Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This Is Art?

In an earlier post I spoke on the entertainment industry. Since there is minimal control over the content of what it produces (either external or internal controls), the quality of their product leaves a lot to be desired in the area of decency. They resist any form of censorship because what they are doing is “art” and free expression is essential.

Calling TV programs and movies “art” is a stretch, in my opinion. They are artistic in some ways, but when they contain graphic sex, violence, drug use, horror, “disturbing images,” foul language, and nudity, they cease being art. They become a form of pornography, with the goal to titillate, scare, shock, or otherwise cause an audience reaction that is not good.

Now I admit that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I believe free expression in public media should be somewhat controlled (preferably self-controlled). The Constitution guarantees free expression so citizens can freely protest against the government without fear of censorship or other limitations or penalties. Free expression has now been carried to ridiculous extremes so that any kind of garbage can be put on the market and called entertainment, art, whatever, supposedly protected by the Constitution.

Much as I don’t particularly favor censorship, I believe we have gone too far in the area of “free expression.” The entertainment industry does not self-police because they have no incentive to do so. We need to do something that gives them an incentive. We have to, since some music lyrics are appalling (kill the cops, women are whores, etc.), some electronic games have graphic sex and violence, some movies are just plain awful, and much of TV continues to be a vast wasteland of mediocrity. Decades ago Newton Minnow, head of the FCC at the time, I believe, called TV a “vast wasteland.” And that was during TV’s “Golden Age!” Can you imagine what he would think today!?

Those who want more decency should not support those movies and other products that are worse than PG-13 (or the equivalent). We also shouldn’t support movies or other entertainment that are PG-13 or better but have content that we find inappropriate, such as ridiculing people of faith, for example. Let’s impact the entertainment industry where it counts – in the pocketbook. Who knows? We might begin to see better quality and more decency in its products. We can hope!

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