Monday, November 22, 2004

 

"We say one thing and do another"

Guess it's time for the religious right to start policing what its own people watch on TV.
Many Who Voted for 'Values' Still Like Their Television Sin

By BILL CARTER

The results of the presidential election are still being parsed for what they say about the electorate's supposed closer embrace of traditional cultural values, but for the network television executives charged with finding programs that speak to tastes across the nation, one lesson is clear. The supposed cultural divide is more like a cultural mind meld.

In interviews, representatives of the four big broadcast networks as well as Hollywood production studios said the nightly television ratings bore little relation to the message apparently sent by a significant percentage of voters.

The choices of viewers, whether in Los Angeles or Salt Lake City, New York or Birmingham, Ala., are remarkably similar. And that means the election will have little impact on which shows they decide to put on television, these executives say.

It is possible that some secondary characters on new television shows will exhibit strong religious beliefs, and an occasional plotline may examine the impact of faith on some characters' lives. But with "Desperate Housewives" and "C.S.I." leading the ratings, television shows are far more likely to keep pumping from the deep well of murder, mayhem and sexual transgression than seek diversion along the straight and narrow path.

"It's entertainment versus politics," said Steve McPherson, the president of ABC Entertainment. He dismissed the notion that program creators might be developing ideas specifically to chase voters who claimed moral values as an important issue in this election. "I have not heard an idea of that kind," Mr. McPherson said, "none whatsoever."

So if it is true that the public's electoral choices are a cry for more morally driven programming, the network executives ask, why are so many people, even in the markets surrounding the Bush bastions Atlanta and Salt Lake City, watching a sex-drenched television drama?

"Desperate Housewives" on ABC is the big new hit of the television season, ranked second over all in the country, behind only "C.S.I." on CBS. This satire of suburbia and modern relationships features, among other morally challenged characters, a married woman in her 30's having an affair with a high-school-age gardener, and has prompted several advertisers, including Lowe's, to pull their advertisements.

"We say one thing and do another," said Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment. "People compartmentalize about their lives and their entertainment choices."

The divide between what people accept as proper in public and what they choose to enjoy in their private lives is, unsurprisingly, nothing new in the history of the world or this country.

"When the Pilgrims who landed on Plymouth Rock left behind writing, it was William Bradford's, and you can clearly see what they believed in and what their values were," said Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, referring to the colony's first governor. "Then you look at the court records and you see all kinds of fornication, adultery and bestiality."

Herbert J. Gans, professor of sociology at Columbia University and the author of "Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste," said, "For some people it's a case of 'I am moral therefore I can watch the most immoral show.'"
That point was echoed by Gary Schneeberger, the senior manager of issues for Focus on the Family, an influential evangelical Protestant group that urged its supporters to vote on values. "History has shown that even people who could be described as values voters are prone to sinful behavior and watching representations of sinful behavior," Mr. Schneeberger said. "Is it shocking that people would be enticed by it? It's not shocking, but it is tragic."

He said he understood how some viewers might enjoy the murder-mystery aspects of "C.S.I.," the No. 1 show his group has assailed for its graphic depictions of violence, even though justice is served most weeks. But, he added, "is it worth having to go through all this garbage to solve a mystery?"

There have been successful series with religious overtones, like "Touched by an Angel."

But since that show went off CBS, the record is less impressive, said Leslie Moonves, the co-president and co-chief operating officer of Viacom, which owns CBS and UPN. On the CBS show "Joan of Arcadia," God is a recurring character. But he is not pulling in the viewers, and that goes for almost all states.

If moral and religious values were truly what people most wanted to see depicted on television, Mr. Moonves said, "I guess we'd be seeing 'Joan of Arcadia' doing better than 'C.S.I.'" Mr. Moonves said his network had no plans to tinker with its shows. "As soon as you think of something that makes you start putting other things in a show, you change the nature of the show," he said.

Mr. Reilly of NBC, however, said, "I do think we tend to give short shrift to certain areas of the country."

"One of the things we're playing with is having characters with strong religious beliefs included in some of our new shows," Mr. Reilly added. "This would not be the premise of the show, but we could have a character who simply has this strong point of view."

And over at Fox, Preston Beckman, the executive vice president for program planning, said he had some advice, however marginal, for producers pitching the networks. "Make sure that a lot of them are at least located in red states," he said. "And give the characters a dog."
There have been plenty of shows set in the red states (Dukes of Hazzard, Grace Under Pressure, Reba, Dallas, etc.) But someone's watching Will and Grace, Friends, E.R., Law & Order, C.S.I., etc. If there really were a market for the kind of bland, "uplifting" stuff narrow-minded right-wing fools like Schneeberger wishes we would all consent to be satisfied with, PAX would be the number one rated network. Even that bastion of Christian moral values, Fox News Channel, is in serious trouble now that Scott Petersen has been found guilty.

To be honest, I don't care at all what people watch. (Although I have to say, I wish pro wrestling would just shut up.) And I'm hardly surprised that so-called "moral" people are hypocrites. After all, people who claim they believe in self-reliance and responsibility voted for a president who has never earned a damn thing he's received in his entire life and never taken responsibility for anything either. So why would it shock anyone that they pretend to be moral while watching filth and trash on TV?

Not that there's anything wrong with filth or trash...as long as it's well-made filth and trash.
Comments:
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Comments: "
We are trying to find good dvd movie online rental to take the kids this weekend. Good dvd movie online rental reviews are hard to find

I just stumbled onto your blog while looking. Seems to happen to me a lot since I am a knowledge mooch LOL

Thanks
 
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