Jonah Goldberg in an article about shifting values and television content:

Marc Cherry, the creator of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, told an interesting story to a gathering of TV critics recently. Cherry had screened a scene for a network censor in which the character played by Eva Longoria beds her 17-year-old gardener. Afterward, she enjoys a post-coital cigarette. Cherry said the censor asked, “Does she have to smoke?” To which Cherry replied: “So you’re good with the statutory rape thing?”


Terrence McCarthy

8:59 AM

Interesting essay. In the middle of which is an ad for John Steinbeck's novels. Steinbeck once said " Unless a critic has the courage to give you unqualified praise, I say ignore the bastard. " And if we get our slips in a knot every time we see or read about scandalous behavior, we'd avoid the works of D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, etc. To smoke after sex, or not to smoke after sex. That isn't the question. But neither is what these characters did before she lit up. If people don't want that image in their heads, there are 56 ( at least ) other channels to turn to.


12:25 PM

By that logic the networks could make anything available to anyone at any time. Hard core porn in prime time?

As Goldberg says in the essay, society accepts some censorship, it is all just a matter of degree. And he is simply pointing out that degrees have changed, and now it is more acceptable to show child rape in prime time than it is to show the legal activity of smoking cigarettes.

Re Steinbeck, although he was obviously a great writer, if we'd listened to him, we'd be living under the iron hand of communism now, so I'm not sure he's the best person to consider when thinking about societal values.

Terrence McCarthy

12:57 PM

I wouldn't have considered Steinbeck had it not been for the ad in the middle of the essay to which you linked us. In that sense, you brought him up. I was going to turn you on to Springsteen's CD " The Ghost of Tom Joad, but I'll think twice before doing that I guess. And as far as logic is concerned, I tend to lean more toward the magical than the logical. Probably the Irishman in me.


2:07 PM

I have to admit that Springsteen comparing today's poor and disenfranchised to Tom Joad makes me ill. It's kind of like the Kerry campaign saying that the 2004 economy was the worst since the depression. It's just so out of the realm of reality that the only appropriate response is some kind of understated groan. All made more silly and ridiculous from a guy (Springsteen) who is in the top .00001 percent of the world's rich.

The fact is that by world standards the "poor" in America are stunningly rich. I read recently that on a PPP basis, almost half of all Europeans would be considered "poor" if they were Americans. And Europe is supposedly part of the First World. I hire Indians at $2.50 an hour, putting them in the top 1% of income earners in that country. If Springsteen and his ilk had their way, I would be kept from hiring those kids at "such low wages" and they would now be where the other 90% of Indians are, working as subsistence farmers at a dollar a day.

The problem with America is that because so few people have actually gone out into the world, they have virtually no understanding of how rich and advantaged they are. When American rock stars write emotional "odes" to America's poor from their New Jersey mansions, they have little context to understand what poverty is and, as a result, trivialize real need where it does exist. We have millions of truly poor people clamoring to get into this country to make a minimum wage that by world standards makes people solidly middle class. Yet the Springsteen types advocate policies that would clearly slow economic growth, reduce incomes and increase poverty - if only to make them feel better as they sit in their mansions examining their navels. Giving credence to his scribbled lyrics is to aid such ignorance.

Sorry to be so harsh, but I've seen real poverty and it makes me nuts when Americans whine about it here. More Americans should head over to India and Africa before they write "odes" to anyone.

Terrence McCarthy

2:27 PM

It's hard to argue with any of that. Your points are well taken, and are based on your experience. At the risk of sounding like I'm patronizing ( That is not my intent ), your response was well written and quite thought provoking. And jeez. If that's what you think of The Boss, I can't begin to imagine what you thought of John Mellencamp's recent appearance on Charlie Rose's show. Even I thought Mellencamp's ideas bordered on insanity. And I'm a freakin' Springsteen fan. I know, I know. I suggested in an earlier comment that you try to stop thinking about Rose. Sorry about that. It's like that book, " Don't think of an Elephant. " When you hear that, you just can't get the damn things off your mind.


8:13 AM

you go Jake, you give it to Mr McCarthy. For years I've been having similar exchanges with him. There was a story on the "continuing poverty in America" in, I think, Time magazine- must have seen it while waiting for the dentist or something since I can't imagine buying that once worthwhile, now vapid magazine lite. Anyway the poor people being interviewed in their houses; they were well-dressed, some, of course had their cell phones clipped to their belts and behind them in the walls The AC units. Man this is even so different than what we saw 40 years ago when there were really poor people in this country. And please don't get me started on the self-absorbed narcissists of the entertainment world..I used to guffaw thinking of Mick Jagger advocating taking on The Man as a street fightin' man, thirty years ago, or any of the other pampered celebrities. As if they wouldn't be immediately incapacitated by the vapors if faced by a real revolution that inconvenienced their hedonism. Oh, I could go on and on....

Terrence McCarthy

10:07 AM

Oh oh, Jake and Terrance vs ( poor, poor ) pitable me. TC's right, Jake. We've been going at it for years and we agree to disagree a lot and remain friends. And, as you base your opinions on experience, so too does TC. When he talks about the celebrity culture, he knows what he's talking about. Oh the stories ( all true ) he tells of his days in L.A.

And one more thing, Jake. You have one of the more unique blog marketing niches: All of those who comment answer to the name: Terry.

How do you do that?