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January 31, 2009

Something To Be Proud Of?

What is new about the current relativism, it seems to me, is not that it contends the positioning of boundaries, for such positioning has, I think, always been contentious: It is always possible, after all, to argue that any given boundary contributes more to the misery than to the happiness of man. Rather, the current relativism contests the very need for boundaries itself, or at any rate has the effect, once it filters down from the intelligentsia into the general population, of destroying the appreciation of the need for boundaries. And if no boundaries are needed, then any attempt to impose them is without legitimacy. Only what comes from the self is legitimate.

- Anthony Daniels

I don't find this particularly surprising:

Half of the commercial breaks during NFL telecasts show at least one advertisement featuring sex, drugs or alcohol, according to a study by a nationwide nonprofit group...

...Among its findings:

_ 40 percent of games showed ads for erectile dysfunction drugs.

But at the same time, I have to wonder what is happening to our cultural standards when we continue to erode the boundaries between public and private behavior? A society can tolerate many things (up to and including some harmful behavior) so long as it goes on behind closed doors. When everything must be tolerated in broad daylight right in the middle of Main Street, things become more difficult:

"We don't object that they can advertise their products. It's OK on the Howard Stern show at 2 a.m.," he said. "But here on the West Coast, you sit down with your kids to watch a football game on Sunday at 10 a.m. and ka-boom, they hit you right between the eyes. By 10:07, your 5-year-old is asking what erectile dysfunction means."

Am I the only one who finds this sort of thing creepy?

"Viewers have come to expect our edgy internet-only versions on Super Bowl Sunday and this year's online video really pushes the envelope," said Bob Parsons, GoDaddy's CEO and founder. "In fact, the extended version of 'Baseball' almost makes me blush."

For the first time in five years of Super Bowl advertising, GoDaddy says it received approval for two different ads weeks before the game.

“Baseball” and “Shower” both feature IndyCar driver Danica Patrick. The first has her making fun of the steroid saga, while the other features Patrick showering with another women while three guys manipulate their actions online.

The teaser ads were pre-screened on GoDaddy’s website, and voted on by the public. The winner will be revealed at the start of the game.

But the most shocking, controversial Super Bowl ad that is arguably getting the most exposure without the $3 million price tag, will never actually be aired during the game. PETA's "Veggie Love", which depicts scantily clad woman licking, stroking and nearly having sex with vegetables, was banned by NBC.

When pushing the envelope comes to be viewed as a good thing (and is celebrated by conservatives to boot) I begin to wonder how long it will be before there are no standards at all - until there remains no line which cannot be crossed?

Posted by Cassandra at January 31, 2009 07:59 AM

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Tolerance alone is no longer acceptable. That's so sixties... =8^} In today's hip new culture, approval must be given lest ye be called a bigot, ____phobe, hater, or some other terrible, self-esteem crushing kind of name.

Posted by: bthun at January 31, 2009 11:12 AM

"Pushing the envelope" is a phrase from aviation -- the flight envelope is the regime within which one can safely operate with a reasonable expectation of returning both yourself and the aircraft to the ground in the same condition in which you departed. The envelope for each aircraft has well-defined boundaries.

When you "push the envelope" for your particular aircraft, you are testing engineered boundaries to insure they are safe. If you push too far, you die or, at the very least, destroy your aircraft. Production test pilots routinely explore the limits of new aircraft, but they do so carefully, and to specific standards.

Bob Parsons isn't pushing an envelope -- he's just pushing to see how much people will tolerate before they push back.

Posted by: BillT at January 31, 2009 11:33 AM

NBC has standards? Who knew! In actuality, we were exposed to the PETA ad more times than if it had been aired during the super bowl.

It had the adverse effect of making me nervous when I watch my wife chop the asparagus and cucumber for my salad. Thanks for nothing PETA. Who paid for the production costs on this ad, NOW?

Posted by: vet66 at January 31, 2009 11:42 AM

Not long ago one never saw ads for feminine products on TV. Now, they practically show you...never mind.

Yes, I find it all creepy and embarrassing. I just shake my head and wonder what to do about it.

Is it too late to get that genie back in the bottle?

Posted by: Sloan at January 31, 2009 03:45 PM

I'm an adult, but I still feel very uncomfortable when I am watching TV with my dad and one of those "male enhancement" commercials come on where the people are talking not so discreetly about their sex lives... It's not so easy to judge anymore which programming is "safe" from that sort of thing...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at January 31, 2009 04:10 PM

Well, as long as there aren't any "wardobe malfunctions", I think we are ok.

It's all about the filthy lucre. What were once vices are now habits.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at January 31, 2009 04:44 PM

These days most people have remotes and can either mute the television or change the channels quite easily.What you all say is true I suppose and quite annoying to say the least.
Last night on one of the cable channels I got to see a re-cap of the greatest game ever played. I watched it when it was played originally in 1958. Some of the players are still with us.

Posted by: Mike at February 1, 2009 09:48 AM

What were once vices are now habits.

That's not the message I want my grandchildren (or that I would want my children, if I still had small children at home) to absorb from prime time TV.

I suppose there is something very, very wrong with me Don. I don't think I'm a prude. Far from it.

I just think there's a time and place for adult themed entertainment and I don't want to have to be on the lookout for it in my living room 24/7. I also don't want to have to stop and constantly explain to my kids or grandkids that certain things are not right just because fringe behavior is thrust in my face when I least expect it.

I'm sorry. I have said this before - if people enjoy this sort of thing, there are many venues for them to do so free of interference. When they start forcing it on me I begin to have a problem with it because it does offend me and it does have implications for people trying to teach children what is acceptable behavior in mixed company and in public.

But again, apparently there is something very, very wrong with me.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 1, 2009 10:02 AM


If it's any consolation, there is one old Neanderthal in the viewing audience that agrees with you completely regarding this subject...

When they start forcing it on me...
at every turn on a sidewalk, every show on the tube, every periodical in a barber shop, doctor's office, etc... That is my problem with those who exert a constant downward pressure on any standard of decency and/or modesty. But I figure that I'm mostly a throwback to an early time anyway.

Posted by: bthun at February 1, 2009 10:38 AM

There are a lot of jobs in our society that require a certain amount of creativity--academia, advertising--and quite a few people in those jobs who really aren't very creative. If you need to produce something that looks creative--a scholarly paper or an advertisement--and you don't have much in the way of ideas, what do you do?

One approach is to go for shock value.

Posted by: david foster at February 1, 2009 10:49 AM

..."the greatest game ever played"..."1958"...
I'll assume that would be the Colts-Giants championship game. And if you recall that game Mike, then you might recall this shot of Y.A. Tittle from a game with the Steelers in September of 1964. Of all the football I watched as a kid, this image is one that still stands out in my mind.

Posted by: bthun at February 1, 2009 02:12 PM

I don't even know what to say anymore, bthun.

I don't think it does any good. It's like spitting into the wind.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 1, 2009 02:44 PM

bthun I can't recall that game from 1964 as I was at Parris Island courtesy of the USMC from September 21,1964 to December 22,1964 and didn't see any parts of the civilian world. But that image is iconic if that's the word we'd want to use.
Would it be OK if I saved that picture of Y.A. Tittle ?? I'm going to have to look up some info on that as I wasn't following pro football so much in the 60's. Working and chasing women mostly. And in-between times attending USMC Reserve meetings and summer camps until 1970.

Posted by: Mike at February 1, 2009 06:51 PM

Spitting in the wind? That sounds yucky.

I don't think there is hardly a day that goes by that I am not appalled at what passes for culture or intelligence in some aspect of the "entertainment industry".

Where is the bottom? There is no bottom, it is just going to keep getting worse. What can we do about it?
1) Cancel your cable/satellite subscription and throw out your TV.
2) Nothing

Writing letters to the networks, the sponsors, boycotts, etc. NOTHING. WORKS. IF one sponsor doesn't do it, someone else will.
A commercial the EWTN wanted to air on behalf of "Pro Life" was rejected by NBC. Rejected. Instead we got hours of Keith Olbermann's fat, stupid mug on the pre-game run-up, and the old, recredscent Bruce Springsteen mumbling through the half-time show.
This is what people want. That is what I meant by the comment:"What were once vices are now habits."

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at February 1, 2009 06:56 PM

Mike, please help yourself to that image. I've a similar copy on disk but I didn't feel like loading it up on my iddy biddy web page. So I scarfed it from some pro football site which led to the pointer I posted.

And I know what you mean about not being abreast of pop culture while in uniform. I was out of the loop for years, and upon my separation in 1977, I did not know what to make of disco America upon my reintegration into CONUS.

While I'm spun up in a football binge on this fine Super Bowl Sunday, I'll have to admit that I'm more than a little torqued to find that Claude Humphrey was not inducted into the Hall of Fame! Neither has Tommy Nobis been inducted.

IMHO, this is an injustice of the lowest order. And yet another sign that our society is cratering. =8-\

I'll hush now.

Posted by: bthun at February 1, 2009 07:18 PM

What the use of shock value effects means to me is that the perpetrator is still working out the psychological problem of asserting himself against his parents. Grownups can regulate the social propriety of their behavior without feeling a diminution in selfhood.

It's very interesting, I think, that the one commercial NBC apparently found beyond the pale was the quite sweet-natured and discreet pro-life message that's been circulating recently by email. It shows a fetus and points out that his father has abandoned his mother, and he's doomed to life in an economically disadvantaged single-parent household. The fetus, of course, is President Obama.

Now THIS, NBC decided, was just too much to expect the American public to have shoved down its throat during prime time. There are limits in a civilized society, after all!

Posted by: Texan99 at February 1, 2009 11:09 PM

Cassandra, no offense taken, but when I read this I was sooooo glad we don't subscribe to television. Watching elections and following them online is as racy as it gets for me. Please don't misunderstand. Your post is timely, I understood it completely, but it served to remind me why sometimes things just have to be banned, censored, reined in and otherwise "NOT ALLOWED" in order to keep things in perspective, real and sacred. This post is excellent.

Posted by: Cricket at February 2, 2009 12:39 AM

I'm more concerned about electile dysfunction in this country...

Posted by: camojack at February 2, 2009 04:02 AM

Ironically, I wouldn't mind it if the NFL or the sponsoring network chose to turn away all political ads as well as anything that wasn't fairly innocuous/family friendly during the Superbowl.

To me, it's the same principle: don't shove contentious or upsetting things in people's faces during a freaking football game. I'm not any more sure parents want to stop and explain abortion to their 5 year old during a football game than I am that they want to explain surgically enhanced breasts or why teenaged boys are manipulating naked women in a shower stall via a computer (boy! there's a pleasant topic for a Sunday evening!). Again, I just think there is a time and place, and this isn't it.

I don't watch much TV at all. One of the few things I *do* watch is football on weekends. I already voluntarily stay away from TV to limit my exposure to the trash, so I guess I'd just like to be able to watch a football game with my husband and family without being haranged by PACs or confronted with overtly sexual content during prime time. To me, it's out of place.

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 06:26 AM

I like sports. Where it tanked for me was when I saw people in a place of worship during Super Bowl something-or-other in 1985 (it was played at San Jose State and my best friend and I were having a blast the night before walking around North Beach in San Francisco watching the pre-game parties and eating fabulous Hungarian food. I digress) wearing headphones to listent to the (*$& game! If you really really want to see the game, then go see it. It was one of those 'God and Mammon' moments. I personally don't think the Almighty hates football. However, we are talking about a time and a place, fercryinoutloud. Render unto Ceasar, etc.

The selling of sex makes the 'models' no less slutty because they are being paid to do this...and there is obviously either enough money or an abysmal lack of taste and pride that people are willing to put themselves on display like that.

Posted by: Cricket at February 2, 2009 09:04 AM

I think people ought to be able to do and watch what they want in the privacy of their own homes. They aren't bothering me one bit and it is absolutely none of my business what they do, nor do I care :p

Where I do start to care is when I have to see it too; when any attempt to ask for even the mildest restraints is blown into some ridiculous slippery slope argument that just doesn't pass the common sense test.

There are 200+ channels on my TV set.

Somehow, I think keeping the few network channels fairly family friendly during prime time isn't going to send us back to the dark ages when womyn were chained to their Easy Bake Ovens instead of being allowed to indulge their beautiful and completely understandable and mainstream desires to have their breasts surgically inflated and slide up and down a stripper pole in front of my grandchildren in my living room :p

Posted by: Cassandra at February 2, 2009 09:24 AM

Why is everyone offended by ads that address such a serious issue? Surely a cure for impotence such as Butea Superba found at www.healthyed.co.uk is something we should all be talking about whether we suffer or not. The more in the open these taboo subjects become the less taboo they are.

Posted by: steve at February 3, 2009 06:25 AM

I don't mind advertising for Viagra. In fact, I think it's a good thing.

I just don't think it belongs on the air during the Superbowl. But then I don't want to see ads for yeast infection cures air during the Superbowl, either.

Air these ads during a time when families with small children are not likely to be watching. If people let their kids watch TV at 10:30 at night, that's their lookout - just leave a space where they can be reasonably assured their sensibilities won't be raped by inappropriate fare.

Posted by: Cass at February 3, 2009 06:56 AM

What can we do? As mentioned at Grim's hall, we can TiVo the game and take out the ads.

Makes me think there would be a market for an Internet "Family Friendly" Super Bowl, which would broadcast the game in real-time, but switch to alternative commercials.

The desire is to have a public, or at least semi-public place, where you don't get sex crap shoved down your throat. We basically don't have the freedom to create such a place.

Also, corporations should be getting socked with a 100% tax on ad expense -- whatever they pay NBC to show an ad, they pay the gov't.
Advertising is moral pollution. One of the better ways to reduce pollution is to tax it more heavily (and reduce the deficit).

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 3, 2009 04:59 PM