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September 14, 2006 2:28 AM   Subscribe

When worlds collide: King Mswati III of Swaziland chooses his thirteenth wife at the Umhlanga, a Zulu reed-dancing ceremony [NSFW, tame]. The BBC reports on the story, but then realise US networks they syndicate to might be fined due to FCC regulations on nudity. Richard Porter, editor of BBC World, explains more in his blog.
posted by randomination (20 comments total)

 
I thought that Cable was regulated differently than over the air transmissions, and didn't come under the FCC (hence the racier content on HBO, Showtime, etc).

Mind you, I'm a godless Brit, and I say - more nudity, whether gratuitous or not!
posted by dash_slot- at 2:49 AM on September 14, 2006


Ah.

I found the relevant guideline:
- Do the FCC's rules apply to cable and satellite programming? In the past, the FCC has enforced the indecency and profanity prohibitions only against conventional broadcast services, not against subscription programming services such as cable and satellite. However, the prohibition against obscene programming applies to subscription programming services at all times.

Which makes me ask - why? Why the distinction between 'conventional' & 'subscription', and the distinction between 'obscene' & 'indecent and profane'? If they have jurisdiction, why selectively impose sanctions?
posted by dash_slot- at 2:57 AM on September 14, 2006


Why the distinction between 'conventional' & 'subscription'

Because the broadcast airwaves have traditionally been thought of as common property of the people of the US but the cables are owned by the cable companies.
posted by octothorpe at 4:15 AM on September 14, 2006


Here's a link (NSFW) to photos from the Zulu Reed Dance I saw in July, at the South African National Arts Festival, Grahamstown. It was a wonderful production. The festival is the most fun I've found anywhere in South Africa.

American is simply rediculous about some things. So it's illegal to show things on TV that we've all seen in school, in National Geographic? WTF? Nudity != sexuality != obscenity. Get over it. We are not, and never were, a nation of Puritans--So quit pretending so.
posted by Goofyy at 4:34 AM on September 14, 2006


What sort of culture is it we live in, where female breasts (which, as you know, issue life-giving milk to infants) are seen as evil and dangerous?

Compared to this, the idiosyncracies of the Zulu kingdom seem insignificant.
posted by spazzm at 5:19 AM on September 14, 2006


A relatively simple bit of CGI applied in post-production would surely have allowed this to be played on US TV with impunity - turn them into fembots. See - bare breasts = bad, but guns = fine, hence, bare breasts that are actually guns = OK amirite?
posted by kcds at 6:03 AM on September 14, 2006


It's good to be king
posted by chillmost at 6:04 AM on September 14, 2006


More ridiculous than that, spazzm, milk producing mammary glands are what tie us humans, dogs, whales, cows, echidnas, rabbits, horses, kangaroos, platypuses and every other MAMMAL together -- it is the defining characteristic of our phylogenic class.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 6:23 AM on September 14, 2006


My brother was killed by a pair of breasts. They'll fuck you up, man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:05 AM on September 14, 2006


Goofyy, it sounds like you're making a logical argument, which doesn't go over well with the FCC.

kcds: How about missiles? (Fire one! Fire two!)
posted by Tuwa at 8:05 AM on September 14, 2006


My brother was killed by a pair of breasts. They'll fuck you up, man.

I saw that on YouTube. Sorry for your loss, but man, that was some great footage.
posted by COBRA! at 8:18 AM on September 14, 2006


Besides, as I was telling the ladyfriend the other day, what important discovery/invention/historical event/work of art didn't have as the root driving cause of it's existance a pair of breasts?
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 8:37 AM on September 14, 2006


When I was a child, we'd pour over National Geographics looking for pics of topless women.

I'm so glad we have progress in America. Now, children have to pour over copies of National Geographic....

Let's hope the BBC doesn't do a documentary on that tribe that wears the penis sheaths made out of gourds. That would really be controversial.
posted by QIbHom at 8:48 AM on September 14, 2006


I thought that Cable was regulated differently than over the air transmissions

It is. You can show hardcore pornography, complete with close-ups of vaginal and anal penetration and slo-mo shots of ejaculation, on cable/satellite.

Why the distinction between 'conventional' & 'subscription'

Conventional / over-the-air programming comes into your house if you have a tv; you can't (easily) stop it, at least not until rating codes and chips that could read them. This means that the only way to prevent your kids from watching smut on OTA tv is to actually supervise their tv watching, which is of course a silly idea.

Subscription tv only comes into your house if you specifically ask for it. So if you don't want your kids seeing naked people, don't get cable or satellite.

If they have jurisdiction, why selectively impose sanctions?

One obvious reason is that it would come to a trial that the government might well lose. It would also be hugely unpopular and piss off large and powerful interest groups.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:01 AM on September 14, 2006


Things get a bit weird when the Third and First worlds colide... the Third World here being represented by the middle of America.
posted by Artw at 9:08 AM on September 14, 2006


When I was a child, we'd pour over National Geographics looking for pics of topless women.

Crikey, that's wasn't just a Freudian slip, that was a Freudian camisole, nightie and fully-embroidered petticoat. Do you need a towel?
posted by randomination at 9:23 AM on September 14, 2006


s/ that's/ that

Remind me not to type with my elbows.
posted by randomination at 9:26 AM on September 14, 2006


I'm almost certain this explains why the most popular story on BBC this morning was ...



"A problem has occurred loading the BBC News Player"
posted by dhartung at 6:11 PM on September 14, 2006


News like this does absolutely nothing to improve the US's reputation in this world.

Why don't a shedload of you — hell, must be 20 000 of you here on MeFi — handwrite letters to the FCC telling them to pull their heads out of their arses? Start turning your country around. 'cause stories like this, they just make you look bad.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2006


randomination, that is actually an old fashioned USian tradition. Although, lacking the equipment to pour properly, me and my girlfriends were just being curious.

20 years ago, when I was doing volunteer work at the county jail, I saw guards going through NG page by page, making sure nothing too stimulating made it on to the cell block.

Yes, USians are nuts. Sometimes, I think someone took Tom Lehrer's "Smut" seriously, or something.
posted by QIbHom at 9:23 PM on September 14, 2006


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