Read Chapter 11 in Real World Media Ethics. On pages 235 and 236, answer no less than 4 bullet point questions under “You Decide”.
What errors have you spotted in television shows you watch? Be as specific as you can. Were they really errors or do you think a Broadcast Standards and Practices executive decided to let something pass? You are a Broadcast Standards and Practices editor making decisions about sexuality. You are very aware that views have changed over the years. Using the *E*T*H*I*C*S rubric, how would you handle the following situations involving sexual matters? What kinds of information would you need to know in order to make an informed decision, a decision that supports strong ethical values?
• How much on-camera sexual activity do you accept at different times of the day?
How long do you allow an on-screen kiss to last and how much tongue activity, if any, do you accept? •
Do you accept a shot of a naked side-breast or partially naked butt (male or female) at different times of the day?
• Full-frontal male nudity in Shameless , a popular Channel 4 show in England and on Showtime in the United States, is acceptable, while full-frontal male or female nudity cannot pass muster in the United States, even on basic cable. Censors need to be aware of cultural differences as many programs have a profitable life abroad, as discussed in the chapter on globalization. There seems to be a cultural difference between what one country will accept or tolerate in terms of sexual content versus what another country finds objectionable. How do you handle this matter?
• Advisories warn potential viewers that a program contains violence or sexual content. Most advertisers and affiliates don’t like advisories. Also, stations have to be advised well in advance if a program is to carry an advisory and this requirement makes scheduling difficult. When do you think you should advocate putting an advisory on a program? Think of a particular program when you answer this question.
• Television and streaming outlets seek younger viewers who are reported to seek edgier (read sexier) fare. As a censor, do you allow greater sexual activity to please potential viewers or do you keep a lid on sexual content to appease wary advertisers? Or have the times changed what with every show seemingly having a gay character and transgender characters becoming mainstream?
A producer is planning to film a love scene between two men, precisely the kind of scene that creates terror in the minds of advertisers and affiliates. This was the situation I faced when I was a network censor at ABC for the mini-series The Richest Man in the World: The Aristotle Onassis Story (1988). What would you do in such a situation?
• Do you think a network censor can justify greater sexual activity in an afternoon soap opera than in a prime-time program? Do you think that viewers (mostly women) who watch alone in the afternoons without their families present are more tolerant of sexual activity?
• Can the intensity of a love (sex) scene be reduced by lessening the sound effects? Or, conversely, can the suggestion of sexual activity that is taking place off-camera be intensified with sound effects, as was reportedly the case when off-camera sound effects suggested that oral sex was taking place in Fox’s hit Joe Millionaire in 2003?
• In 1993, would you allow in a television movie, Not in My Family , about a woman who remembers that she was sexually abused by her father as a child, dialogue that indicated that part of the woman’s guilt was that she felt some pleasure while she was being abused?
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