Friday, October 12, 2007

Censorship Hypocrisy

A few weeks ago, I was watching TV in a search for new shows to follow. One night, I tuned into "Bones", which I've seen a few more times since. This is a medical/crime show that features a forensic anthropologist who works with an FBI agent in identifying murder victims whose bodies are in sufficiently poor condition as to be hard to identify by ordinary means.

Unlike similar shows in years past, very little is left to the imagination. I've seen the show less than a handful of times, but I've seen several graphic and grisly scenes of death. In one episode, a woman is killed when the minivan she is driving explodes from a planted bomb. When the two main characters arrive at the crime scene, the viewer sees a close-up scene of blackened hands attached to charred, jagged forearm bones, still holding the wheel. There is another scene at the lab where the title character cuts the victim's blackened finger off, then holds it up, before immersing it in a solution that will make it possible to get a fingerprint from the finger. In another episode, there is a scene where a child discovers a decomposing body, complete with a closeup of worms and other insects crawling out of the mouth and empty eye-sockets of the victim. I have no problem with the realism, and this is a show I'll likely keep watching, and I might even read the books it's based on as well.

The show comes on at 8 pm on Tuesday nights in my viewing area and after seeing several grisly scenes like those mentioned above, I thought that a lot of kids must be watching this show, considering what time it comes on. And while teens and adults should have no problem with the graphic nature of some of the scenes, I knew that these scenes would likely inspire nightmares for pre-teen children watching.

And I wondered where were all the fundamentalist censorship advocates who are so keen on protecting the innocence of children? These people, who raised so much hell over the brief appearance of Janet Jackson's nipple at the 2004 Superbowl and anything more sexual than a peck on the cheek, are strangely silent when it comes to shows with explicitly grisly or violent scenes.

Do fundamentalist censorship advocates really think that the sight of a bare nipple, a naked breast, or a naked couple in bed where the covers aren't pulled up tight to the armpits will cause children psychological harm, but seeing graphic violence and grisly scenes of burned, mangled, and/or decomposing bodies of people who died violent deaths will not?

I think they've got it ass backwards. As I said above, it's quite likely that young children seeing the more grisly scenes on "Bones" and other similar shows and movies will have nightmares -- but I'm absolutely certain that no kid would ever have a nightmare after seeing a naked boob.

My beef isn't with shows like "Bones" or the networks, other than recommending that such shows be shown later in the evening when fewer young children will be up to view them.

Rather, my ire is directed at the hypocrisy of censorship advocates with their misguided focus on what is most inappropriate for children to watch.


1 comment:

oldmanlincoln said...

You make some valid points and it does point up the hypocrisy in our society. I suspect it is somewhat the same everywhere. Lots of our moral judgements are based on early religion and we all know who put clothes on the natives.