My Blog Week: June 27 to July 3
Last week, I had both internet outage troubles, and too many projects going at once troubles, and so I missed My Blog Week. But I had the basic post mapped out, and the cartoon ready to go…
So this week, a double, with two cartoons, and links to all the posts.
A Word on the Week
Introduction to the Premise
Jerry Falwell, Jr., the evangelist exposed in a third-party marriage arrangement last August, is an apparent hypocrite. Possibly, a foundation somewhere in the world was shaken to learn it. The known takes were either pure comedic sport, or Why Nothing Will Change. From the left, because evangelists are all about money and power; from the right, because nothing should change, Falwell empire-wise, as the fall into sin is the human condition, and we must pray.
Tipper Gore’s 80s campaign against dirty songs, spurred by her reaction to Prince’s Purple Rain and 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be, led to badges of honor, otherwise parental advisory stickers, on CDs, LPs and cassettes. I remember reading, probably in Entertainment Weekly (which I used to read), that rappers came to covet the PAL (Parental Advisory Label); that a sticker was a minimum for being taken seriously by peers and fans. And the same, I would think, with comedy albums.
Time and streaming has changed the value of PAL censorship, now that many music purchasers never touch a physical record. There are parental controls for the internet, but these still require exercising an odd conversance with offensive songs or images. The logistics of chaste media have never been in sync with logic. Here, for a start, is an unexamined premise: that bad language or graphically described sex and violence corrupt…in childhood. And that they corrupt by themselves, somehow with a greater strength than counterable by good example and frank discussion. What the role of the parent is meant to be, if the parent can’t overcome random externals with love, wisdom, and presence, ends up looking a little fuzzy.
While, at some point after the transition from childhood to adulthood, the bad things cease to corrupt. A parent could be supposed to divide the world between the corrupted and the pure, to mold herself into a pure exemplar, keeping her child, though corruptible, safe—so long as the child is exposed to only one kind of thinking. But if the F-bomb can alter mentality in a negative way, isn’t the stronger approach conversation, not a superstitious avoidance?
Then, how would this talk go? “Men and women who are over the age of eighteen, and feel a certain way about each other, will sometimes lay an “F” on their partner, sometimes rip out an “A”, or even throw down an “MF”…also at times, a “C”, though this is more frequent in British usage… When the time is right to swear, God will guide you.”
But jokes aside, only one principle seems reasonable:
People are different, and when you meet people you don’t know, you hold yourself to a standard, so as not to harm someone. That’s because we want to be decent and kind humans, and all sorts of things—swearing, dirty talk, violent ideation, any number of isms, do actually hurt people. When you know friends well enough, you can harmlessly fall into habits with them. When you address the general public on a general basis, the denominator can be lowered, because the rules of creativity allow it. If you grow up to be an artist, you can work blue, because you and the audience are party to a cultural contract, with responsibilities on both sides. With individuals—at school, at work, at church, sports, relatives’ homes—the contract is social, and the denominator is higher.
At any rate, the PMRC didn’t have the influence to stop rap. The problem with larding the world with “rebellious” dirtiness and violence, is as said: that where power is unequally held, dirtiness and violence do harm, and many of those harmed are so powerless they keep silent, leaving ground for a false narrative to grow.
It becomes another dilettantish indulgence of the powerholders to imagine a Church Lady-like prude, who would prevent them from having fun—if they weren’t just so naughty.
As with the PMRC scenario, laughed at and ignored widely (like Falwell), complied with winkingly by the music industry that gained a shorthand for “cool” while losing little…Walmart would not carry labeled records, for example, but record companies put out both original and cleaned up versions, so few artists ended up with career damage (rappers more than mainstream), while a curiosity for “real lyrics” added a market that hadn’t existed.
A similar effect has occurred with movies, as described below:
Some studies have indicated that the MPAA’s age-based ratings may attract the very audiences they are designed to protect. The National Television Violence Study (NTVS) evaluated the effect of various rating systems on young people’s media choices. (Center for Communication and Social Policy, 1996–1998) The NTVS found that the MPAA system’s ratings of “PG-13” and “R” increase young people’s desire to view media content that has been given those labels. (Cantor, 1997: 285-6; Federman, 1997: 35) In the study, children ages 5–14 were given a programming guide and instructed to select one of three programs or movies described on each page. The children were told that the guides were “ballots” for a vote to select television shows they would later watch. The various programs and movies in the guides were randomly assigned MPAA ratings, premium television ratings, and a variety of parental and viewer advisories. The findings revealed that among children ages 10–14, and especially among boys in this age group, the ratings of “PG-13” and “R” made a movie more attractive and the rating of “G” reduced its attractiveness. For example, boys age 10–14 completely avoided a movie when they thought it was rated “G”, but at least half of them chose to watch it when it was rated “PG-13” or “R.” The study also found that more aggressive younger children were more interested in movies that had restrictive ratings. (Cantor, 1997: 291; Federman, 1997: 36)
Joel Federman, PhD
It is not believable that Falwell and his ilk have power over significant numbers of lives, to control and curtail them (especially the lives of those who cite Christian evangelists as hypocrites, etc.; who give themselves the difficult task of being in thrall to what they hold in scorn). If there is no controlling quality to the imaginary prude (in hard-right Christian guise this time), then genuine rebellion can’t exist. The impulse to be “in-the-face” of a person, designated through alchemy an enemy, could be fair only where freedom of action is being prevented.
When we can have the conversation, buy the record, see the movie, what’s the justification for hitting at anyone? The self-perceived victims turn into the aggressors, as the Fox pundits who find credible actions like discontinuing racist Dr. Suess books no one has been reading, “cancel culture”.
But, being good humans, let’s acknowledge that disliking evangelists shouldn’t mean seeking opportunities to taunt or do (or fantasize doing) harm to them.
On Monday, a new Yoharie, with Yoharie himself making plans to travel. Tuesday, a new The Sword Decides!, and the subtle jostle for power among a King’s courtiers. Wednesday, Shine!, in which Annie settles on the most appealing possibility. Thursday, Hammersmith, Aimee and Hogben receiving astonishing news. Friday, “Bad Counsel”, Andrée’s apathy making her vulnerable to a scheme. Friday, a reissue from Rattus, “Investigation”.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: June 27 to July 3
My Blog Week: June 20 to June 26