TV Bites With
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:
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
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.
would love to know what you think, sound off on the
boards and let us know what you think!