Opinions

Public morality watchdogs making entertainment unentertaining

There is nothing like “a bit of the old ultra-violence,” according to Malcolm McDowell’s character Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 classic, “A Clockwork Orange.” And really, what’s wrong with wanton sex, graphic violence and bad language on television and in popular media? Nothing, I say.

Watchdog groups that purport to know the rules for decency in this country are becoming louder and louder these days. In the grand scheme of things, these groups have very little true power, but they just seem to be popping up more and more.

Ever heard of the American Decency Association? This grassroots group of religious sycophants has taken it upon itself to pass judgment on everything from the “sin” of homosexuality to commercials that they find risqué.

Take the new Halls Refresh ad, which has a young college student offering his roommate’s mom a sucker on move-in day. As the two suck their lozenges, we hear a voiceover of their thoughts, which are thinly veiled with sexual innuendo. Big deal, right?

According to the ADA, the ad is “disgusting” and “morally bankrupt”. The ad is definitely stupid and totally unfunny, but I don’t think it is contributing to the death of morality in America, as the ADA would have you believe.

In fact, groups like the ADA do more harm than good and are worse for the country than any sexually suggestive ad. You see, these are the groups that often attempt, and sometimes succeed, at actually influencing laws.

Most people have heard of George Carlin’s 1972 monologue, “Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television,” where the comedian uttered seven cuss words and set the stage for a decency debate that would rage for years to come. There is always something I have found funny about this “taboo” list of words — just about every one of us uses these words from day-to-day yet we rarely hear them on television or the radio.

Of course, this all stems from the idea that we are trying to protect our children by keeping their eyes shielded from pornography and their ears plugged from coarse language. Meanwhile, kids in playgrounds across America are cussing at each other nonstop and repeating the most graphic of sexual phrases.

Does anyone see the dichotomy here?

Why do we even have decency laws that restrict true free speech and entertainment if it really does no good? I’m no prude, so don’t get me wrong. Kids will be kids, and nowadays they grow up fast. What’s wrong with a little sex, drugs, violence and cussing in popular media?

Believe it or not, places do exist where sometimes even a woman’s bare nipple is shown on broadcast television! And people actually say the word “F—” freely and get away with it! Of course, I am talking about the freedom of popular media in countries besides the United States. Why can’t the best country in the world be like that too?

Premium cable channels like HBO and certain basic cable channels like Comedy Central push the envelope but it is not enough. When I see a group like the ADA crawl out from whatever hole it lives in and start making a stink about an asinine commercial, it shows me that something needs to change.

Maybe change needs to occur at the governmental level within the Federal Communications Commission, but these puritanical restrictions that laws put forth on entertainment for the sake of keeping children somehow “whole” are utterly ridiculous.

Are cuss words really that bad? No, they aren’t. They are just words. And they also happen to make self-expression extremely lively and spirited. What’s wrong with that?

Groups like the ADA make me sad. I love America and I would never live anywhere else, but it is easy to see how our decency laws end up restricting us more than they should. Again, kids will be kids and will continue to grow up fast no matter what decency laws a country follows.

I’m an adult and I want to be entertained like one. So no offense, but F— the kids.

Gerry Wachovsky is a graduate student and columnist for the Daily 49er.

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