by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
April 25, 2006
IT STARTED WITH LURENA
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- Penis. There, it's out of the way now. Ever since Lurena Bobbit angrily wielded a sharp knife and removed her sleeping husband's penis, the reading and listening public has been spared no graphic details when news is reported.
The media tripped all over itself trying to work the word "penis" into each report. In an age when most parents decide to teach their children proper names for body parts and bodily functions, it was still a shocker in the early weeks of the Bobbit case. Those reporters just stuck out their collective chins and said, "penis." In former years they might have said "male member" or, "male genitalia," but in our enlightened times they decided to call a penis a penis. After all, it was not one of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on the air. Now, here we are. At least three times a day I hear "we must warn our audiences that some of the following material is graphic and not suitable for children." Then, instantly, without a pause to change the channel or send the children out of the room, the report begins. For instance, a picture of a fairly normal looking man, arrested and soon to be charged in the murder of a young girl, whose body parts were . well, I'm not going to write about what I think is too graphic to see on television.
The commercials are better than the programs lately. A-F-L-A-A-C. I even type that in the duck's voice. It makes me laugh every time I see the white feathered smarty pants. My particular pal is the Geico Insurance Company's commercial image of a gecko, standing tall, casual stance, with the voice and accent of an Australian man who knows what he's talking about. And, while he's talking to a tree lizard, I am getting the message.
Whether it's news or regular programming, we can't escape what's going on in the world. Fact or fiction, it makes no difference in content. What do we want first, the good news or the bad news? Obviously, the bad news since that's what we're getting. Is it our own fault? Does it make us feel better about ourselves to see how others behave. Am I a better mother because I never caged, abandoned, raped or murdered my children -- the way those parents arrested, charged, and paraded before the cameras did?
A friend once laughingly said: "Every town has to have a town drunk so the rest of the community has someone to look down on." Are we being entertained by witnessing degradation in the human condition?
When we're not being "entertained," so to speak, we are being thrust into reality -- just for the sake of going there. There are some touches to reality that are necessary and some that are just plain needless. Very few actors, male or female, have held on to their privacy by refusing to work nude. "If it furthers the plot, I'll do it. But no gratuitous stripping." That makes enough sense for me to see an R-rated movie, flailing arms and legs not withstanding.
But that isn't enough for the current crop of directors who think they can titillate the audience further by having one, two or three men continue their conversation standing in front of a urinal -- trying not to "look." The scenes do nothing except exclude the females in the cast who might otherwise interrupt the conversation. It's a guy thing.
If there's one room in anyone's home that has a locked door, it's the bathroom. That's because we like our privacy. Oh, yes, Europeans have laughed at us for being so Puritanical. But, we are thus. As a rule, we don't want to see what goes on, we don't want to hear what goes on.
Something tells me James Garner did not like being depicted as he was when he and a buddy stood on a balcony railing urinating. The camera was not on them but on the twin streams sinking into the earth below. The conversation never paused; just two guys and their need to go, finishing up before turning back inside to join the ladies. Sure, that was maneuvered with a watering can or hose, but the imagined scene was not tasteful.
Taste. That's what's missing. I know I can find G-rated movies, PG and PG13 as well; however, these R-rated movies that are produced have stars I want to see, performances I want to experience and street scenes I love. It's the bits of business, the realities, I find have no place in my being entertained, especially when leaving them out does not diminish the finished product.
Another tasteless plot shows a person being sliced open for a fresh liver; or, a near-term baby. The hospital programs often let greed motivate the action when someone will collect and sell organs before the patient is quite dead.
This week, one of my favorite shows will lose me: "House" will show a colonoscopy without any anesthesia and the preview this morning was raging with the patient's screams. Why no anesthesia? Dr. House says so. Whatever his reason, I won't be in the viewing audience. Pity. I generally love that format.
I've always been an advocate of supply and demand. So, it would appear the supply is fulfilling our demand. I just can't see it that way. What I do see is wide objection over a wardrobe malfunction but not a peep about what's being shown in prime time or at the local movie theater. God forbid anyone should think we're prudes!