Sunday, November 21, 2004

And Another Thing...
Getting back for a minute to the disgusting behavior displayed on our television sets during sporting events, how about that steamy pre-game promo last Monday night?

Do I have a problem with it? Yes. But not for the reasons you think I might.

The "controversy" (it's only a controversy if it happens accidentally, this was planned, so it's not controversy) has had many sides aired out already. There's the racial angle, so thoughtfully anunciated for us by Tony Dungy. There's the salacious angle, being played up by bible thumpers across the country. There's the "they shouldn't have shown it with kids in the room" angle, as well.

Let's get this straight: what ABC did was to promote one show during another. This happens all the time in the business world -- it's called cross-selling. You have one red-hot product to sell, and if you tie it in with another, you supposedly boost the sales of both. Semi-porn and football are hot commodities, and yes, if you put them together, you get something reeking of dollar signs. Don't think so? Just ask the Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleaders or all the big-busted muscle sluts in "Professional" wrestling.

Look at this from a business perspective: nothing sells like sex and the sleazier and the more suggestive it is, the better. So, let's get a hot blonde and a black guy in a locker room, and get the Mandingo thing going. Let's have them drop their towels and suggest they're "gettin' busy", while we're at it. Let's do it while a third of the men in the country are sitting down to dinner, with their wives and kids in attendance. If you believe ABC didn't realize what it was doing, you need to have your head examined. They knew full well what they were doing and they knew what the reaction would be. Now there's gonna be a bunch of horny 18-34 year old males watching "Desperate Housewives" on Sunday nights to see the suggestion of sex.

Now for all the other stuff.

We live in the 21st century and interracial relationships should not shock us so. I know there are still some people on the planet who haven't grown up, but let's face it, we don't live in the Confederacy anymore. Some of these folks would have no problem if their white son brought an Asian girl home, but absolutely gag at the thought of a white female coupled with a black man. Get over it and join the rest of us in this universe. I've dated women of all races, incidentally, and I don't see them as black, white, yelow or brown, I see them as women. I've had occasion to be locked in the same room with people of all races, sexual preferences and persuasions, and while I may not have liked particular individuals, I never once (I hope!) equated one person I hated with an entire race.

Does sex belong on television? Well, it's been there for so long that the question is moot. In my own lifetime, shows like "Petticoat Junction", "I Dream of Jeannie", "Charlie's Angels", "Three's Company", "The Howard Stern Show" and such, have probably made me immune to some aspects of sex that would have been considered shocking 50 years ago. Heck, "Star Trek" had the first interracial kiss in TV history, and Captain Kirk got it on with a a different woman every week. Not like this kinda thing hasn't been done before, folks. Your typical commercial drips with sex: busty beer girls, women mud wrestling, Viagra or Enzyte ads every 15 minutes. Genital Herpes gets mentioned at least twice a day on TV. Still, we put rules into place --- certain categories of entertainment can only be shown on cable, or after a certain hour, and broadcast TV is at a disadvantage when forced to comply with them. They can only push the envelope while cable can toss it to the four winds. However, the envelope has been stretched so far already that when it comes to sex on broadcast TV, we have to shock, rather than just tittilate (no pun intended).

I'll bet we'll be seeing three men in a suitably-discreet manage-a-trois scene on "NYPD Blue" or something any day now. The subject is pretty much closed --- if we took it away, no one would watch television, which might be a good thing come to think of it.

As for the NFL, they had to have known this was going to take place. One of their star players was going to be involved in a promo for their Platinum-plated showcase (MNF), and the event was going to take place in one of their locker rooms. The lawyers knew. After the fallout from the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, you would think the NFL would tale pains to ensure that that kind of behavior would not be associated with football again. I guess not. It gets people watching more Monday Night Football just in case Nicolette Sheridan performs fellatio on a koala bear as an encore.

However, I did object to some of the gratuitious nonsense that came out in the aftermath. Did Tony Dungy have to bring race into it? Did he have to mention Kobe Bryant? Might as well have mentioned O.J. while he was at it, too. Kobe had nothing to do with this --- this was business, Kobe was a felony. He whined about the stereotype of "black athlete as sexual predator" and that offended him more than anything. He was worried about perception in a sport where drug use is prevalent, women dance in scanty clothes around the sidelines, where guys routinely disrepect each other for a spot on ESPN, and where at any given time, at least one of the players is under indictment, on suspension for drug use or, under arrest. How about getting worked about THAT, Tony?

What was inappropriate about this promo was that it had nothing to do with football. It was crass commercialism and a cynical ploy to bring the bible thumpers and the self-righteous out to watch "Desperate Housewives", just to so they can sit there and rail about "how it shouldn't be on TV", but still get aroused by it.

You know, I forget who said it, but it's still appropos; "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public". That's what drove this whole thing --- the networks treat us all like sheep that occasionally need to be shocked so that they can get more attention. They didn't underestimate anyone's intelligence --- they already knew no one was going to figure it out because they'd be blinded by the sex.

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