Huck (Guillermo Diaz) is tortured in a scene from ABC’s “Scandal”
*That torture scene in last week’s episode of “Scandal?” Yeah, it didn’t sit well with the Parents Television Council.
The watchdog group is criticizing ABC for not giving the Jan. 10 episode the proper rating. In the episode, Huck (Guillermo Diaz) is arrested under the Patriot Act and accused of attempting to assassinate President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) — a crime for which he is not guilty. Huck is water boarded and beaten nearly to death in an attempt to get a confession out of him.
“The brutal nature of that scene, which was rated as appropriate for a 14-year-old child, refutes statements made by an industry claiming to be responsible and concerned about societal violence,” the PTC said in a statement Monday.
The episode of the political drama from creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes had a content advisory at the beginning of the broadcast. But calling the three-minute scene “intense, explicit and bloodied,” the heads-up wasn’t enough for the advocacy group.
“It is sickening just how quickly the entertainment industry was able to move past the tragedy of Newtown and get back to business as usual,” said PTC president Tim Winter.
The PTC particularly singles out the timing of the episode, coming on the same day entertainment industry representatives met with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss curbing gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.
The episode marked a Season 2 ratings high for the Kerry Washington-starring drama.
The organization also spotlighted ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee for his remark that the network’s “job is always to get a sense of what the culture is feeling.” After detailing the waterboading and facial attack scene, the PTC asked, “is this what Mr. Lee believes the culture is feeling? And does he feel this material is appropriate for a 14-year old child?”
The PTC says it is calling on the Obama administration to get behind an effort for “real responsibility from those who produce and distribute violent media content as well as real reform of the failed TV ratings system.”
Jenifer Lewis as Pearl in NBC's "The Playboy Club"
*The Parents Television Council says seven companies have pulled their ads from the second episode of NBC’s “The Playboy Club” — and they’re calling on Capital One, Samsung and Chrysler to follow their lead, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Naturi Naughton and Jenifer Lewis star in the series set in 1963 at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Club in Chicago.
Citing the show’s ratings, PTC president Tim Winter says, “What has been clear to everyone outside of NBC must now be clear even to those inside NBC: ‘The Playboy Club’ is a commercial disaster and must be removed from the airwaves. We call for the network to cancel this degrading and sexualizing program immediately.”
Kraft, Sprint, Lenovo, UPS Store, Subway, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Campbell’s Soup did not advertise in the second episode on Monday.
The premiere was soft with 5 million viewers and just a 1.6 rating in the ad-coveted 18-49 demo. It sunk 19 percent in its second week, with just 3.8 million viewers and a 1.3 in the key demo.
The PTC says it has targeted the show for objectifying and degrading women. It vows to continue to ask members to contact advertisers “until they cease sponsorship of a broadcast television program that is mainstreaming the pornography industry.”
“As a licensee of the public airwaves, NBC has breached the public trust by airing what amounts to a weekly advertisement for a pornographic brand. As demonstrated by the Nielsen ratings for The Playboy Club the past two weeks, any further airing of the show not only pushes an anti-family agenda, but is a profoundly bad business decision,” added Winter.
“Until the program is removed from the public airwaves, PTC will be calling on its members and other concerned citizens to contact the sponsors. Today, we ask Capital One, Chrysler and Samsung if their corporate values are in step with those of the Playboy brand,” Winter went on.
Singer Nicki Minaj has a major wardrobe malfunction while performing live on "Good Morning America" in Central Park. (Aug. 5, 2011)
*The Parents Television Council has something to say about Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction this morning.
Contacted by TMZ, the watchdog group calls out “Good Morning America” for not using the five-second delay, which would have prevented the rapper’s left nip slip to be broadcast.
“For the umpteenth time in recent memory a morning news show has included inappropriate content for children and families,” president of the PTC Tim Winter told TMZ.
Meanwhile, ABC says the network did indeed have a five-second delay at the ready on “Good Morning America” this morning, but says the boob flash was just too quick to catch.
A spokesperson for the network tells TMZ, “Although we had a five-second delay in place for the Nicki Minaj concert on ‘GMA ,’ the live East Coast feed of the concert regrettably included certain fleeting images of the performer that were taken out of later feeds of the broadcast in other time zones.”
*I understand why the Parents Television Council is outraged by Rihanna’s “Man Down” video — the image of the pop princess shooting a guy in the back of the head is disturbing — but I’m troubled by the PTC’s lack of anger over the onscreen rape that triggers the video’s retaliatory crime.
The “Man Down” clip opens with Rihanna’s character gunning down a man in a crowded train station. Then, through flashbacks, we see her meet this same dude in a club. They dance, drink and make. When the guy tries to take things further than Rihanna wants, she attempts to nudge him away. But he doesn’t stop. So, she pushes him back hard with both hands and walks out of the club. Angered by Rihanna’s rejection, the guy follows her to a secluded area, throws her to the ground and rapes her.
The rest of the video blends images from the rape and the shooting as Rihanna sings out her regrets: “I didn’t mean to hurt him/ Could’ve been somebody’s son/ And I took his heart when I took out that gun.”
“Man Down” depicts the kind of heinous sex crime that is all too common in our society. Like far too many men and boys, the guy in Rihanna’s video feels he has the right to take what he wants, and he has the right to punish a woman who refuses his advances. He thinks it is wrong for a woman to share her passion only up to a certain point. He believes that he has the right to determine her limits. He believes, in effect, that women belong to him – that because he is a man he can say and do anything he wants to a woman and she has to go along. Or else.
That’s the statement being made about certain men in the “Man Down” video. But the Parents Television Council didn’t sound off about that. Instead, the PTC went after Rihanna for daring to imagine that a woman might actually be shattered and angry enough to seek revenge on a man who had raped her. PTC communications director Melissa Henson condescendingly suggested that since Rihanna was the victim of domestic violence (she was brutally by then-boyfriend Chris Brown three years ago) she should have made a different statement. “Rihanna’s personal story and status as a celebrity superstar provided a golden opportunity for the singer to send an important message to female victims of rape and domestic violence,” Henson wrote in a statement. “Instead of telling victims they should seek help, Rihanna released a music video that gives retaliation in the form of premeditated murder the imprimatur of acceptability.”
Of course, premeditated murder is not acceptable. Not even for a woman who has been raped. But we ought to sympathize with any woman who, after having her body and spirit thus violated, would seethe with rage and a yearning for payback. Considering that she was beaten bloody by a man who was supposedly in love with her, it makes perfect sense that Rihanna would feel that kind of wrath. It’s to her credit that she never sought any kind of direct revenge on Chris.
In scolding Rihanna, the PTC glosses over the fact that many women who “seek help” after being raped are unjustly blamed – in courts of law as well as the court of public opinion — for the crimes committed against them. This is surely one of the reasons that some 60% of sexual assaults go unreported (according to Justice Department figures).
As I said up front, I understand why the Parents Television Council is upset over Rihanna’s latest video. They’re right one level – vigilante justice is dangerous for society because whenever individuals take the law into their own hands they undermine the system that is needed to keep us all safe. But if we, as a society, are worried about unleashing the kind of reasonable (if not legally justifiable) “Thelma and Louise”-style revenge dramatized in Rihanna’s “Man Down” video, then we’d better make sure that the system works. We must extend justice and genuine empathy toward women and we must teach our boys and young men that women are equals to be respected, not underlings or objects to be controlled, used and dominated.
Thanks for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.
Watch Cameron Turner’s video essay on Rihanna’s “Man Down”:
*Rihanna continues to defend the controversial new video for her latest single “Man Down,” saying the footage of her murdering a man who appears to have sexually assaulted her a day earlier is a message of empowerment for girls.
As previously reported, The Parents Television Council, the Enough is Enough campaign and think tank Industry Ears, have attacked the video as an act of calculated murder that will encourage young women to turn to violence.
But Rihanna, the victim of a violent 2009 physical attack by then boyfriend singer Chris Brown, told Black Entertainment Television (BET) on Thursday that “Man Down” addresses the topic of rape.
“Rape is happening all over the world and we continue to cover it up and pretend it doesn’t happen,” Rihanna, 23, told the network in an interview.
“Girls are empowered by this … I’m just really impressed that my fans get it,” she said. “That was really important to me. This is a story for them.”
She also told BET, which itself drew criticism for airing the video, that the girl she depicts is “not a cold-blooded killer” and she shows remorse about the killing.
“I didn’t do it to make a controversial video,” Rihanna said. “I wanted to make a mini-movie, something raw and artistic.”
“Man Down”, the latest single from Rihanna’s album “Loud”, was released last week.
*Rihanna is going in on her critics, Parents’ Television Council and former BET employee Paul Porter, for criticizing her “Man Down” video which depicts a victim of domestic violence, shooting down her assailant.
Thursday, on BET’s “106 & Park” music video countdown show, Rihanna said the video is “art with a message.”
“We just wanted to hone in on a very serious matter that people are afraid to address, especially if you’ve been victimized in this scenario,” Rihanna said.
BET says it will continue to play the video, explaining that the network “has a comprehensive set of standards and guidelines that are applied to all of our content” and that Rihanna’s video “complied with these guidelines and was approved for air.”
Interestingly, MTV hasn’t played the video. A MTV representative told the AP they’re “in the process of reviewing the video.”
Rihanna also used Twitter to vigorously defend her video and thanked her supporters. She claimed it’s all about artistic freedom, youth and desire to inspire.
“I’m a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What’s up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I’m just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!” she wrote early Thursday afternoon. “Cuz we all know how difficult/embarrassing it is to communicate touchy subject matters to anyone especially our parents!… And this is why!Cuz we turn the other cheek! U can’t hide your kids from society,or they’ll never learn how to adapt!This is the REAL WORLD!… The music industry isn’t exactly Parents R Us! We have the freedom to make art, LET US! Its your job to make sure they dont turn out like US”
As we previously reported, the PTC used Paul Porter, the former BET announcer and founder of Industry Ears, to voice its complaints:
“‘Man Down’ is an inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song. In my 30 years of viewing BET, I have never witnessed such a cold, calculated execution of murder in primetime. Viacom’s standards and practices department has reached another new low,” Porter said in the statement. “If Chris Brown shot a woman in his new video and BET premiered it, the world would stop. Rihanna should not get a pass and BET should know better. The video is far from broadcast worthy.”