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January 29, 2009

PTC outraged by 'Nip/Tuck' self-mutilation

Time for another example of moral outrage from the Parents Television Council.

Earlier this month, the PTC was horrified that NBC accidentally showed a raised middle finger during the Golden Globes live telecast.

Today their objection is to an episode of frequent PTC target "Nip/Tuck." The scene in question, video below, "depicted a woman using an electric carving knife to cut off her own breast."

“Not content with depictions or descriptions of bestiality, incestuous necrophilia, or blood-soaked stabbings, the narcissistic sociopaths behind the production and distribution of Nip/Tuck have chosen to establish yet another low-point in the history of television,"  said PTC President Tim Winter, wordily. "Tuesday’s episode portrayed sickening and bloody images of a woman who takes a mastectomy into her own hands in the crowded lobby of a doctor’s office."

Okay, well, yeah. The scene is pretty revolting. And it is nice to see the PTC object to violence instead of sex or language, as is usually the case (though the inclusion of a boob in the "Tuck" scene surely helped raise PTC's twitchy antenna).

But let's be honest here. 

PTC is great for reporters because they offer instant media fights, in press release form. Their stories write themselves: “A parenting group has filed a Federal Communications Commission complaint against the CW today for airing a nude scene during a telecast of 'America's Next Top Model.'"

Sounds like a big deal, right?

When, really, it’s Winter and Co. filling out a form. Thousands of TV fans, upset with various things they see on the bright screen in their dark rooms every night, fill out forms of their own the next day -- leaving comments on message boards and blogs -- to no effect. But the head of the PTC issues a press release and it becomes a news event. 

For "Tuck," the PTC plans to contact each of the show's advertisers and ask "whether bloody self-mutilation with an electric carving knife is in alignment with the corporate image they wish to portray."

But don't advertisers on "Tuck" -- not to mention its viewers -- already know the show sometimes contains shocking scenes of gore?

The point isn't meant to belittle the content concerns of the PTC, or of conservative viewers -- their objection to crass, lewd, vulgar content is understandable. Complaining is their right.

But I don't know they are any different -- certainly no more important in the larger scheme of things -- than the legions of disgruntled “Grey’s Anatomy” fans annoyed by the current ridiculous storyline that has Izzie having an affair with a ghost.

What’s more upsetting, really? And what has greater bottom-line consequences for a network? Blurred nudity on "Top Model"? Or “Heroes” making no sense this season?

Unless a network is hit by a massive FCC fine (which is very rare), a show's fans are the ones who really matter -- not those who object to content they wouldn't normally watch.

The "Nip/Tuck" mutilation scene (warning: graphic):    


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