Sunday, October 23, 2011

FX Network's "American Horror Story"

If there were ever a time to argue for the necessity of Cable Choice, it's now. I'm never afraid of the content I see in movies or on TV. My short stint with acting a thousand years ago exposed me to the 'magic' of movies and television. Dismembered body parts (wax moldings) blood (corn syrup, usually) and dead people very rarely scare me. The minds behind the dead bodies, dismembered corpses and the blood is what causes me to jump out of my chair.

Like Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck and Glee), who has put out another darling for families everywhere. American Horror Story (Wednesdays, 10PM Eastern/FX Network) is primarily centered around the Harmon family. It highlights sex, murder, self-mutilation, masturbation, S&M, dismembered fetuses, corpses, and demons, and a teenaged boy's fantasies of murdering his classmates.

And it's on basic cable. You can't opt out of having it--you are forced to pay for it.

Dr. Ben Harmon moves his family (after sleeping with one of his students) to a new state and a new home, which just happens to be haunted and (of course) has a history of gory murders. Rampant use of the ever-classy genital slang like “p***y” and “c***sucker.” is there, along with the good doctor Ben fantasizing about his housekeeper and masturbating himself to a very graphic and loud orgasm. His wife is shown having sex with (and becoming pregnant by) someone in a full-body rubber S&M bondage suit. This rubber-wearing lunatic may or may not be her husband.

And it's on basic cable.

Victims are stabbed or axed to death, forcibly drowned, or graphically murdered. Each episode also includes views of dismembered corpses, fetuses, and what I can only surmise to be demons.

But you know what really gets me? It's when a Christian is sexually assaulted and murdered while praying. I think it goes unsaid that Ryan Murphy and his cronies over at FX wouldn't dare exhibit this type of violence on another religion. Maybe Murphy has a love/hate thing with God. Maybe he's secretly enraged over Christian doctrine and theology and uses his medium of television to exert said rage. Maybe he was a nerdy kid who was picked on by jocks at parochial school. Who knows? What is certain is that Murphy and FX are a bunch of talentless hacks who are using the most predictable, unoriginal and banal means of shock value around: Picking on the church. He may be rich and successful, but talented he ain't.

I included a clip of the show, which opens with a disabled girl staring ominously at two boys who threaten to hurt her with baseball bats. Creepy, yes. Cheap and trite? Yes. But maybe in the mind of Murphy, nothing says "horror" like a kid with Down's Syndrome, right?

Curious who sponsored American Horror Story? See below and click the links to contact the sponsors. Tell them to pull out or they'll lose a consumer.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Channel One News and Your Schools

Channel One News  is a 'school-safe' news channel which informs teens on current world events and pop culture. It's free to schools, which means it's funded by a lot (LOT) of advertising. Earlier today I posed as an interested parent wanting to get Channel One in my school district. The reps at Channel One were very helpful, and informed me that they have many new things coming, including an interactive model geared towards grades as young as three, where kids can build their comprehension skills 

Thank God for that. We all know that sending our kids to school to build academic skills is just an urban legend, really. Interactive whiteboards with a lot of advertising is what's necessary to up their IQs. The rep at Chanel One assured me that the interactive "Smart Boards" were a "really expensive" add-on service to the basic newscast, and some schools probably couldn't afford them. Was my district a part of that demographic? I almost hung up on him.  

Most recently, Chanel One's heavily marketed website, (owned by Channel One's parent company, Alloy Media) showcased a porno-ish photo of Glee's Naya Rivera: 

In bolded brackets next to Ms. Rivera's crotch is a warning for youngsters: "[Warning: They're all hot, but you prob shouldn't look at them at school and/or work!]" Then it encourages teens to run out and buy a copy of FHM to see more sexy photos. 

Are you kidding me? My tax dollars are paying to fund this crap? 

My love story with Channel One goes back to 2008. From 2007-2009, I headed the New Jersey Parents Television Council, and in 2008 I worked with a parents advocacy group who contacted me to go before their board of Ed in our town. Nutley, NJ, is a smallish suburb of Manhattan, and is home to down-home Italian families, football, manicured lawns, and a lot of involved, take-no-prisoners parents who were enraged by the prospect of Channel One invading their schools. While the Board listened politely to our case, it was a no-go on our end. Channel One soon found its way and its many ads into the hallways of Nutley schools. 

Josh Golin with Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood writes a very good article on Channel One here.  He urges parents to get involved, and this Watchdog Mama agrees. 

Get in touch with your  district and find out if they have Channel One. If they do, ask why. In the world of logic, there's absolutely no reason for kids to be bombarded with advertising and cheap pop culture while at school.