Brent Bozell

Showtime's website clearly revels in the naughtiness of the subject. In one of its free downloads for Internet sites, it spells out Belle's trashy tricks of the trade:

-- "Talk dirty. A bad reputation can be good for business."

-- "No money, no honey. Never play until they pay."

-- "Be nimble, be quick. Satisfy the client as fast as you can."

-- "Watch the wait. A high-class tart is never tardy."

Other Showtime ads use cheesy slogans like "Doing the town" and "Easy to love" to accompany come-hither shots of Belle. Showtime also urges its subscribers to "sign up to be a friend to high-class hooker Belle de Jour on the Secret Diary Facebook page."? "Secret Diary" is paired with "Weeds" for a full-hour of female-outlaw enjoyment. Showtime calls them "comedies," although there really weren't any laughs in the "Secret Diary" premiere. In a press release, Showtime celebrates Belle the hooker as a "contemporary woman. She is smart, strong and confident and, like many modern women, she is struggling to balance her personal and professional life."

(I wonder what the modern women reading these words right now are thinking.)

TV critic David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun was blunt about "Secret Diary," deploring it as a "nonstop glamorization of prostitution. Belle is portrayed and presented as a London version of Carrie Bradshaw in 'Sex and the City' -- except she gets paid lots of money for having sex with men."

Zurawik also noted this fun-loving, female-empowering approach to prostitution was touted by "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeane Palfrey and one of her call girls, Brandy Britton. But then, thankfully, he lowered the boom: "Forgive this cold splash of social reality, but both Palfrey and Britton committed suicide. That's the kind of story line you won't see explored in Showtime's caviar-kisses and champagne-baths version of prostitution tonight."

Hollywood's champions of immorality always say they're exploring the "gray" areas of morality. They've transcended even that. They are actively painting saintly whites of "complexity" into that overworked genre of "black comedy." Being funny or sexy or vulnerable doesn't make an outlaw morally complex. Hollywood isn't wallowing in "gray." It's dyeing the whole country in black.

Brent Bozell

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