someone who *actually* ran a kids show.

I call that a comedown, myself, and I could well seem him deciding that blowing the morals clause in his contract was a perfectly acceptable way out, and wouldn't negatively affect in the long run the career he *really* wanted.

From the viewpoint of his standup audience, it's a chickenshit conviction; it's not like he was molesting his audience.
posted by baylink at 8:18 PM on July 24, 2006


Four days after I post this and five days after Anita's initial post, let's see... we have BoingBoing, CNet, MSNBC, and some snark in the Philly Daily News. It took the mainstream media and blogs five days to discover this story.

And oh, there's a petition if you actually still sign such things.
posted by dw at 5:09 PM on July 25, 2006


The New York Times provides an update on the furor surrounding Martinez's firing.
posted by NYCinephile at 6:25 AM on August 5, 2006


...and, wirth regard to "dooced", the term has clearly entered the urban lexicon.
posted by NYCinephile at 6:31 AM on August 5, 2006


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