Will Jack Bauer Be Censored?

Fans of 24 know that when the country is in jeopardy, Jack Bauer will do whatever it takes to save the day. The hero tortures enemies of the state as often as President Bush mangles the English language. But if the FCC has its way, everyone’s favorite CTU agent may soon go soft, and gorefests such as CSI and CRIMINAL MINDS may find themselves having to take a “less is more” approach to violence. The FCC – which already regulates profanities and sexual content on the airwaves — is petitioning Congress for the authority to levy fines against networks which air programs deemed overly violent. Apparently, the squeaky wheel – aka parents who refuse to take responsibility for their children’s viewing habits, as well as people who want to control not only what they watch but what you watch as well – may just get the grease after all.

Speaking to the folks at The Hollywood Reporter, Jonathan Rintels, executive director of the Center For Creative Voices In Media, raised several valid points. “What this is is government control of creative content, and we have a real problem with that. Will it count on news or reality programming? What about sports? In hockey, will it count when the gloves come off? How about documentaries? Or will it only count on scripted TV?”

But as the people whom this would most directly impact, we at theTVaddict.com are curious to know what you think. Remember, this isn’t necessarily a question of whether or not some shows have gotten too violent, but rather whether or not the government should decide what viewers can and can not see. Is it the government’s responsibility to “protect” us from violent programming, or should people be allowed the freedom to choose to watch – or not watch – what they want? Is this an example of proactive government or censorship? We know you’ve got opinions… so let’s hear ‘em!

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  • Common Sense

    I was absolutely appalled to see the torture (i.e. drill scene) last week on 24. This show has gone FAR OVER THE LINE, even giving evil-doers ideas to copy. Really, who needs to see this crap?

    If the FCC brings on censorship for violence, FOX has only itself to blame, with its over-the-top grab for sensationalism and ratings. Go away, Jack. Your day is OVER.

  • http://www.thetvaddict.com thetvaddict

    Common Sense — But the beauty of a democratic country is that you don’t have to watch 24, simply change the channel.

    Do we really need the government — who probably should focusing its attention on more important matters (see: Iraq) — protecting us from violence on TV.

    What about Izzie’s drill scene on GREY’S… should that have been cut?

  • Laura

    This is stupid!! It should not be up to the government what it shown/not shown. If parents are stupid enough to not have parental controls or make sure their kids are watching appropriate shows then that is their fault not the networks’!

    The violence stuff on TV is usually necessary for the show. Most people know that it is just TV and it is pretend!

  • BearDogg-X

    The FCC is obviously telling the morons in Congress what they want to hear, as their daft draft is packed full of lies and fear-mongering.

    Where is this supposed “evidence that violent media content can impact kids behavior”? The same evidence that’s been so throughly rejected by the federal circuit courts, rejecting attempts in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Washington state, Illinois, Michigan, California, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Oklahoma over the past five years to restrict the sales of “violent” video games to minors?

    The rulings against Louisiana and Oklahoma in particular will derail the FCC’s attempt to regulate violence on TV, as those two states attempted to add violence to the Supreme Court definition of obscenity, which is presumably what the FCC and Congress is attempting here.

    A poster at gamepolitics.com posted some excerpts from the book “Saturday Morning Fever” by Timothy and Kevin Burke, basically the history of children’s programming.

    “Once again, though, the critique of violence in kidvid merely shows the odd durability of that peculiar Victorian invention: the innocent child. The same old moony rose-tinted fantasizing about some past golden age is at play again; whenever people moan about kids are more and more violent these days, they’re usually hallucinating about the lost world of peaceful nuclear families living in the sububs. Never mind that the era immediately preceding the introduction of television – The Great Depression – was one of the peak periods of violent crime in twentieth century America. Never mind, as James Morrow points out, ‘The night he shot Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth had not been watching television.’”

    Here’s what the Burkes said about all those studies on TV causing “aggression.”:

    “The experts are generally silent just why the vaguely defined idea of ‘aggression’ (or its even vaguer partner ‘antisocial behavior’) is a bad thing. Experts lack precision not only in their labeling of particular cartoon incidents as violent, but also in their presumptions about aggression, particularly among preschoolers. Even if we were to concede the ‘violence’ of Satuday morning to the experts (and we don’t), we still think that they – and their political allies – have failed to explain EXACTLY what worries them about its consequences, EXACTLY what is wrong with ‘aggression’ or ‘antisocial behavior’, or for that matter EXACTLY what violence is. The don’t because they can’t. They don’t because to do so is to expose the arbitrary way they exclude (and thus sanctify) some forms of ‘legitimate’ violence.

    Violence and agression have – at least potentially – creative and socially constructive sides. Understanding and interpreting violence is a crucial objective for any child. If Saturday morning has shown something about the uses and prevalence of violence in daily life, then it is a mark in its favor rather than an indictment against it. Most of those we’ve criticized in this book probably also accept and support some social uses of violence – war, imprisonment and self-defense, for starters. They just can’t admit this fact and instead contsruct a straw man of “cartoon violence” (or more broadly, televisual violence).”

    I use the book “Foley Is Good And The Real World Is Faker Than Wrestling” by semi-retired WWE wrestler Mick Foley as a reference. “as one reporter asks, do these studies ‘prove that such shows make people aggressive, or rather that aggressive types are attracted to entertainment matching their temperament?’ These studies also explain why the crime rate in Canada is so much lower than the United States, when their television viewing habts are almost identical. These studies also don’t explain the marked contrast in violence between the United States and Japan.”

  • Sam

    I don’t mind it because it wasn’t like it was done needlessly or in a tasteless manner. I find it funny what we choose to censor when theres much worse out there we need to be worrying about or could/should be censoring. (ie-what tvaddict said, lol)

  • Courtney

    I definitely don’t think that the government shouldn’t get involved to this extent. Do I think that tv shows should be showing the type of violence seen in movies like Hostel and Saw? No, but I don’t think that we’re at that point quite yet. And would this stop at censoring violence? Would Friday Night Lights be censored because of underage drinking? Heroes & drug use? just about anything on the CW & minors having sex?

    If you think that tv shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, and 24 are too violent for kids, don’t let your kids watch them. If they are too violent for you, turn off the tv.

    For an interesting look at a similar topic, watch the documentary “This film is not yet rated”

  • John

    I don’t watch 24, but I am very opposed to the FCC (or any other government agency) regulating content, whether it be for violence or language.

    The FCC should stick to regulating technical matters like frequencies and broadcast technical specifications.

  • tdot

    Are we getting a podcast this week!?!?

  • Jane

    I love 24 but just today my friend and I were commenting that it is getting too violent and gross. It is sad when I must fast forward through scenes but the violence is so excessive.

    Our culture’s appetite for violence is something which should concern all of us.

  • turkelton

    the fcc can suck it. ill watch what i want to damn it.

  • http://www.simplykimberly.com Simply Kimberly

    The FCC is wrong. We all have the power to not view something via our remote controls.

    If it offends you, change the channel. I am happy seeing Jack put the pain on the bad guys and gals.

    Leave Jack Bauer alone! Why must the bureautwits always screw with him?

  • marmalade

    The FCC needs to have it drilled into their heads: leave our programs alone!

  • Linda B.

    Things like this are the reason great shows go to cable. Pretty soon they’ll be nothing good on regular tv and everything we watch will be on HBO or SHO.

  • Common Sense

    I agree, viewers watching for entertainment purposes can simply change the channel.

    What I object to is giving evil minds more ideas. 24′s entire premise does that, and I’ll be glad when it’s taken off the air, period.

  • http://www.myspace.com/crimesagainstcivility tralfaz

    Common sense: You don’t really believe that terrorists and the like are watching 24 for inspiration, do you? They can get any information they want off the web or, for that matter, the evening news on most nights. To suggest they are turning to 24 for inspiration seems rather like suggesting that would-be killers first sit down to a Law & Order marathon!

  • Gemnoire

    As a forensic psychologist (though this is not my exact area of speciality), and a UK resident where the Ofcom (our FCC) regulations are both much stricter and much more permissive, I have mixed feelings about this.

    Firstly I have to point out the distinct difference between unrealistic fantasy or cartoon violence, which, up to a point, will probably have very little long-term effects on children. Yes, children aren’t innocent and are perfectly capable of seperating fantasy from reality, so it’s unlikley they’re going to try and replicate Tom and Jerry. Furthermore, yes the long-term consequences of seeing graphic violence on TV are debatable, and the majority of people, be they children, adolescent or adult, who are mentally stable, living in supportive loving environments, it won’t be a problem. Of course, these are the one’s who are least vulnerable in the first place and who are most likley to change the channel when something disturbs them or whose parents are most likley to use parental controls.

    On the other hand, the glamorization of graphic and over the top violence, with no or unrealistic portrayals of it’s effects or consequences (eg the torture on 24 actually working) is an issue. It presents it as acceptable, which does affect how people consider these things, and will desensitize those watching.

    It is a difficult issue and quite frankly TV’s always an easy scapegoat and in a perfect world we would be tackling the underlying problems not attacking the media. But we don’t. I feel that program makers do have a level of social responsibility not to (as we Brits say) ‘take the piss’ and go over the top with their use of unncessary and graphic violence. Good program making doesn’t need to be all about the blood and indeed a bit of subtlety can go a long way.

    All this said I don’t support over-the-top censorship, but I personally feel a ‘watershed’ system, like we have in the UK, works increadibly well for both sides. This basically means that before a certain time (9 pm) over here, it is assumed that children may be watching and TV programming should be constructed accordingly (i.e. no graphic depicitions of violence or sex, limited swearing etc…). After the watershed, if kids are watching, that’s the parent’s responsibility, they have been warned and programs can get away with a lot more (for an example, Doctor Who is pre-watershed, things like 24, Lost, or even HBO productions like OZ, Rome or Deadwood will air post-watershed without any censorship). People still get good programming and the sqeaky wheel can’t complain because the regulations are very clear and upfront about it.

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  • marie

    I know that we should have the brains to turn the channel or turn off the tv. We should also have enough brains not to have shows on that in the first 5 min, show a kidnapper beating a little boy to death, putting him in a box and incenerating him. We should not need gov’t to sensor tv, but look what is on. If the shows don’t have enough respect for the viewers and commen sense, then someone is needed. Time to do what is writer and not watch these shows. TV should be informative or entertaining. Are these violent shows either/

  • stovokor

    dear marie: in the light of what you wrote, we should have the sense not to watch TV news, of all things: the amount of the afterfacts of violence and gory scenes is definitely worse than any Criminal Minds episode. What more – the real life bad guys do not care about our sensitivities… Series like Criminal Minds show what real life dangers are all around us. Its not about gore, it's about the dark side of real life. Sadly, existing. Making us aware of the dangers. And believe me, it;s a very, very mild program.