Let’s Hear It for the Freaking FCCPosted: June 25, 2012
Recently the FCC got slapped, although not spanked (and certainly not tied up and paddled on primetime television) by the Supreme Court. Well, yippee. I know I should be more excited by this, especially considering my vast love for the First Amendment in all its forms, but the truth is this ruling was about as mamby-pamby as any I’ve ever heard out of the Supreme Court, which considering it was a unanimous ruling in a strongly divided court isn’t much of a surprise. Still, at least we got a little something, which is to say a small shred of common sense in government: hey look, you can’t just decide post facto that something is indecent and levy fines here but not there for the same activity.
But why shouldn’t we be grateful for the FCC? I mean, after all, won’t somebody please think of the children? If it weren’t for the FCC, public television might look more like cable, what with the sex, violence, and bad language. And we all know nobody actually wants to watch shows like The Sopranos, Sex in the City, True Blood, or anything like that. And even if there were a few sick bastards out there who did, the rest of us would be helpless in the face of their Vast Media Empire. It’s not like we could, I dunno:
- change the channel
- turn the TV off
- go read a book
- play outside
- go for a walk
- build a model
- play a board game
- call a friend
- go to the theater
- look at lolcatz on the interwebs
- read a blog
So yeah, we’re pretty much stuck looking at the same handful of channels, making sure we all have the same culture. One might even call it “popular culture.” Not because it’s all that popular, but just because everyone is familiar with it, and because it appeals to the lowest common denominator, and it never challenges us. If we didn’t have that, if our entertainment somehow became fractured, we might not all have the same basic outlook on things, and what would that do to our society? Our politics? Our country?
We might all start finding things that appeal to our deepest beliefs rather than the muddy middle, and then we’d have to go one of two ways. The one would be a cultural and political revolution, but in a good way: we would have to honestly start to engage with one another, and stop pretending that father knows best, admit eight isn’t enough, and we just can’t leave it to beaver. We would need to go to a place where everybody doesn’t know your name, and start to lean each other’s’ names, as well as each other’s hopes and dreams and deepest beliefs. Then we would need to work out our conflicts in a meaningful way, and not just try to force our own ideas of what’s right and wrong on each other, either through blatantly through the political machine or subtly through the mass media.
The other would be a disaster: some sort of bipolar system in which we become horribly polarized, swinging back and forth politically and socially until the entire system cracks apart from the stress because we keep talking past each other instead of talking to each other. But that could never happen, right?