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Thursday January 06, 2005

Shame on the lawsuit happy

The ever more endearing Gutless Pacifist posted today about a Cleveland man suing NBC for airing an episode of Fear Factor that he found particluarly distasteful. From Yahoo! News:

Watching contestants eat dead rats on NBC's gross-out stunt show "Fear Factor" so disgusted a Cleveland man that he has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach what he saw.

Despite what the Nileson ratings suggest, I'd like to believe that most reasonable people agree gross-out reality shows represent the worst of television programming (with the possible exception of the O'Reilly Factor). Even those who indulge in the occasional Surreal Life episode or Apprentice finale probably won't dispute the lowbrow nature of worm eating contests. And as a rat owner myself, I take issue with the Fear Factor's dispicable use of rats.

The plaintiff in this case has more in common with me than my hometown. I share his digust with Fear Factor in particular, and would like to see these shows off the air. But this is where our similarities end. When I discover a television show or radio personality I hate, a lawsuit is the furthest thing from my mind. Unlike this Cleveland man, I've chosen to take responsibility of my viewing habits.

(Religious Righters might want to stop reading now... I wouldn't want to cause a stroke, or anything).

My remote control has many buttons, and I use them regularly. When I stumble upon shows like Fear Factor, Jerry Springer, Who Wants to Marry My Three-Headed She-Male Uncle/Cousin (or whatever FOX is throwing out there these days) I switch to Discovery. Or even Animal Planet. It's really that simple.

I don't feel the need to force every television channel and radio station to cater to my personal tastes. When I find vulgarity, I turn it off. There's always good programming opposite Rush Limbaugh, anyway. And when I can't find anything that complies with my standards of decency, I look for a different activity altogether. I read, or paint, or play with my rats. I don't give people like Limbaugh, Trump, O'Reilly, or Hilton the attention they so don't deserve. Even in court.

Suing over a TV show suggest both a lack of common sense and a frighteningly authoritarian approach to citizenship. Reasonable, freedom-loving people don't say to themselves, "Even though nobody is forcing me to watch it, I demand the network removes this horrible show so nobody else can watch it either!"

With lawsuits like these, it's not hard to imagine why the rest of the world thinks Americans are idiots. Some of us really are.

I sincerely hope that such lawsuit-happy Americans (or is it censor-happy Americans?) adopt a truly conservative approach to the media in the future. (WTF? Did she just say conservative?!) Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. We should be more conservative, according to the proper definition of the word (and not the modern version adopted by today's neocons), and take responsibility for ourselves. Don't like Fear Factor? Turn it off. Bothered by Pat Robertson? Stop watching. Offended by Janet Jackson's nipple? Find a hobby.

Just don't pretend you have the right to decide for anyone else what they are, or are not allowed, to watch. To each his own. And if that means some other people get to watch Temptation Mania, so be it. I'll be learning about the chemisty of yogurt from the Food Network while those losers' brains evaporate, neuron by neuron. And when we finally adopt a more reasonable approach to media censorship, we'll all be much happier.

The legislative branch most especially, I'm sure.


Amen to that! I only watch Fear Factor when the celebrities are on. I need to see how wimpy they really are. I would take Discovery, A&E; and TLC over those channels any day.

LizU on January 7, 2005 12:34 AM

Amen, sister. My mom watches Fear Factor like it's her religion. I hate that freaking show. Usually, I try and get her out of the house during it... otherwise I'm out of the house.

Erin on January 7, 2005 01:06 AM

Well said...

Bro on January 7, 2005 09:21 AM

i agree. what really kills me about that guy is that he regularly watches the show! so there was no way he was caught by surprise, he knew what was coming.

you're right, some of us americans really are idiots. i can't blame the rest of the world for their opinions of us.

geeky on January 7, 2005 12:03 PM

Well put, Drina, although I do see why people would want to complain about Janet's nipple (not sue, just complain). People have a certain expectation of what they are going to see when they watch the Super Bowl. But certainly people should have an expectation that they're going to see garbage when they watch Fear Factor.

Joan on January 9, 2005 12:11 AM

Joan, I agree that there's nothing wrong with complaining, or even a good old fashioned boycott. But bringing the government in to enforce one's personal philosophy on the media (or on anyone else) is extreme, and it has nothing to do with morality, only authoritarianism.

As for Ms. Jackson, I thought the show was in poor taste, but I certainly don't believe that seeing a breast will drive children to satanism by the masses. The outcry after the Superbowl was really just scary.

Drina on January 10, 2005 08:43 PM