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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

I'm OK, You're OK
(and He's OK and She's OK and My Dog's OK and my Cat's OK and...)

by Neena Louise

In my last TV Bites column "A Word from our Sponsors", I ranted about how much I hate current commercials. Then I started wondering just what it was that made current ad spots so ineffective. Now I think I know: Political Correctness.

These days, everyone from TV sponsors to network executives has become super-sensitive about everything from social issues to minority issues to animal rights. The mere hint that someone might find a hidden insult, slur, invitation to danger, or glorification of anti-social behavior buried in there somewhere sends The Suits running for cover. So petrified are they that they may insult someone, somewhere - anywhere - that they've made their shows and ads so innocuous that they're boring.

Some current stupidity:

  • Politically correct terminology keeps changing ("Indian" was changed to "Native American" until they complained that they are "not American", when it was changed to "Native People" or "Indigenous People" or, as many prefer, back to "Indian"; Black was changed to "African American" until they complained that they were not "African", when it was changed back to "Black" or "Of Color"...the list goes on)

  • The hilarious Staples ad that featured a dog wrapped up in Christmas wrapping paper was slammed by animal rights groups because they objected to the idea that a pet could be a present.

  • The hysterically funny ad about a dog - not wanting to take the blame for the cat's garbage-strewing - considers stopping the cat with a meat cleaver and rolling pin before deciding on the Polaroid to catch the cat in the act. Animal rights groups screamed about that one. I guess the reasoning is that any dog that saw that ad would suddenly consider committing kittycide (???).

  • It's not okay to make jokes about fat people (or even breathe the word "fat", though I fail to see what's so derogatory about a simple descriptive word). But it's okay to make fun of thin people.

  • It's not okay to stereotype women. But it's okay to stereotype men.

  • The Big Story about the "whiteness" of today's television. True, there is a lack of minority characters on most television shows, but shows typed as "black" or "ethnic" are terrible! And, no, it's not because the cast is non-white - it's because the shows are just plain bad (observe "City of Angels". Someone please cancel this stinker). Just because you put non-white actors on a show doesn't mean it's guaranteed to boost the image of non-white people and how they feel about themselves. In my opinion, it's more likely to be a way of continuing to perpetuate an "us and them" way of seeing the world. These days, whenever shows do feature non-white characters, their ethnicity is often still so stereotyped that it's embarrassing. Why can't a show be created with minorities depicted as just people who happen to be of ethnic descent, rather than making race an issue? Positive or negative, pointing out anyone's ethnicity only diminishes that person as a PERSON.

I've heard all the fat jokes. I've heard every possible slur - real or imagined - to do with race, gender, disability and whatever else the narrow mind can dream up. I've seen animals depicted as everything from property to presents to stupid pets. I can't say I've been affected - one way or the other - by any of it. Because, you see, the basic moral values my parents instilled in me are far too deeply ingrained to be swayed: live and let live and who am I to judge? No matter what I see on television, nothing - absolutely nothing - can affect that. Television's Powers-That-Be (and parents, for that matter) ought to think about that.

You just can't please everyone. Don't even try. The trick is to air something effective and, if a few in the world are offended, TOUGH! People really need to grow thicker skins and strive to become better people rather than snivel about how television is adversely affecting them. If you're offended by something you've seen on television, well , don't watch it then (DUH). And don't forget: people who go looking for something to be offended about will generally find what they're looking for.

My advice? Forget the Politically Correct nonsense and concentrate on creating something good and not necessarily something that caters to those who think excruciating political correctness guarantees a better class of people.

We would love to know what you think, sound off on the TV message boards and let us know what you think!

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