The Federal Communications Commission is assigned the duty of enforcing broadcast decency provisions of the Communications Act of 1934. But Barack Obama's FCC seems to think the indecency-discouraging mission of the FCC is as outdated as Glenn Miller, even as the airwaves sound more like Ozzy Osbourne.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is an aggressive regulator, thumbing his nose at a recent court decision that underlined he has no statutory authority for his power lust to rein in Internet service providers. Feeling no need to wait for a Democratic Congress to grant him that authority, Genachowski is planning to reclassify broadband providers as telecommunications companies so he can gain new powers to "protect consumers" and "save" the World Wide Web.
Meanwhile, indecency on the broader band of broadcast TV -- which Genachowski is bound by law to enforce -- is being utterly ignored. Seth MacFarlane, the super-wealthy spoiled man-child of Fox Entertainment, has clearly read the tea leaves and is flaunting the FCC directly.
"Material is indecent if, in context, it depicts or describes sexual or excretory organs or activities in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium." That's the official definition of indecency.
And that would certainly describe the stomach-churning May 2 episode of Fox's "Family Guy," starring Brian, the sophisticated, deep-voiced talking family dog, along with Stewie, the psychotic and effeminate talking baby boy. In this episode, the dog and the baby get trapped in a bank vault, causing the baby to panic and defecate. The baby orders the dog to eat the contents of his diaper. When the dog actually eats the baby feces, the baby vomits and then says, "Got some dessert for you." The dog then eats the vomit. The dog also licked the baby's rear end clean so Stewie could boast to the otherwise empty vault that the dog "French-kissed my bottom clean."
This is a cartoon watched by millions of children on broadcast television at 9 p.m. Many parents have seen the kind of spoiled child who finds a line he's not supposed to cross and then crosses it with bravado, daring anyone to discipline him. Not many have seen this bratty behavior from a grown man at the age of 36. Fox Entertainment reportedly pays this man $100 million to poison the culture.Where is the FCC chairman in "protecting consumers" and "saving" television on this matter? Where do people go to demand that conglomerates like Fox Entertainment are not acting in the public interest?
It would be hard to imagine -- but not impossible, sadly -- how any government bureaucrat at the FCC could argue that this does not depict excretory activities in a patently offensive manner by contemporary community standards. The last I checked, eating feces had not yet gained mainstream acceptance. This episode was so disgusting that even sleazy gossip Perez Hilton blogged that he had to turn the program off.
When it comes to indecency, nobody's home at the FCC.
MacFarlane keeps placing prank calls. Back in January, an episode of MacFarlane's "American Dad" cartoon demonstrated its creator's ongoing fascination with horse sperm. (Previously and infamously on "Family Guy," baby Stewie ate horse sperm for breakfast, with full knowledge of what it was.) Stan Smith, the doltish CIA agent and title character of "American Dad," was tricked into masturbating a racehorse to improve its performance. Viewers next saw Stan being showered with liquid, which turned out to be water from a garden hose as he washed himself off in disgust after he'd performed this supposedly hilarious deed.
Should MacFarlane be ignored? Someone who churns out this kind of "comedy" surely craves attention. He now has three half-hour shows on Fox every Sunday night, all vigorously lunging to offend. If MacFarlane plays with baby feces in the woods, does anyone see it? Sadly, yes: This sorry hour-long episode of "Family Guy" was watched by 7.3 million people, tying ABC's "Desperate Housewives" for first place.
But Genachowski's FCC is much more interested in high-tech matters like affordable broadband access and fuzzyheaded conferences on the "future of media," making the media more friendly for Obama's hope-and-change agenda. Even the commission's Enforcement Bureau isn't interested in indecency. It's announcing how important it is that the regulators are "ensuring that individuals with hearing disabilities can fully utilize wireless phone services."
In January, Michelle Obama bragged to People magazine that her daughters only get to watch TV on weekends, and are limited to Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel. "They can only watch the kid-TV channels for the most part, because you just never know," declared Mrs. Obama. She would not have to worry if her husband's FCC chairman was doing his job.