Last night, Fox Television aired a one-hour Bill Reilly diatribe called The Corruption of the American Child. I have a few thoughts.
Does anyone else find it ironic that this television show aired on Fox, which is presently warping the minds of young adolescent men with a show about a man who has 15 women at once vying for his hand in marriage? (It doesn’t work this way, boys. If you can find one wonderful woman to pursue you with such an intent, you’re a damned fortunate man.)
Does anyone else find it inappropriate that a show moralizing about the horrors of mass media provided hundreds of visual references to what O’Reilly considers to be the worst of it?
Did anyone else cringe when Opie and Anthony appeared as guests?* Had O’Reilly wanted a real debate, he would have gotten the real McCoy.
Generally, I disagree with O’Reilly’s hypothesis. Violence isn’t just rampant in our fictional media, it exists in our news media because it exists in our world. In these post 9/11 days, and in days when violence in Israel doesn’t even take a holiday for Pesach, it seems naive to crusade against the Insane Clown Posse. And the problem is not the appearance of sex in the media, it is American unhealthy Puritanical attitudes toward human sexuality in general. The fact that we’re supposed to avert our eyes contributes to the obsessive and sometimes destructive horniness of American culture. Besides, to chastise Hollywood like this is to do so in a vacuum—American mass media still produces a lot that is appropriate and healthy for children.
I have to say, though, I loved having the opportunity to throw rotten tomatoes at the ACLU lawyer, who took the bizarre and extreme position that a national group is entitled by the First Amendment to espouse sex with children. Wow, when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.
It was an interesting little show, but being a tiny cog in the machine of media, I will always cringe a little when the accusations come at us. It’s easy to blame the media for our social ills and far more difficult to examine the social, governmental, and economic causes. It has always been thus and shall always be.
*I am not a fan of Opie and Anthony. From what I know of these two, they have distilled only the most prurient aspects of the Howard Stern Radio Show for their own use. Casual listeners should not place Howard in the same class as these two morons.