Chilling Private Ryan
November 11, 2004 11:46 AM   Subscribe

The Chilling Effect. Some ABC affiliates have opted not to broadcast a scheduled airing of Saving Private Ryan, due to concerns over new FCC indecency regulations. They don't want to get fined. The FCC won't say in advance whether the film is indecent ("that would be censorship"). But don't worry, the Parents Televsion Council says the "context" makes it OK. Which is fine, but who utlimately gets to judge the context?
posted by jpoulos (75 comments total)
 
According to the PTC site:

"Fearing government fines for airing coarse language and graphic material, several ABC affiliates have decided not to show the network's movie Saving Private Ryan - the world War II story of heroism and valor - scheduled for Veterans Day. Instead they'll air an edited-for-TV version of the R-rated Eddie Murphy comedy "Coming to America." "

There's an implicit criticism theren, no? The uncut version of Private Ryan is OK, but an edited version of "Coming to America" isn't.

Personally, I don't have a problem with either film, but with the arbitrary nature of the decision on both sides. This is what happens when you limit expression--someone has to define the limits.
posted by jpoulos at 11:52 AM on November 11, 2004


About a decade ago, when NYPD Blu was in its first season, some ABC affiliates did the same thing. Was it done for nudity, violence or both?
posted by thomcatspike at 11:54 AM on November 11, 2004


who utlimately gets to judge the context?

That would be James Dobson and Pat Robertson

On Preview: thomcatspike:

language and Jimmy Smits buttshots I'd wager. Violence is A-OK with the censors
posted by Windopaene at 11:57 AM on November 11, 2004


The FCC won't say in advance whether the film is indecent

!? So, they won't tell you what their rules are, but they will fine you for breaking them. Unbelievable.
posted by deanc at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2004


The uncut version of Private Ryan is OK, but an edited version of "Coming to America" isn't.
Huh? You lost me here. What is wrong with TV showing an edited movie over an uncut version?
Seems they would have shown another war move instead, like The Longest Day. Maybe they don't support Bush.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:00 PM on November 11, 2004


thomcatspike: maybe I should have phrased it like this...

There's an implicit criticism there: that the uncut version of Private Ryan is OK, but an edited version of "Coming to America" isn't.

It's the PTC that's making the judgement, IMO, that unedited violence against teh krauts is less harmful than potty humor about black folks. (Why was Coming to America rated R, anyway?) Not me.
posted by jpoulos at 12:06 PM on November 11, 2004


Why was Coming to America rated R, anyway?

"The Royal Penis is clean, sir...."
posted by emptybowl at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2004


I do, with a heavy heart, have to give the FCC some credit. After hearing Michael Powell debate Howard Stern, I can't totally fault them.

Here's the problem. Televison and radio's major fault is the medium they're on. Up until very recently the only way to shift and move through this media was turning a dial or switching a channel up. We really have no choice but to go past hardcore porn to get to Sesame Street. Yes you could manually enter the numbers to skip the channels you didn't agree with, but any rational person would see that's no feasible. I'm not totally opposed to regulation in this sense. In fact except for the few with a libertarian bent, not many people would wish to have hardcore porn or violence presented to them easily. "Think of the children" aside, I don't want to turn on the TV and see two guys boning each other and another chick masturbating on the couch. I don't believe many people do, aside from those ready to make a smart ass comment.

As such, how do we draw the line, where do we draw the line? That's what the FCC is for. They took the very democrat approach of complaints only. Yes, there are a ton of far right groups ready to keep everything out of reach, but what better way is there? Would you rather the FCC make the guidelines or the people make the guidelines? Someone has to.

This is all becoming a very quick moot point. With digital cable and the advancement of electronics parents can block out shows they don't want, delete channels they don't want. Are you a fundamentalist and don't like "Family Bonds"? Good you have a choice not to see it now, where before you did not. Give 20 years down the line max, the FCC will be obsolete. Everyone will have the ability to block channels and content they don't like. That's great, ABC can run shows like this and if Joe Christianvalues doesn't like it, his TV will seamlessly change to ABC2, which will show "Bruce Almighty" instead.

I like Saving Private Ryan, I have it on DVD. I know people who are squeamish and can't watch it. I don't play it when they come over. I respect their choice and they respect mine. We make a compromise. Saying "turn off the TV" is not a compromise. If I turn on the TV and there's a guy with his leg off the damage is already done.
posted by geoff. at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2004


We really have no choice but to go past hardcore porn to get to Sesame Street.

First of all, I'm in the bluest of blue states and I have to specifically order by hardcore porn. It doesn't just show up between nickelodeon and pbs. Secondly, if I'm not mistaken, the FCC doesn't regulate cable tv, only broadcast channels.

And if it's "complaints only", can we organize our own PTC to fight just plain bad TV? To me, there's nothing more harmful on the airwaves than this show I heard about called "Big Losers" where the fat people compete to lose weight. I would seriously sooner let my 12 year old watch hardcore pornography than a show like that.
posted by jpoulos at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2004


(I hope my "first of all" didn't sound confrontational, geoff. I didn't intend it to be.)
posted by jpoulos at 12:22 PM on November 11, 2004


We really have no choice but to go past hardcore porn to get to Sesame Street.

Didn't you opted to buy all those 4839204832432 channels? I'm pretty sure you have to pay for porn.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:25 PM on November 11, 2004


Opt. Didn't you opt. Oy. Well, I'm in class as I type, sorry about that.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:26 PM on November 11, 2004


We really have no choice but to go past hardcore porn to get to Sesame Street. Yes you could manually enter the numbers to skip the channels you didn't agree with, but any rational person would see that's no feasible.

No, it's entirely feasible. You can:
  • use the v-chip to block inappropriate content;
  • use your television's programming functions to automatically skip undesirable channels;
  • have your cable or satellite company block certain channels from even coming into your home; or even
  • monitor yours and your child(ren)'s viewing habits.
It amazes me that the party that claims to champion personal responsibility over government hand-holding thinks it needs to decide for us whether an award-winning movie about World War II is acceptable programming or not.
posted by kjh at 12:29 PM on November 11, 2004


According to the AP, some stations will be running Return To Mayberry instead.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:32 PM on November 11, 2004


This is one of the most chilling stories I've read in a while. It falls in the same category as the refusal of the Bush Administration to attend funerals of war dead and attempts to suppress photographs of their coffins.

If a movie can be so offensive, how much more so is the real thing?

Apparently America can dish it out, but can't take it.
posted by 327.ca at 12:32 PM on November 11, 2004


We really have no choice but to go past hardcore porn to get to Sesame Street.

Just what cable system are you on, dude? I'm in a blue state, too, and i have a pretty decent cable package, but pornwise the only free offerings are on late-night Cinemax and it's fairly tame stuff at that (no closeups, no penetration, very little full frontal, no willies). The rest is all pay-per-view with parental controls available. Which is fine with me.

You must have a different conception of hard-core porn than most.

Return to Mayberry? Now, I'm offended. Let Don Knotts rest for god's sake.
posted by jonmc at 12:33 PM on November 11, 2004


Is this broadcast of Saving Private Ryan something I would have to be a member of the greatest generation to care about? Because I am not a member of said generation.
posted by soyjoy at 12:38 PM on November 11, 2004


kjh, you must have missed me. We can do that, and the technology is there -- not implemented in every TV, but almost there. That was my end bang, that the FCC will be outdated by technology.

My point with the porn and the Sesame Street was to illustrate the shortcomings of TV. It is not feasible to expect someone to type in "8" or "12", knowing they don't want to hit 9-11 because it's all Jenna, all the time. Thusly, by nature of the medium, you cannot have people avoid channels they don't want and you end up having to satisfy the most sensitive groups. So then, understanding that we cannot feasibly limit TV to those who are over 18, and not sensitive to anything, where do we draw the line? Apparently the best way now is to wait until someone steps over a line, and the FCC determines that based on number of complaints. If a significant minority objects, the FCC will appeal to them. That's how a government should operate if it is perfect, protecting the minority while compromising with the majority.

Now with technology advancing we can move beyond that and have people select TV to their liking. I know now I don't even watch live TV, I'm sure the rest of the country will be running on something similar within the next couple of decades.
posted by geoff. at 12:46 PM on November 11, 2004


I guess to better phrase my point, the FCC was at one time very relevant, now it is becoming anachronistic.
posted by geoff. at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2004


There's an implicit criticism there: that the uncut version of Private Ryan is OK, but an edited version of "Coming to America" isn't.
Coming to America -an uncut version is not ok to be shown.

Lupo, I understand your thinking now. First, iirc ABC aired Schindler's List (1993) uncut. As far as TV showing blood & guts - have you seen the CSI shows or ER?

Why show Private Ryan uncut? Because the first 15 minutes is a pivotal point in the movie, showing D-Day invasion. Those senes give you the sense how hard it will be saving Private Ryan life.
I bet they will edit out any foul language though.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:51 PM on November 11, 2004


Those scenes give you...
posted by thomcatspike at 12:52 PM on November 11, 2004


The PTC are a cult of decency fascists run by a wannabe puritanical tyrant who spends his days attempting to privately censor American television with misguided letter-writing campaigns aimed at advertisers, the kind that don't really reflect the views of more than a small puritan sect of America, but the kind that effect advertising because these fringe organizations are treated with legitimacy by the media. It's a pitiful gathering of uber-concered do-gooders expending energy in all the wrong places.
posted by The God Complex at 12:58 PM on November 11, 2004


geoff., your point is still garbage. There's no cable package in the world that even gives you softcore porn for free. Even late-night HBO and Cinemax costs extra.

Are you saying you get some awesome basic cable channels I don't? Damned red state.
posted by u.n. owen at 12:59 PM on November 11, 2004


There's no cable package in the world that even gives you softcore porn for free.

I <3 New York.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:02 PM on November 11, 2004


Add, my ABC news shows dead Iraqis nightly.

What time is this coming on TV. As a French man once said to me when I complained about the xxx 1-900 info-commercials on regular broadcasted TV(not really complaining, just caught off guard as I was watching the news and he happen to walk in right at the moment of commercial break); Who cares what comes on TV after 9pm, because who would let their children watch TV that late into the night, there are other things the children could be doing.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:02 PM on November 11, 2004


I like Saving Private Ryan, I have it on DVD. I know people who are squeamish and can't watch it. I don't play it when they come over. I respect their choice and they respect mine. We make a compromise. Saying "turn off the TV" is not a compromise. If I turn on the TV and there's a guy with his leg off the damage is already done.

Yes, all that damage. "Oh my god, violence!" Click. How harrowing, how heart rending, how unavoidable. Unless, of course, you actually check what's on t.v. instead of mindlessly plowing through the channels. And if that's the case, you might even find yourself staring at real dead people. Then again, your country's standards for this sort of thing are lame as hell; those in charge have big drawn-out debates over whether someone can say "shit" on prime time at 10PM, and when they can it becomes some huge controversy, replete with shrill it's-the-end-of-the-world cryfests.
posted by The God Complex at 1:04 PM on November 11, 2004


whether someone can say "shit" on prime time at 10PM
Prime time is before 10, and sure I've heard “shit” recently around that time. Our leaders are not choosing this. Maybe advertising companies that pay a person who privately owns a TV station that broadcasts ABC’s rights.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2004


You American friends really need to watch out. When a mere Portuguese guy - who less than 30 years ago lived in Europe's longest-lasting dictatorship and looked up to the U.S. as an example of how successful untramelled expression could be - starts fearing for your freedom, you just know that you must be doing something wrong - not you, but someone in your name.

It's creepy that Europe - always more repressive and straitlaced - has become the reference for enlightened Americans. How sad - but urgent! - that you actually need, right now, to go back to a time when you were freer, when you've so often set the pace for moving forward.

If true freedom becomes an elite thing - only available to those who know how to access it - it is doomed. Well, severely compromised. The climate of self-censorship - prefugured bt jpoulos's excellent post - is a sure sign. And the more unconscious it is, the more harmful.

This is an exaggeration but the fact that it's possible to exaggerate is telling enough, I think.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2004


You missed the controversy a few years ago. I can't remember the name of the show; it was the CBS E.R-type show (Chicago something? Something Chicago?) and they wanted to say "shit" at 10PM. They were eventually allowed and it was the first time it had ever happened and there was a huge uproar; in fact, I'm pretty sure the PTC decried the instance, but that's about all they do.

And your leaders are very much choosing this. Who do you think regulates the FCC? It's all government, baby.
posted by The God Complex at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2004


that you actually need, right now, to go back to a time when you were freer
Yes, but American TV has never been free, looking at the advertising side of it.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:26 PM on November 11, 2004


Jeez, I'm all for free speech, but Saving Private Ryan uncut? Are you nuts? That's one of the most violent films in my memory, one that I saw once and determined I didn't need to see it again.

I can't imagine what anyone under the age of 16 or so would think about the D-day invasion.

I won't see F9/11 again for the same reason -- I know war is hell, but I don't need to see dead Iraqi children again, thanks.
posted by mathowie at 1:27 PM on November 11, 2004


...the distance between this hard-core red culture and the majority blue culture is perhaps best captured by Tom Coburn, the newly elected Republican senator from Oklahoma, lately famous for discovering "rampant" lesbianism in that state's schools. As a congressman in 1997, Mr. Coburn attacked NBC for encouraging "irresponsible sexual behavior" and taking "network TV to an all-time low with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes." The broadcast that prompted his outrage on behalf of "parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere" was the network's prime-time showing of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List."

From a relevant article, "On Moral Values" by Frank Rich from NYT.
posted by semmi at 1:28 PM on November 11, 2004


geoff., your point is still garbage. There's no cable package in the world that even gives you softcore porn for free. Even late-night HBO and Cinemax costs extra.


It is you, that do not get the point. I am not talking about cable. Last time I checked ABC was not cable. Cable gives the consumer choice, you have to purchase cable. It is delivered over a private medium. Airwaves are not a private medium. I realize some FCC restrictions surround cable but I do not believe they include restrictions to programming content. If they do I believe this is wrong.

I guess I'm simply trying to say is, it is reasonable for everyone to agree that there should not be an "anything goes" mentality to free-over-the-air television. Is there a better solution to the FCC? Yes, technological advancements in microchips have made it possible. They are not quite there yet commercially so we will have to stick to the FCC for now.
posted by geoff. at 1:36 PM on November 11, 2004





Jeez, I'm all for free speech, but Saving Private Ryan uncut? Are you nuts? That's one of the most violent films in my memory, one that I saw once and determined I didn't need to see it again.


So run a disclaimer saying that it's violent. Not everyone has seen the film and not everyone is as squeamish as you are about that sort of thing. Sorry, but it's true. Why should a network be unable to run it at, say, 9PM with disclaimers?
posted by The God Complex at 1:39 PM on November 11, 2004


Censorship is indecent.

I can't imagine what anyone under the age of 16 or so would think about the D-day invasion.

So you're promoting ignorance? Should we only teach the young about wars with metaphor and uplifing myths? I think it's far better for them to watch a fictionalized war than to be made to fight in one (which millions that age have throughout history). In fact, watching it and getting a sense of its reality might well motivate them to avoid participating in the future.
posted by rushmc at 1:40 PM on November 11, 2004


Hmm... I'm afraid I'm just not able to articulate myself on this point, for that I apologize. I think everyone's been missing what I'm trying to say. Over-the-air television is intrinsically faulty. It does not allow the viewer to select what may be offensive to them. Television is so widely used, and the programming is so diverse, it is not feasible to say to people not to watch it. A person is basically forced to watch whatever is on the television. There is no preview, no "Saving Private Ryan, do you want to watch?" it is simply there. Really the only option is to edit it to make it palatable for the incidental viewing. I really can't believe I'm in a pro-FCC position.
posted by geoff. at 1:43 PM on November 11, 2004


And for what it's worth, I think people should be reminded of how ugly and disgusting war is more often, specifically by the media but also by art. People can say all they want that they "know war is hell", but a lot of people simply pay that sentiment lip service. I'm not saying that you are, but I don't see why you not wanting to see the movie again should stop others from seeing it or make the idea of them seeing it "nuts".
posted by The God Complex at 1:43 PM on November 11, 2004


Is there a better solution to the FCC?

Certainly. The FCC should never have gotten into questions of decency and obscenity. If what they are regulating in this case is truly the "airwaves" and not cable, then those questions are best left up to communities themselves, not man-dated nationwide.
posted by modofo at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2004


Hmm... I'm afraid I'm just not able to articulate myself on this point, for that I apologize. I think everyone's been missing what I'm trying to say. Over-the-air television is intrinsically faulty. It does not allow the viewer to select what may be offensive to them. Television is so widely used, and the programming is so diverse, it is not feasible to say to people not to watch it. A person is basically forced to watch whatever is on the television. There is no preview, no "Saving Private Ryan, do you want to watch?" it is simply there. Really the only option is to edit it to make it palatable for the incidental viewing. I really can't believe I'm in a pro-FCC position.

check the listings then. they have ratings and descriptions of the films. people don't have 'no choice' to watch television: what a uniquely american viewpoint. and, as i said, if you just mindlessly plow through the channels, you might find actual dead people, and how terrifying would that be for joe america? it might even be something else your government tries to censor...

So you're promoting ignorance? Should we only teach the young about wars with metaphor and uplifing myths? I think it's far better for them to watch a fictionalized war than to be made to fight in one (which millions that age have throughout history). In fact, watching it and getting a sense of its reality might well motivate them to avoid participating in the future.

amen, brotha. especially at sixteen, when with a little direction from their parents they could really start to get the war, not just think "wow, how cool is that?!". personally, i'd recommend people watch a thin red line before saving private ryan, but that's somewhat beside the point.
posted by The God Complex at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2004


"nuts"
In December, 1944, due to the absence of General Maxwell D. Taylor, he was acting Commander of the 101st Airborne Division and other attached troops during the siege of Bastogne, Belgium. When they became surrounded and the Germans demanded their surrender, he sent back a one-word reply "NUTS." This is probably the most famous quote of World War II.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:52 PM on November 11, 2004


Isn't the first 30 mins of Saving Private Ryan the only reason that movie exists? I mean, other than that it's a piece of shit. No?
posted by mr.marx at 1:54 PM on November 11, 2004


Random question here: what happens if a major network simply tells the FCC (no clever joke intended) to go fuck itself?

I lived in New York City in 2000, when Time Warner Cable shut off ABC during a contract dispute with Disney over what channels to carry. AOL/TW scrolled "Disney has taken ABC away from you" for about 48 hours, while Disney and ABC fired back with lawsuits and public protest. (this was during the time when ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was the most popular show on TV)

In the long run, AOL/TW ended up being crucified in the court of public opinion for blocking access to ABC. It seems to me that with fines and Lieberman-like legislation, it's still up to the networks to comply.

I legitimately wonder if CBS or NBC just decides one morning, "you know what, these are public airwaves, we can broadcast what we want" what would actually happen. Does any Congressman/Senator want to have "voted to remove your favorite programs off the air" used against them in the next election? Do these guys really want to get on the bad side of the networks that own 24-hour "news" networks?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:55 PM on November 11, 2004


Am I the only one here who remembers this movie being shown, on ABC, about a year ago, uncut?

It was on a Sunday night, I think, and I remember vividly because I was flipping past and heard the word "fuck", then came back and it was Saving Private Ryan. Uncut, with limited commercial interruptions.
posted by schlaager at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2004


This is probably the most famous quote of World War II.

The most famous single-word quote maybe. It's not exactly Winston Churchill.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:58 PM on November 11, 2004


They took the very democrat approach of complaints only. [...] Would you rather the FCC make the guidelines or the people make the guidelines?

That's not democratic, dude!

Democratic means that you can "vote" either for or against something. With the FCC, complaints can take a show off the air (or cause fines), but you can't file positive affirmations to keep a show on the air, prevent fines, or get it back on after it is removed.

Thus, only negative feedback counts. That's not a remotely accurate representation of what "the people" want to see or hear.
posted by TreeHugger at 1:59 PM on November 11, 2004


can't imagine what anyone under the age of 16 or so would think about the D-day invasion.

I might be misinterpreting you, but I'd hope they'd think that it (and war) was absolute hell. (Though I do agree with you that it's not a film I feel compelled to rewatch - once got the message across, plus, like mr.marx - the actual story was indeed shitty and unwatchable.)

geoff., you're still not making any sense, sorry. One really good critique you haven't responded to was that there are print t.v. guides, and usually a t.v. guide channel. So long as you don't just mindlessly turn on the t.v. and surf, you shouldn't have to see anything you don't want. And I just can't figure out your point about the porn and Sesame Street - even on over-the-air channels, "two guys boning each other with a girl masturbating on the couch" is NOT going to be on, and if it is, it will NOT be in the lower numbers/mixed in with other programming. Full stop, that's it! ABC doesn't show hardcore porn! And really, not softcore either unless you think partial nudity in a historical context (the Schindler's List example) counts. And the numbering system for channels is there for a reason - rest assured, hitting channel "8" will not get you "all Jenna, all the time."

(Though we do get softcore porn for free here in Canada - if you switch past Showcase (ch. 39 for me) after midnight on the weekends, you're more likely to see (fake) sex with female nudity than not.)
posted by livii at 2:00 PM on November 11, 2004


(Though we do get softcore porn for free here in Canada - if you switch past Showcase (ch. 39 for me) after midnight on the weekends, you're more likely to see (fake) sex with female nudity than not.)

City TV, too. Maybe we should write some letters? ;)
posted by The God Complex at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2004


What the hell? What time is this meant to be shown? Surely anything goes after a certain time in the evening? SPR was shown not too long ago on the BBC at 9pm, I seem to recall, the moment the so called "watershed" starts. Sorry, but...what the fuck?
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:06 PM on November 11, 2004


can't imagine what anyone under the age of 16 or so would think about the D-day invasion.

mathowie, I saw Saving Private Ryan right around my 16th birthday. The opening sequence and the part where one of the soldiers is shot by a sniper broke me into pieces, and haven't left me in the past five years. But I'm grateful for that--during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq I've been able to call on those images to shock me out of the more sanitized view of violence that the networks usually stick to. I wouldn't want my (hypothetical) young children to see it, certainly, but there is value in it even for people we don't usually think of as being able to handle images of extreme violence.
posted by hippugeek at 2:07 PM on November 11, 2004


Oh yes, I remembered City just after posting - that is in the lower numbers, isn't it! Well, at midnight, one would assume a reasonable adult would be aware of what t.v. is like at that hour, and that a reasonable parent wouldn't let their kids watch.
(From now on in this discussion, just imagine I'm saying "I agree with The God Complex" on everything.)
posted by livii at 2:09 PM on November 11, 2004


(From now on in this discussion, just imagine I'm saying "I agree with The God Complex" on everything.)

Careful. Someone said that to me once and I started a cult ;)


And you're right, City TV doesn't show uncut movies until late at night, and they don't show softcore porn until after midnight (I think) on weekends.

Everyone should just watch Band of Brothers for eleven hours on Remembrance Day instead. Spielberg, Hanks and Co. did a much better job with that one.
posted by The God Complex at 2:14 PM on November 11, 2004


I can't imagine what anyone under the age of 16 or so would think about the D-day invasion.

Given that most North Americans experience "reality" more or less vicariously (i.e., through entertainment, sports, and the placating lies of politicians), how could a disturbing movie be a bad thing?

I think your question is quite poignant, Matt, especially on Nov 11. What connection do 16-year-olds have with the horror of an earlier generation? Or, for that matter, with the horror of present-day Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, Darfur, etc.
posted by 327.ca at 2:23 PM on November 11, 2004


So run a disclaimer saying that it's violent.

Oh, OK. Problem solved. Just like running a disclaimer at the beginning of The War of the Worlds saying it was only a dramatization worked. Because people only turn on their sets and flip through the channels at the top of the hour.
posted by soyjoy at 2:23 PM on November 11, 2004


We absolutely must not deprive our children, and our children's children, of totally awesome World War 2 movies. To do so would be un-American.
posted by neckro23 at 2:32 PM on November 11, 2004


They should show Best Years of Our Lives instead, and not Mayberry crap.
posted by amberglow at 2:38 PM on November 11, 2004


First of all, in Steven Spielberg's TV deal with ABC, he stipulates that "Saving Private Ryan" must air unedited for content. ABC can't simply cut the f-word out.

"Saving Private Ryan" is a perfect example of a quality piece of art which deserves to be broadcast on the public airwaves, yet is explicitly not for children. There has to be room on the public airwaves for adult material.

The airwaves are owned by everyone, and it is the duty of the broadcasters to represent the interests of all viewers. Airing "Return To Mayberry" as a harmless, inoffensive block of dead air, instead of "Saving Private Ryan", which honestly tells the brutal and profane reality of war? That deserves a fine, not the other way around.

Keeping adults-only programming (like SPR) off the airwaves simply because some channel surfers may be offended by it accidentally is too high a price to pay. I am grossed out every time I pass that channel which shows open-heart surgery, but I don't think it should be banned.

Channels which air pornography are exclusively offered on cable television, which is not regulated by the FCC. The customer is paying for those channels, they can complain by canceling their service.
posted by serafinapekkala at 2:42 PM on November 11, 2004



Oh, OK. Problem solved. Just like running a disclaimer at the beginning of The War of the Worlds saying it was only a dramatization worked. Because people only turn on their sets and flip through the channels at the top of the hour.


I don't know about down there, but in Canada we run these disclaimers for three or four seconds after every commercial break. We also have television guides and, get this, a channel that tells us what's on ;)


"Saving Private Ryan" is a perfect example of a quality piece of art which deserves to be broadcast on the public airwaves, yet is explicitly not for children. There has to be room on the public airwaves for adult material.


Exactly.
posted by The God Complex at 2:46 PM on November 11, 2004


To follow along with geoff's point...

Books are intrinsically faulty. They do not allow the reader to select what may be offensive to them. Books are so widely used, and the subjects are so diverse, it is not feasible to say to people not to read them. A person is basically forced to read whatever is in the library. There is no preview, no "Harry Potter, do you want to read?" it is simply there. Really the only option is to edit books to make them palatable for incidental reading.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:03 PM on November 11, 2004


Using pornography to prove my point was my fault. I was using an extreme example to be somewhat sarcastic and I think it muddled it up.

But Hildegarde, the key difference is that if I pass by "All Quiet on the Western Front" I see the book cover, I read the back of the book. I then realize that it's about war and a graphic portrayal... I don't necessarily need ratings to infer what the content will entail. The War of the Worlds example is perfect. I don't have 5 books in front of me, with nothing but 'ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, TBS" on them, then open them up and read a page.

Reading the TV guide before even turning on the TV is a good point. I would be willing to concede on that point, though there many who wouldn't believe a program listing to be accessible enough.
posted by geoff. at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2004


So you're promoting ignorance?

No, I'm saying that there's some middle between broadcasting graphic war scenes 24hrs a day vs. never showing them ever.

It's like the holocaust -- I'll never forget the images of people in camps and I think I was 15 the first time I saw them. I was ready for it at the point, though it was still a shock to learn how cruel humans could be to one another (my brother beating me up was the extent of human suffering I was familiar with at the time). So I'd put graphic war scenes from SPR in the same sort of area as holocaust images.

Both have their appropriate place and time, and I wasn't aware ABC was waiting until after 9pm to air it, which is fine by me, as most kids are asleep by then.
posted by mathowie at 3:45 PM on November 11, 2004


According to the AP, some stations will be running Return To Mayberry

Oh here in Raleigh we loves us some Mayberry! I have no doubt at all thats what will be on. They've done it before-- refusing to show Temptation Island, I think it was-- giving us instead the wholesome world of those beloved chuckleheads: Goober, Gomer, Aunt Bee, and Andy and don't forget Opie. Guess they figure its better all us adults die of diabetes than be subjected to 47 "fucks."

I don't care. Network TV can go fry an egg.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:44 PM on November 11, 2004


Over-the-air television is intrinsically faulty.

I think I understand exactly what you are saying, and I have one word for you: TiVo.

No, I'm saying that there's some middle between broadcasting graphic war scenes 24hrs a day vs. never showing them ever.

I must still not be following you, because that is not the debate in this thread. No one (not ABC and certainly no one in this thread) has suggested showing graphic war scenes 24 hours a day (though a case could be made currently for CNN et al doing so, but that's a different issue). The question here was regarding the appropriateness of showing a single 2-hour movie once.
posted by rushmc at 4:47 PM on November 11, 2004


I must still not be following you

You're not, because you assumed I meant ABC should never show it ever, and that I wanted to censor it and "promote ignorance." You assumed I meant one of the extremes, when I meant some spot in the middle. That's what I was trying to explain. I could see reasons for parents to worry about a primetime start of SPR, but pushing it to 9pm (or 10pm) would assuage those fears.
posted by mathowie at 5:22 PM on November 11, 2004


Yes, because Jeez, I'm all for free speech, but Saving Private Ryan uncut? Are you nuts? was so clear and unambiguous...
posted by rushmc at 5:48 PM on November 11, 2004


My local ABC affiliate (Phoenix, AZ) is now showing a Gene Hackman film I don't recognize despite the fact that my digital cable guide and the listings in the paper insist that I'm watching Saving Private Ryan.

Pansies.
posted by crawl at 6:14 PM on November 11, 2004


XQUZYPHYR: The NPR story on this this evening stated that ABC corporate would be paying any fines that local stations received from showing this. The story then stated that local stations were concerned about losing their licenses, not just fines.

I had the same thought as you -- what's the FCC going to do? Pull the license of every ABC affiliate in the country? But still some locals, like mine, aren't showing it.

Like I said: Pansies.
posted by crawl at 6:29 PM on November 11, 2004


The only reason I've ever seen this movie is because in *2001*, some network played it uncut on Veteran's Day.
posted by interrobang at 6:38 PM on November 11, 2004


Please. I can't believe that ABC would show Shaving Ryan's Privates UNCUT. I don't care what time it is. That's just offensive!
posted by eyeballkid at 6:46 PM on November 11, 2004


I guess the situation will settle as follows:

1. anything objectionable (which unfortunately includes anything) will be taken from away from public airwaves, as advertisers will be scared of vociferous minorities complaining and networks pissed by the need to reschedule or throw away tons of their content , as they'd rather do reruns then invest in production and know that certain programming gives better return then, for instance, cooking with aunt maud.

2. anything objected will be channeled to cable, satellite being second choice because sat frequencies could fall into public airwaves category ( don't know if sat already falls into it)

Unfortunately some displays like holocaust images and other depicting -actual- senseless violence (thus carrying a potential educational value) could land into cable, including sexual education, darwinism and whatever offends any minority.
posted by elpapacito at 6:54 AM on November 12, 2004


My local ABC affiliate (Phoenix, AZ) is now showing a Gene Hackman
Dallas showed the same movie.
posted by thomcatspike at 6:57 AM on November 12, 2004


elpapacito, you forgot

3. the audience will continue abandoning the networks for cable in droves.

Personally, I say take away the gifted licenses of the privileged Three and award the airwaves each year to the three cable channels that scored the highest ratings (i.e., pleased the greatest number of viewers) in the preceding twelve months.
posted by rushmc at 8:58 AM on November 12, 2004




I could see a WWII vertern not using the f-word yet how else to convey their cuss words. The word they may have used would be traslated to day as O'fuck.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:59 PM on November 12, 2004


I can't imagine what anyone under the age of 16 or so would think about the D-day invasion.

I might be misinterpreting you, but I'd hope they'd think that it (and war) was absolute hell.


I saw this in the theatre and I'm pretty sure that's not what the two 15- or 16-year-olds sitting behind me thought. "Cool!" and "Awesome!" seemed to be a common refrain. And during the sticky bomb scene where the soldier hung around just a little too long, a synchronized "Woah!" followed by excited bouncing and seat kicking.
posted by Monk at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2004


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