Ever since Nipplegate (the fiasco at the Super Bowl when Janet Jackson flashed a breast to a rather large TV audience), the TV networks have been a little apprehensive about violating FCC"decency standards." Well, today of all days, on the occasion of Veteran's Day, comes this report from the NY Daily News. Richard Huff tells us in his article,"Fear over 'Private' Parts," that, tonight,"a handful of ABC affiliates will not air Steven Spielberg's critically acclaimed war film"—"Saving Private Ryan."
The film is one of my favorite war films; fortunately, I live in New York City, where we, apparently, have no decency standards, so I won't have to deal with this censorial travesty. But Raymond Cole, president of ABC's affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, remarks:"We regret that we are not able to broadcast a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces like 'Saving Private Ryan.'" Cole
cited concerns that the film would not meet the Federal Communications Commission's decency standards."Can a movie with an 'M' rating, however prestigious the production or poignant the subject matter, be shown before 10p.m.?" Cole asked."With the current FCC, we just don't know." ... Station managers are concerned that the FCC, which has stepped up its indecency investigations after Janet Jackson's breast was bared during the Feb. 1 Super Bowl, will go after"Saving Private Ryan," as well.
Since the movie has"many intense battle scenes" (that opening sequence is, in my view, one of the most harrowing battle sequences ever filmed), and much frank language, all the viewer warnings in the world won't quell the anxieties of some of the affiliates in this post-Nipplegate atmosphere. Initially, back in June 2002, the FCC"found no problems" with the film; but that was a different time, even if it had come just a few months after John Ashcroft spent $8,000 in taxpayer funds to cover the breasts of the Statue of Justice.
The Parents Television Council assures us that it won't file a complaint against the"Ryan" telecast, but ABC is still going to double"the number of on-air warnings about the movie's content"—in those markets where the film is actually shown.
I have only one response to all this: FUBAR.