Television has been around for a LONG time.I am on the front end ofGeneration X. You may be a Baby Boomer, A Millennial or “other”. Regardless, please bear with me while I try to flush out a few TV censorship facts before gracing me with your spin on this particular situation. There’s just so much to digest here. It’s like a complicated Boxing Match.
First, for the undercard, in a nutshell. Ladies & Gentlemen of the Jury, please presume the following facts into evidence :
*In 1952, Lucy Gets Knocked up on The Lucille Ball Show , but industry standards would not allow use of the word pregnant. As a result, “with child”, “having a baby” and “expecting” punctuated the scripts of the time; and,
*In 1956, Evlis’ PELVIS was shoved off the screen on the Ed Sullivan Show when he started to gyrate.To avoid getting American Audiences too worked up, the camera shots abruptly jerked from crotch to face in a not-so-seamless edit!
Now, for the Main Event.
From 1961-1966, the undisputed heavyweight champ on television was the “Dick Van Dyke Show”. The Main character, played by Van Dyke, was Rob Petrie, a TV script writer happily married to his beautiful wife Laura, played by Mary Tyler Moore. This couple lived during a different time but were — by most accounts– pretty normal. Except for one glaringly-odd occurrence: They never slept in the same bed. You know why? BECAUSE TELEVISION STANDARDS DID NOT PERMIT IT.
In September of 1965, a feisty featherweight named “I Dream of Jeannie” entered the ring. In this early “sitcom,” the star, the shapely, velvety- smooth Barbara Eden played the role of “Jeannie” who–GASP– appeared before America exposing her MIDSECTION! But how’s this for a sucker-punch:Like her contemporaries Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island and Gidget, She could not expose her bellybutton. You know why? BECAUSE TELEVISION STANDARDS DID NOT PERMIT IT.
I guess that was the poop hit the fan because, in 1968, ground was broken when the audience heard– not to be confused with saw, mind you– a toilet flush on “All in the Family” . This show soon spun out a brand new welterweight of its own named “The Jeffersons” ,who bounced off the the ropes swinging– with an interracial couple named Tom & Helen Willis: Oh the Social Horror! And you know what? THE TELEVISION STANDARDS ALLOWED IT!
This piece could spend pages detailing all kinds of “Television Pioneers” running the gamut from sexually frustrated aliens to racially mixed families to odd-ball threesome roomies …all the way to an openly-gay man living in Melrose place, for goodness’ sake. But we can utilize the first three examples to solidly illustrate the undeniable FACT that industry standards for television censors have been seriously loosed over the years. Let there be no doubt that tolerance is a good thing. But for the love of God, just how much… is TOO much… of a good thing?
ABC’s recent decision to cast transgendered Chastity-Chaz Bono in this year’s Dancing With the Stars Competition has the “entertainment world’s” head been spinning like Bazoo-zoo’s Ragin in Exorcist II! The Fundamentalists are — YAWN– united in calling foul for ramming this “freak of nature” down America’s throat, in a blatant attempt to DE-sensitize the public from any trace of morality still lingering around in it’s bloodstream. Conversely, the liberal extremists are taken aback, Iraqi-like in their Shock and Awe by this “backwards” monolithic expression of hardcore intolerance–EXHALE!
There are pragmatic considerations too. Will television’s lifeline– the advertisers– finally pull the plug and draw the line this time, or are they as “worked up” and excited a a sex-starved, moist palmed pre-pubescent at an advance screening of Blue Lagoon?
Has Morality received a final TV TKO? I don’t have the answer, others may.
Feelin’ like Cinderella, Nancy Grace is Dancin’ this year. And her take on the Chaz Controversy is “If he doesn’t have yellow police tape around him, I could not care less”. Well Chaz is clearly no felon, and neither is the most hated person in America, Casey Anthony for that matter. Would Nancy be so cavalier if she were doing the watusi next to that “mother of the year”?
Again, I don’t have the answer, but it is clear that television has certainly either Evolved or Devolved over the last fifty years, depending on how you view it. Which is why I am asking for YOU to WEIGH IN to the ring, as it were.
James”Bubba” Cromer is an attorney, admitted to practice in South Carolina, California & The District of Columbia. He has Written, Produced & Directed two Multiple Award-Winning Feature Films: The Long Way Home: A Bigfoot Story & The Hills Have Thighs: An Appalachian Comedy. Bubba and his critters live in Columbia, South Carolina & Brevard, North Carolina