Saturday, January 31, 2009

Check it out...!

A quick apology, loyal readers, for being off the blog for the last couple of days. I just got a moment for an update here, so I wanted to urge everyone of take a look at the blogs I follow and check out the piece on the Fairness Doctrine by Paul Levinson. Or just click here. Outstanding!!

Dr. Levinson, a Fordham Communication professor, author of the Phil D'Amato science fiction novels, and free speech advocate also has a couple of words about the NBC/vegetarian ad. And, most importantly, he has a link to the video of the ad!! Take a look at it, unless you're worried that it might usher in the Apocalypse before 2012.

I don't know about you, but I've been getting more and more of an urge to go to the produce aisle at my grocery store!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Go screw yourself with a broccoli!

The culture wars roll on and on! With the approach of the Super Bowl, we have the approach of more ridiculous advertising controversies. Check it out right here.

Apparently NBC is already trying to prevent any possible trouble with the Super Bowl broadcast by refusing to air an ad for vegetarianism by PETA. Too sexual, they argue. One part of the ad, according to NBC’s interpretation, suggests that an actress is “screwing herself with a broccoli.”

Now, unfortunately, we can’t see this for ourselves and decide whether or not this is appropriate because NBC is letting itself be bullied into acting like our broadcast nannies. We must be protected from ourselves because we are too dumb to handle a simple TV ad, or we are such incompetent parents that we don’t know how to raise our children so they are not scarred and corrupted for life by a vegetarianism ad.

The root of all this, of course, is the fact that Super Bowl broadcasts are now anniversaries of the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” and the Parents Television Council’s reign of terror. Following the Jackson situation, the FCC went psychotic and issued more fines against broadcasters in the following year than fines it had proposed issuing in the previous 10 years. This was all due to the prompting of the members of the PTC.

I am certain that these champions of censorship will soon enough be celebrating their ability to keep more expression they don’t like from the airwaves. Check out their web page and keep an eye on this, I suggest. Or, better yet, since these folks like to start complaint campaigns – the home page of their organization has no fewer than THREE links to file an FCC complaint – maybe people can take the time to send them a message and let them know that Americans don’t appreciate their First Amendment rights being trampled upon by bullies and cheap thugs.

The culture wars, in the meantime, will keep rolling on the web broadcasts of WSPC Culture Wars as well. Every Thursday at noon, Eastern time.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Seek Britney

Being away from a regular dose of entertainment gossip, I almost lost track of a great Britney Spears story…then almost missed a piece summarizing a pornography study on the FOXSexpert column. The timing of these stories is just perfect and I wanted to comment on them as a follow-up on my previous post praising the timely and thankful rejection of an absurd anti-porn law by the Supreme Court.

Although we’re in the twenty first century, I still feel the urge to scan the headlines every few days in case there might be the public burning of a witch. Or maybe the red-lettering of an adulteress. Today I just got my almost-missed story of something equally as stupid: the brain trust of the Parents Television Council is threatening to file obscenity complaints against radio stations playing Britney Spears’ song “If You Seek Amy.” Now I’ll have my school radio station to play it completely uncut, I think.

Their reasoning is explained here, on their web page. Some delicate, impressionable young child might accidentally be exposed to it while listening to the radio. The horrors of playing a silly double-entendre that most junior high school kids would be embarrassed to say! Most would be embarrassed because it’s so tame and silly, in fact, that other kids might laugh at their lack of sophistication in matters of sex. I know when I was in junior high, or grade school for that matter, that’s probably what would have happened to you. “If You Seek Amy? Come on, you can do better than that!”

Now would I really would urge anyone to check out the Sexpert article’s summary of a study on teen attitudes on pornography. It is brief, it summarizes the study well, and it’s clear enough with its numbered points for even a member of the Parents Television Council to understand. Or maybe they might want to invest time in a second reading. But the point is that if this is how teens react to pornography, it really is an absurd waste of time to listen to the PTC’s harping about the pernicious threat Britney Spears poses for America’s impressionable, innocent young children.

The study is a remarkable outline of what active and critical consumers teens are of pornography. Far from being stupid, mindless, thoughtless sponges that see images in the media and imitate them, teens process information from even the hardest, most explicit pornography “critically, (compare) it to life experiences and information from other sources. Young people are able to evaluate the materials as overstated, distorted or incorrect. The ultimate reaction: They tune out or distance themselves from the source.”

Furthermore, “hardly any of the participants (in the study) considered the pornography actors as celebrities, but rather as ‘cheap’ and ‘ridiculous.’”

Kids, or adults or any of those audience members in whose name the meddling do-gooders of the PTC usually advocate censorship are not as passive, weak, and pliant as the PTC usually argues.

This should be something to think about for all those admiring the PTC for their efforts to protect America’s families: These people think you are stupid, you can’t run your own family or raise your children, and you need the hand of big government bureaucracies to tell you how to live.

So just relax and let the kids listen to Britney!

Barna W. Donovan, Ph.D.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Forfeit 100-0 Win? What the &*%# for?

I don’t know if this requested forfeiture over the 100-0 basketball win is something that belongs in a “weird news” section or it’s just a sorry commentary on the state of affairs in American culture today. Read the full story here. But maybe in a world where epic incompetence, mismanagement, fraud, and failure gets multibillion dollar bailouts, a shrug, and “hey, let’s just forget about it and start all over,” this crazy story makes some sort of sense.

But after this Covenant School girls’ high school basketball team won a game 100-0, they turn around and ask to forfeit it. And now everyone seems to act like they should be ashamed of that win. What the hell for??

This team won a game fair and square, went out on the court and worked as hard as they could – as they should have – played their best game and beat the other team. And now they should be punished for it? Did they cheat? Were they bad winners? Did they taunt the other team? No! They did absolutely nothing wrong!

Yet they’re treated as if merely doing their best and succeeding was some kind of a crime. The head of their school says the win was “shameful” and an “embarrassment.” I thought you used words like that for cheating or some such willful, malicious breaking of rules and laws. But you should be ashamed of winning??

The Covenant coach apparently did “not immediately respond to messages left by The Associated Press.” This sounds like he’s some multibillion dollar embezzler or con man hiding from the press until his lawyer makes a statement.

Maybe the person who should be in hiding is the losing coach. Coaching 4 winless seasons? He’s obviously incompetent and should be nowhere near a basketball court.

The kids who won that game have nothing to be ashamed of.

Good Riddance to Child Online Protection Act

This Wednesday the Supreme Court decided the Child Online Protection Act will definitely not be revived. You can check out the story here.

This was a law attempting to censor the internet, keeping sexually explicit content away from kids.

It is nice to see the Supreme Court make this decision at the same time we're hearing about the Chinse government cracking down on sexually explicit material available to its citizens over the internet. It's great to see exactly what the contrast is between free societies and dictatorships.

Especially since there isn't a single study offering a single shred of empirical evidence proving that pornography will change children in any way (at least no study that an undergraduate half way through any introductory research class could not tear to shreds, stomp all over, and humiliate), it's great to see nonsense like the Child Online Protection act get thrown right on top of the legal trash heap where it belongs.

I'm kind of looking forward to the reading the reactions of sanctimonious would-be censors like the Parents Television Council.

Violent Films are Good for You

On our January 22 show, we had such a rollicking good time (soon to be available on podcast) on Culture Wars that a few interesting moments still come to mind. Actually a couple of moments where we talked about a few nicely controversial things that might not have been as well-elaborated upon as they should have been.

Like my reflections on being accused of being the anti-Christ just a couple of days after Christmas…during a get-together with friends I haven’t seen in some two years. Since this is not something that happens to you (or at least to me) every day, you kind of wind up scratching your head over it for a while. But it is amusing.

It happened while talking to an old friend about my book, The Asian Influence on Hollywood Action Films. This was a friend I can still remember shooting the breeze with about ninja action movies during junior high lunch periods. But now he was all bent out of shape about my book. A once really cool guy was chastising me about concluding that violent Asian action films are actually good for society because they uncover the erroneous nonsense about so much of the anti-media, anti-violence crusades carried on by all the too-tightly-wound do-gooders on the left and the right. These films, I told him, were made in cultures where the media are much more explicit and violent than ours, yet their violent crime rates are miniscule compared to those of the U.S.

“But hasn’t all the research proved…?” he said.

No, actually it hasn’t.

But my friend, a new father, is now a devout reader of the works of those tireless protectors of America’s hearts and souls and impressionable kids, the Parents Television Council. “This organization quotes all the great studies showing all the correlations between media violence and crime and sexually explicit TV and pregnant teens…”

Which, I needed to explain, was just about proof that the people running this bottom-feeding organization must never have passed an introductory-level research class in college. Anyone arguing that correlations prove causality could certainly never pass my research methods class at St. Peter’s College. “Correlation does not prove causality” is a mantra that every beginner-level student should be able to recite if kicked out of bed in the middle of the night. (An increase in the number of storks nesting in a town as the number of newborns increases is a correlation too) So, no, if your once-sweet little baby girl is turning into a nonstop nymphomaniac while addicted to Sex in the City, it does not mean that S.I.T.C. caused the little angel to go astray.

Nevertheless, throughout the rest of my stay at my friend’s house, I continued feeling kind of unwanted.


The More "Culture Wars" the Better!

"I'll give you a war you won't believe" - John Rambo

As the co-host of the WSPC online radio station's Culture Wars show, I'll be giving our listeners a companion piece to all our wit and brilliance through these blog postings. So far, the Culture Wars show, hosted by myself and Ernabel Demillo, can be heard every Thursday from 12:00 to 1:00, Eastern time.

Changing the sound of daytime talk radio, Culture Wars is a discussion of current events, media, entertainment, politics, and all of our musings on pop culture that pops into the minds of a couple of communication professors.

Especially when it comes to those musings on current events and politics, give us a listen - and stop by this blog - if you want something other than the usual, predictable party lines of left wing and right wing opinions reciting exactly what you expect inflexible left-wingers and right-wingers to recite. On our show, get a taste of something like Libertarian (me) and Zen (Ernabel) party lines. Except when we change our minds and have completely different opinions!

So tune in - and keep reading - if you like the unexpected.