Culture Notes


Issue: "Chistendon's Kosher Allies," Feb. 15, 1997

Burger chain gives Rodman the boot

The Carl's Jr. hamburger chain pulled its TV commercials featuring cross-dressing basketball star Dennis Rodman after the Chicago Bulls rebounding leader was fined $200,000 by the NBA for kicking a cameraman in the groin. After receiving some 200 phone calls, e-mail messages, and letters, the company decided that Mr. Rodman did not convey the image they desired for their hamburgers. (The company caved in soon after, however, and ran spots featuring Rodman last Sunday's NBA All-Star game.) In the meantime, Super Bowl champion and Baptist minister Reggie White of the Green Bay Packers began receiving criticism for his practice of leading members of both teams in prayer after games. Critics think kneeling in public prayer is inappropriate. Mr. White replied that he thought the public wanted good role models. The NFL has said that it will not forbid the prayers.

The PG loophole

Two-thirds of the 169 shows on evening TV surveyed are rated TV-PG, according to a study by the Rocky Mountain Media Watch. Only 12 percent, or 21 programs in all, were rated TV-14 (including NYPD Blue, Murphy Brown, and Tales from the Crypt). None was given the most restrictive rating of TV-M. TV-PG itself demands genuine parental scrutiny, more so than the PG rating in movies, but the phenomenon of giving so many different shows the same rating defeats the purpose and highlights the system's vagueness. &quotThe TV-PG rating is a giant loophole," observes Paul Klite of the media watch group. &quotIf the industry gives most programs the same rating, the whole exercise will be meaningless."

Caving in to MTV

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Cable TV company TCI had planned to cancel music video channels MTV and VH-1, citing &quotfamily values" issues (see WORLD, Jan. 11, &quotI don't want my MTV"), as well as the costs of the services. But after rock stars rallied in protest, a 19-year-old gathered 3,000 signatures on a petition, and Viacom--corporate owner of VH-1--sponsored an aggressive campaign complete with full-page newspaper ads and radio spots, TCI caved in. The music channels will stay on, affecting some 100 cable systems and two million homes. &quotThe people who have asked to put it back on are passionate," said TCI official Steve Santamaria, &quotand we're going to listen to them. They like their music."

&quotAll ages" designation on event tickets misleading to parents

Parents trying to supervise the concerts their children go to should not be misled when events are labeled &quotall ages." This notation on tickets and promotional material is not a rating. It means only that alcohol will not be sold, allowing promoters to admit everyone who buys a ticket, no matter how depraved the show. The confusion came to a head with the &quotall ages" designation of Marilyn Manson concerts. The very worst of a bad lot, Mr. Manson exposes himself on stage, cuts himself with glass, simulates sex, and rips up a Bible to the screaming cheers of his fans. Children under 16 are not allowed to buy his album Antichrist Superstar with its label &quotParental Advisory: Explicit Content." But they can go to his concert. &quotThere is no law that says we have to restrict the age of this concert," one promoter pointed out. In the absence of a rating system for live concerts, parents need to be aware of the current music scene. And they must not be conned by an &quotall ages" designation.


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