14 July 2010

More broad-brush sweeping by the PTC

I have pointed out in previous posts that the Parents Television Council, an organization that advocates cable channel choice, has based its campaign on broad-brush generalizations of cable channels simply because the channel has one offensive show (usually on a late 10PM or later slot):
- In 2008, the PTC recommended "every parent who receives BBC America to look into blocking the channel" because BBC America showed the British drama Skins, which was rated TV-MA and shown at 9PM or later slots generally. However, PTC never addressed other program[me]s on the BBC America network (of course these all being UK-produced shows) that would not be seen as corrupting to youth such as Top Gear, Cash in the Attic, and World News America.
- PTC is no fan of FX's original late primetime shows. Go do a Google search for the following shows: Nip/Tuck, The Shield, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rescue Me, or Louie on the PTC website parentstv.org by adding "site:parentstv.org" (sans the quotations) on a search engine. PTC has plenty of bad things to say about those shows with its usual "your subscription to basic cable helps pay for these smutty shows" line. However, in 2008 and this year FX showed the 2006 film Invincible during primetime...and PTC turned a blind eye (I don't know if it's on purpose in an anti-FX agenda or something) despite having awarded Invincible with its Seal of Approval when the film originally was released to theatres. In 2008 the day before Invincible, FX showed Radio during primetime; PTC awarded that film with the Seal of Approval but never pointed out that FX broadcast Radio.
- This year, PTC seems to be hoping that TBS sinks down under, as it warned families that they would soon be subsidizing Conan O'Brien's next show on TBS with their basic cable subscriptions and named the new TBS animated sitcom Neighbors from Hell the worst cable content of the week last month. I have seen instances where PTC has listed TBS reruns of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond in Email alerts. But things change, and so do attitudes.

Now, PTC founder Brent Bozell's latest column "Art in America" provides a sneak peek of the PTC's next "Worst Cable Content" column.

The Bravo cable network has a new reality show called “Work of Art,” a competition dedicated to finding the next great American artist.

The half-dozen contestants, 20-something aspiring artists all, enter the famous Phillips de Pury art auction house. Mr. de Pury himself ushers them into the special room where they are presented with a collection of paintings by Andres Serrano, the man who came to fame in 1989 with the ghastly photograph, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts, depicting a crucifix dunked in a jar of urine. They are hugely impressed. The final painting they are shown is just that — the original "Piss Christ." They are in awe, quietly expressing their amazement at the talent. And then the door opens and in steps the master. The students freeze, eyes bright, mouths agape. The curator announces, "the great, great Serrano!" One girl instinctively bows reverently.


And now the contestants are given their assignment: Create a body of art as shocking as that of Serrano. The judges will select the four contestants who will proceed to the next round. More giggles and laughter. Each artist is given a $100 voucher with which to buy supplies.


...a girl, handsomely endowed, takes a batch of pictures of herself wearing only panties. "High art" is how she describes her product. The curator examines her semi-naked pictures, with emphasis on her naked breasts, and deems the display to be "gorgeous." But what the judges would later describe as "brilliant" is her special touch: setting these pictures next to a black felt-tip pen so the gallery audience could scrawl on them whatever graffiti or obscenities they inspire.


There is no outcry because our popular culture is thoroughly rotten.

Wow. Way to provide a generalized bad first impression. Because I can't exactly trust Bozell's opinion column as an unbiased reliable source. The Wikipedia article of the show summarizes other episodes. Three episodes aired before the one that Bozell decries as reflecting America's rotten pop culture:

Episode 1: Self-Reflexive

Air date: June 9, 2010

* Challenge: Create a portrait of one of your fellow artists.

Episode 2: The Shape of Things to Come

Air date: June 16, 2010

* Challenge: Create a sculptural piece from items selected from an electronics graveyard.

Episode 3: Judging a Book By Its Cover

Air date: June 23, 2010

* Challenge: Design a book cover for one of six classic novels, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Dracula, Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and The Time Machine.

So I guess a competition to design book covers for classic novels and create a sculpture from electronic waste threaten traditional values as much as the smutty fourth episode titled "A Shock to the System" (from June 30) that Bozell overanalyzed for all his readers to see. The challenged in the episode that aired the week after that one, "Art That Moves You", is summarized as "[c]reate a work of art based on your Audi experience". By the way, if you still need proof beyond the open-editing Wikipedia, here's the official Bravo show site.

In its "About Us" page Bravo describes itself as "the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980". During the '80s and '90s, Bravo used to have classic films, jazz music, and stage plays as its main lineup of programs. That was before NBC Universal bought the channel in 2002 and converted it to the fashion/hip/urban/reality show channel it is today. IMHO I see Work of Art as a small attempt for Bravo to return to its roots, but apparently what one man calls art is another's garbage, and just one risque episode gives Bravo a bad name once again.

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