David Almasi: Even Family Shows Push The Envelope

In the furor over the FCC’s decision to put more effort into enforcing its own regulations on decency, NCPPR exec David Almasi speaks out against a more subtle but pervasive issue, published in Amy Ridenour’s excellent NCPPR blog:

While listening to the radio on the way into work Friday morning, I heard a real concern that so far seems to be flying under the radar. Tonight’s “George Lopez” on ABC (a Disney-owned company) features a guest starring role by socialite/heiress/amatuer porn actress Paris Hilton as “a beautiful tutor for [George’s son] Max.” The clip they played in the radio commercial had Max learning algebra, with Paris’s character telling him he needs to “find her X.” Max responds that he felt a chill when she said that, and laughter ensues. Upon reaching the office and cracking open the paper, I saw a photo of the same scene — and Max appears to be 10-12 years old.
“George Lopez” is marketed as a family show. It airs at 8pm. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hilton got the job because she is provocative. Stern was booted from Clear Channel, by the way, for statements made while he was interviewing the man who is selling a video of himself and Hilton having sex. She is there to titillate. And her foil is a young boy.

I watch “George Lopez” regularly (7 PM in the Midwest) as the First Mate is a big fan of the show, but I missed this particular episode. No doubt, ABC chose Hilton for her, ah, notoriety and not her acting chops. I also find it appalling that in what’s billed as a family show — it’s part of the ABC “TGIF” lineup targeted at kids and their parents — the producers saw fit to put leering sexual innuendo involving one of the young children in the show. In all of that, I agree with Amy and David, as I usually do.
However, I don’t think this falls under an “indecency” umbrella at all. [Full disclosure: the Captain is related to an employee of Disney, and that’s as specific as I’ll get.] From the description, it appears to me that no indecent words were said, nor any “wardrobe malfunctions” aired. There’s a difference between bad taste and indecency. It’s not the job of the FCC to police for taste. Specifically, it’s not in their charter nor in their mandate from Congress, nor should it be. “Indecent” incidents should be specific and as objectively judged as possible, and the rest should be left to the market.
I do agree with Amy and David that the producers of the “George Lopez” show should not have used the character of a prepubescent boy for sexual innuendo, at least not in a prime-time show marketed at young families. I would encourage those who feel strongly about it to make their objections known to the producers and their sponsors and to tune to another show if it continues. I’d prefer that the FCC focus on the plethora of examples of prima facie obscenity that airs on broadcast TV and radio instead of becoming the taste police.

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