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Providing information to unwitting victims on a "don't-need-to-know" basis since 1974.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Shelter From The Storm

Once again House Republicans have PBS in their sights.
Some of them relish the idea of political payback against one of the few media outlets that doesn't regularly rebroadcast unfiltered Republican talking points; others are simply riding the "privatize everything" hobbyhorse. Most people in their political base don't watch PBS for one reason or another, though there isn't necessarily anything liberal about, say, "Antiques Roadshow" or "NOVA" (unless, I suppose, they're talking about dinosaurs and you believed that their fossils were planted there by Satan to confuse us.)

But here's what I find ironic about all this. Republicans get a lot of praise and a lot of votes from parents and other people who decry the "coarsening of the culture," as a recent George Will column put it. Without getting into who or what is causing such a phenomenon or what overall are appropriate methods for dealing with it, I know of one place where such a coarsening is by and large not happening.

How odd is it that they're going after the one channel on your television you know you're never going to see anything that's going to make you want to put your hands over your childrens' eyes? You will not find gun-toting gangsters, stand-up comics cursing up a blue streak, booty-shaking music videos, or commercials drenched with unsubtle sexual innuendo. "Desparate Housewives" and "Deadwood" aren't there, and you're not likely to see much of Howard Stern or Dave Chapelle. When PBS shows news oriented programming, it doesn't come in form the of the shout fests you find on cable news channels. Nor do they spend any airtime discussing Paris Hilton or her sex tapes, Lindsay Lohan or her breasts, Jennifer Lopez or her backside, or the feud between 50 Cent and Fat Joe.

Of course, given who the Bush administration has put in charge of acting as stewards over public policy, we shouldn't be too surprised about these developments.

Quoth Ken Feree, in the context of admitted he doesn't watch much PBS:
I don't always want to sit down and read Shakespeare, and [The News Hour With Jim Lehrer] is akin to Shakespeare. Sometimes I really just want a People magazine, and often that is in the evening, after a hard day.

Because Lord knows that commercial television doesn't give near us enough vapid saturation coverage of vapid celebrities and their vapid lives.

If you leave this up to the marketplace, parents, you'll get more Britney and Kevin, more Jessica and Nick, more F-bombs, more blow jobs, and more mob hits on television. Television was described as a "vast wasteland" years ago and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Decades ago our society decided to see to it that no matter where in America you live, that there would be one channel on your dial that was different, one that wasn't going to need to chase advertising dollars by grabbing demographics beloved of marketing agencies. If we let go of it, we are making a mistake.


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