February 26, 2004
Clear Channel

The Howard Stern radio show has been taken off half a dozen channels for obscenity. The hosts of the similar Don and Mike radio show in Washington D.C. were placed on administrative leave for two weeks because a technical glitch allowed an obscenity to be heard on the air. "Bubba the Love Sponge" in Florida was fired outright. A cold wind indeed seems to be blowing through broadcasting, and you can't turn on a radio show today without hearing about it.

The thing is, for the most part I agree with what's happening right now. I reserve the right to change my mind or protest if I think it's goes too far, but at the moment to be honest I'm ever-so-slightly pleased at what's going on.

Nobody is as shocked as I am at that admission. For the longest time I was at the absolute tip of the anti-censorship crusade. "If you don't like it, change the damned channel" was the "phrase that pays" as far as I was concerned. Just a bunch of damned busy-bodies poking their noses into my entertainment, trying to tell me what I could and could not watch.

But you know what? As I've grown older, and more importantly had my own child, I'm beginning to realize just how much of this is crap for crap's sake. Shocking images, shocking sounds, shocking words that illuminate absolutely nothing, reveal only that we can be shocked, are simply a waste of everyone's time. Yes, I can (will) change the channel, but I'm growing increasingly tired of being required to every time I turn around.

So pardon me if I'm not particularly concerned that Howard won't be able to smear a woman's butt with cream cheese and throw bagels at it. Excuse me if I'm just a little relieved I won't hear even a bit of what Don or Mike saw in their toilet bowl this morning. And please forgive me if I think it's a good thing Arty Lang will have to be clever to get laughs instead of simply being good at "anal ring toss".

I've lived through all this before, and so have they. Reagan's Meese commission was far more effective at "suppressing smut" than the current FCC will ever dream of being. The country survived that, it'll survive this too. Slippery slopes? Please. I find irony deeper than an ocean trench every time some mindless twenty-something holds a "Bush = Censorship" sign up to a camera, or yet another drippy hippy writes a screed on their website proclaiming the police state has arrived. Got news for you sparky... people who have really lost their freedom of speech don't get the chance to complain about it.

I think everything, even pornography, has its place. I still believe changing the channel is the first, best choice for someone who doesn't like what they’re hearing or seeing. But I also believe people have an obligation to be decent to each other, that shocking people just to shock them is artistic masturbation, and that it's better to do good work than indulge in bad behavior. I don't think preventing Howard from broadcasting the description of a man's toe being inserted into a woman's vagina will result in the destruction of our free society.

I'm amazed anyone (except maybe Howard) does.

Posted by scott at February 26, 2004 04:08 PM

eMail this entry!

The thud you just heard is your mom falling off her chair. We are agreeing on something, will wonders never cease. I am also attempting to get use to a kitty meowing, one hiding in the back of the linen closet and the fact that nothing is safet in this apartment from curious prying little kitty paws.

Posted by: Pat on February 26, 2004 05:09 PM

The one that got to me was Real Sex showing up in my Tivo recommends list. I was unaware of the show (HBO) until then. I watched it with my jaw on the floor.

I don't even recall there being a warning, as there is on the excellent "Berman & Berman" (women's health issues, including sexual health. Very forthright and not at all prurient.)

I am not against titties on TV, or even gratuitous sex, I just want a way of locking it out. You know, like having to go into the back room to get the beaver mags.

Posted by: liz on February 26, 2004 06:00 PM

Turn the channel or turn it off.
Now yes, I don't think throwing bagels at asses or talking shit in the toilet is much fun radio, but there are how many other channels out there?

Posted by: Ellen on February 26, 2004 06:43 PM

Did you name this posting "Clear Channel" for a reason? I ask because my radio station of choice is FM 93.1 WPOC, a country station out of Baltimore. And they are a Clear Channel affliate.
WPOC will celebrate 30 YEARS (yes, folks, THIRTY YEARS!!!!) of music on the radio this Summer. And they have stayed on the air without the shocking, and uncalled for comments and stories.
So I don't have to turn my radio station and I love it!

Posted by: Cindy on February 26, 2004 08:06 PM

I mostly agree with you.

The problem I have with the government consorship (see the FCC investigation of Janet's nipple shield) is that as long as the government is "protecting" us, we won't get the tools that could actualy make a difference. Image if every TV had the ability to block programming based on the rating, and every program was broadcast with a rating. In this system the Super Bowl would be 4/10 for sex (cheerleaders) and 7/10 for violence. Then when Janet was forcibly exposed, the people and the TC stations would have just cause to sue MTV, Janet, and the curly haired guy for crap loads of money for violating their ratings.

Byna, doesn't see the big deal about nipples. (mmmm. boobies!)

Posted by: Byna on February 27, 2004 02:42 AM

Well - time to weigh in. I have to agree with the change the channel types. IMHO, it isn't that hard to avoid the nastiness compared with the potential issues with having the gov't choose what I want to see. I know which channels broadcast this sort of nastiness and I just don't listen to them. Very easy. but I do support everyone else's right TO listen to them. And their right to broadcast. This can occasionally cause conflicts, however, this is a small price to pay in the long run. We can't shield our children forever - if you think you've eliminated everything on TV and the radio - they they go to school for 6-8 un-parentally supervised hours. And we all remember what we were like in school (especially the guys) - if it was sexual or disgusting, it was open game to talk and brag about doing (though most of us never did these things, we just lied...). In other words, the kids are going to hear it anyway, and at least if we're there we can have an open and frank discussion about it, which will do much better for them in the long run.

Another way to look at this is that making things taboo makes them exciting to do. If they aren't taboo, they don't hold the excitement...

Posted by: Ron on February 27, 2004 10:18 AM

I listen to Howard Stern sometimes. He can be much more entertaining than other boring FM morning shows. I was quite glad when I found out that the station I listen on was not run by ClearChannel.

Posted by: Sherri on February 27, 2004 01:03 PM
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