The next time you bite into a juicy Wendy's hamburger, just remember this: The corporate folks at Wendy's apparently are content to advertise their burgers on TV shows that treat spousal rape as just another entertaining plot twist.
The show airs on Fox's cable channel FX, a show called "Rescue Me," about a set of dysfunctional New York City firefighters in the wake of Sept. 11. Comedian and actor Denis Leary -- last seen displaying his "comedy" on Comedy Central's putrid special "Merry F---ing Christmas" -- writes and stars in the show. On the June 20 show, Leary's main character raped his estranged wife. Worse yet, in mid-rape, she began to enjoy the assault.
One is tempted to say here that this show is completely unacceptable for young children sitting in front of the television, with its violence, profanity and graphic sex scenes. But a program that suggests that rape might just be an acceptable beginning for eventually consensual sex should be offensive to everyone this side of the Night Stalker. Where are the feminists of Hollywood when this sort of scene hits the cable systems of America?
The rape scene disgusted even many TV critics, who are usually passionate promoters of "edgy" television and regularly award the thumbs-up for storylines trashing conventional morality. "Stunningly mishandled," said the San Francisco Chronicle. "A horrible rape fantasy," found the Newark Star-Ledger. The Chicago Tribune said it best: "Showing a woman appearing to enjoy a rape, and the rapist exiting with a smile? That's not depicting a behavior, that's condoning it."
But somehow, Wendy's and other advertisers cannot be budged from their financial support of this disgusting program. Several weeks ago, the Parents Television Council sent a letter to Wendy's, urging them to reconsider whether it wanted its brand name associated with such graphic sex and violence. This family restaurant chain responded with a dismissive letter defending its advertising policies as an acknowledgment of "the wide spectrum of interests of our potential customers."
This is a complete reversal for Wendy's, which just a few years ago declared that family-friendly TV was an issue of "paramount importance" for the company, and more recently stated their goal is to "select programs that appeal to the entire family." That family now includes husbands who rape their wives, and wives who enjoy the assault.