PBS Politicized

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/25/2005 @ 8:09 am

In an era of FCC fines and Republican control of the government, PBS finds itself undergoing some odd changes. Some within the organization are worried.

Ken Tomlinson, the chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting – PBS’s parent – has called the criticism “paranoia,"and said critics of CPB’s initiatives should “grow up.”

PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas, Washington Post.

McMasters on DVD Scrubbing

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/25/2005 @ 8:03 am

The First Amendment Center’s Paul McMasters has some thoughts on the practice of “sanitizing” DVD releases (including, it turns out, “Shrek").

In the end, no amount of technology can take the place of the exquisitely fine filter that is the human mind. We have the ability to delete, deconstruct and even destroy any communication that comes our way, or to turn it to our own elevation. True, from time to time, we will encounter language or ideas that offend, but we should be wary of contracting out our right and duty to choose for ourselves which communications we receive, from Hollywood or anyone else, and how we evaluate what we do receive.

Published in the Naples Daily News.

Turn It Off

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/25/2005 @ 7:53 am

Happy Monday, and happy TV Turnoff Week.

Sponsored by the TV Turnoff Network, TT Week aims to get adults and children away from the tube and involved in more worthwhile activities. One of their programs, “More Reading, Less TV,” advocates for, well, you know. The group’s site also includes suggestions for alternative activities – including volunteer opportunities, environmental actions, exercise and fitness, and political participation.

The group wins extra SpeakSpeak points for the statement it issued in reponse to The Nipple: “The more than 1,000 hours that the average school child will spend in front of the television this year will harm him or her far more than the one second of Janet Jackson’s breast.”

And best of all, the TV Turnoff Network will receive a portion of the sale proceeds from TV B-Gone, a keychain-sized remote that turns off any television – up to 50 feet away. Buy one today to support TV Turnoff Week.

Morality in the Media Asks a Question

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/25/2005 @ 7:39 am

The right-wing group Morality in Media has conducted a one-question poll regarding television and its adherence to community standards.

The question: “In your opinion, is the FCC doing a good job or a poor job of maintaining community standards of decency on broadcast TV, particularly during the evening hours from 8 PM to 10 PM?” Fifty-three percent of the 1,000 respondents said that the FCC is doing a poor job. Forth-one percent said the FCC was doing a good job.

MIM apparently neglected to inform the pollees that the FCC is not responsible for “maintaing community standards of decency on broadcast TV,” since the FCC does not monitor broadcast television, but only reacts to the complaints of those who do.

In other MIM news, a representative of the group somehow found time to contribute to a protest at a Buffalo, NY, church on Sunday. At issue was the performance of a gay men’s chorus. Said one protestor, “there should never be conversation, laughing or applause” inside a church.

Everything Bad Is Good Again

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/25/2005 @ 7:23 am

The New York Times Magazine has excerpted a piece from the upcoming book “Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter,” by Steven Johnson.

In it, Johnson argues that while it is commonly alleged that pop culture pap makes us dumb and dumberer, today’s pop culture fare actually requires much more analysis and intelligence to digest than, say, “Leave It To Beaver.”

For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common-denominator standards, presumably because the ‘’masses'’ want dumb, simple pleasures and big media companies try to give the masses what they want. But as that ‘’24′’ episode suggests [described in the preceding paragraph], the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less. To make sense of an episode of ‘’24,'’ you have to integrate far more information than you would have a few decades ago watching a comparable show. Beneath the violence and the ethnic stereotypes, another trend appears: to keep up with entertainment like ‘’24,'’ you have to pay attention, make inferences, track shifting social relationships. This is what I call the Sleeper Curve: the most debased forms of mass diversion – video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms – turn out to be nutritional after all.

I believe that the Sleeper Curve is the single most important new force altering the mental development of young people today, and I believe it is largely a force for good: enhancing our cognitive faculties, not dumbing them down.

Fascinating read, at the NYT Magazine.

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