The indecency discussion that erupted a year ago encompasses images and words: a flash of breast in the midst of a violent game, a nude Desperate Housewives actress jumping into the arms of a star football player in a Monday Night Football teaser, and Howard Stern's revolt against the FCC, which has evolved into a multimillion-dollar deal to move his misogynistic talk to satellite radio in 2006.
The ruckus made me a little smug because a catalyst for our family's ditching TV altogether had been the 2003 Super Bowl commercialsincluding the one in which a Dodge Ram passenger chokes up a piece of food onto the windshield to the delight of the sadistic driver.
If our decision sounds hysterical, consider this: Late one evening last summer, my family checked into the Comfort Inn in Monterey, California. My 17- and 19-year-old sons headed for their room across the courtyard to watch TV, and I did the same. As I clicked through the channels, a woman holding a life-size model of buttocks caught my attention.
She was espousing the supposed joys of a particular sex act and simulated it with other partially nude people, including a slew of nipple-pierced, bare-breasted young women. What turned out to be an episode of the HBO series Real Sex aired at 11 p.m. and was included in the regular hotel programming. As another dose of glamorized debauchery invaded my family life, I decided that hysteria is entirely appropriate.
James Squire and Jane Smiley, writing in The American Prospect about Viacom's complicity in the Super Bowl farce, said, "No one was even asked to take the blame for the sleazy commercials because the one characteristic of the global corporation is the compulsion to close the sale, whether the product is pure gold, ...1
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