Thursday, November 11, 2004

It’s not like it’s “Shaving Ryan’s Privates”

ABC affiliates covering 1/3 of the country have decided not to air “Saving Private Ryan,” because of fears that the FCC would fine them for its 3 dozen plus (according to Daily Variety) uses of “fuck”--contractually, and good for Dreamworks, the movie must air unedited. Fines weren’t the issue for the affiliates--ABC promised to pay--rather, the stations were afraid of losing their licenses at renewal time. Now, this isn’t just tv stations running scared and preemptively censoring themselves, post-Janet Jackson: the FCC could easily have stopped this nonsense by giving an advance waiver. Considering that the FCC already ruled in 2002 that Saving Private Ryan is not indecent, in response to a complaint by idiot puritan Donald Wildmon, this should have been a no-brainer, but the FCC instead told the stations to exercise their own judgment and risk the consequences. As far as I’m concerned, that decision to leave the threat of a multi-million-dollar fine hanging over the stations’ heads amounted to an act of state censorship. Tom Coburn, who so objected to Schindler’s List, would be proud.

Viewers in the affected regions will be treated to less f-word-laden fare such as Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in “Far and Away,” “Return to Mayberry” (!), and in Austin, schizophrenically, an episode of Oprah followed by “Lethal Weapon III.” Honestly, I don’t know whether Return to Mayberry or Lethal Weapon III is the better ironic commentary on the whole affair. At least I hope they’re intended as ironic commentary. Happy Veteran’s Day.

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