Brent Bozell

Is our popular culture morally upside down? If not, why do good people have to make for terribly boring television? By contrast, why are bad people endlessly fascinating? It's because Hollywood's creative geniuses are obsessed with turning morality on its head. Once upon a time on TV, there were series like "Dragnet," "The FBI" and "Adam-12" with the black and white of good and bad. Protagonists were role models for youngsters. When children played Cops and Robbers, there was no moral confusion over the roles.

In these dark ages of TV, the old formulas are being disdained like newspaper for the bottom of the birdcage. Instead, every form of criminality is mined for its moral "complexity." TV writers are stretching and straining to make law-breakers, including the purely evil ones, admirable, understandable and often sympathetic.

The Showtime pay-cable network has made a specialty out of shining an honorific light on every seedy corner of criminal darkness. In 2005, they dragged out "Weeds," with the poor widowed suburban mom who just had to delve into selling marijuana. In 2006, they sunk much lower into the sewage pit with "Dexter," the series about the sympathetic serial killer who only unleashes his sick compulsions to torture and mutilate on other criminals. CBS even promoted this series to free network TV.

This year, the new fascination is prostitution, and Showtime has proudly unveiled a British import called "Secret Diary of a Call Girl." Sadly, and predictably, Showtime's program glamorizing prostitution is not unique. HBO is also developing a similar series called "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl" from a "tantalizing" bad-girl novel.

"Secret Diary" follows the tawdry life of "Belle de Jour," who feels no shame and displays no regrets for her career, as long as her parents don't find out. "Escort, hooker, prostitute, whore, I don't care what you call me," she declares. "They're just semantics."

Women might try to delve into Belle's motivation for choosing her "high class" career, but this show isn't meant to be appreciated by women. The show is designed for men, who are routinely teased with Belle's every pout, pose and heavy-breathing thrust. It is soft-core, hotel-room porn.

Make no mistake: The soft-core sex scenes in this show are quite explicit. Imagine a family with pay cable blithely whipping through channels and coming across a "sex worker" performing oral sex on a man in a hotel room. Or riding a man atop a saddle in a black bra and panties? Showtime puts "Secret Diary" on at 10:30 p.m. on Mondays, but replays it Wednesdays at 9. In the summertime, it's barely dark before the explicit sex airs.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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