Un-f*cking-believable. (The choice of epithet is intentional—read on…)
In one of the more gutless and disingenuous moves of late, a number of ABC affiliates have decided not to show tonight’s uncut Veteran’s Day airing of Saving Private Ryan. One of those affiliates? Dallas’s own WFAA-TV, owned by Belo Corp. (Belo also owns a number of the other ABC affiliates who are not airing the movie.) According to Belo:
“Due to the intense adult language and graphic violence throughout the movie, Belo Corp. believes it is inappropriate to air this movie at a time when large numbers of young children are watching television […]”
It is violent, there’s no doubt about that—it’s probably the most realistic war movie ever made. But let’s be real here—it’s about the language (i.e., the word “f*ck”) and the fact that it might offend someone’s puritanical sensibilities:
Despite a grisly opening scene that, upon the movie’s release, caused some moviegoers to walk out, the movie isn’t being taken off the air solely for violence, Al Tompkins, a writer for media watchdog site Poynteronline.org wrote in a column posted Wednesday.
“It is the repeated use of the F-word that has TV stations backing off airing it,” Tompkins wrote. “Station groups tell me that they estimate the F-word is used more than a dozen times in the movie.”
(Still not convinced? Let me throw this out to think about: Should ABC, in the future, secure the broadcast rights to The Passion of the Christ, WFAA and Belo will practically be tripping over themselves to see how fast they can air it. After all, it’s a movie about Christ, and Christ sells in the Deep South—never mind that the movie’s also ultra-violent, almost grotesquely so. Just wait—it’ll happen, I guarantee it.)
Still think it’s about the poor children? Not even the decency watchdogs are buying into that:
But according to a story in the Charlotte Observer, even the Parents Television Council, which the Observer describes as one of the most aggressive lobbyists for broadcast decency, said it didn’t approve of stations pulling the movie. The Charlotte, N.C., ABC affiliate WSOC-TV also canceled the broadcast.
“Context is everything,” L. Brent Bozell, the organization’s president, said in an interview with the Observer.
But the truth lies in an article in today’s Dallas Morning News (somewhat ironic, as the DMN is also owned by Belo):
In the wake of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction,” many stations said they fear that the Federal Communications Commission would rule the film indecent and levy fines.
“The inconsistent manner in which the FCC is choosing to apply these rules puts TV stations like ours in a most difficult position,” Raymond H. Cole, president of WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
“We regret that we are not able to broadcast a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces like Saving Private Ryan.”
Granted, WOI is not a Belo station, but that’s all it is when it comes down to it. It’s all about Janet Jackson’s tit and saving a buck. It has nothing to do with how appropriate the airing of the movie is. (And what’s even more confusing is that ABC has already come out and said that they’d pay any fines that result from the airing of the movie.)
Look, we all know in advance that, yes, there’s going to be a whole lot of swearing and violence in the movie. To that I say: Big. F*cking. Deal. If you don’t feel it’s appropriate, change the f*cking channel. There’s your choice, and it’s completely within your rights and abilities. If you know what’s coming and you still expose your children to it, you have no—zero—right to be offended.