12 November 2004


by Matt Rubinstein at 3:31 pm

The Guardian reports that 20 affiliates of ABC in the US refused to screen Saving Private Ryan this past Veterans’ Day (officially it has no apostrophe—but whatever) because they were afraid the FCC might revoke their licences:

“It would clearly have been our preference to run the movie. We think it’s a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces,” Ray Cole, president of Citadel Communications, which owns three midwestern stations, told the Associated Press.

But Mr Cole said fear of punishment from the FCC—and a belief among broadcasters that last week’s elections revealed growing conservatism in the US—had forced the stations into caution.

“We’re just coming off an election where moral issues were cited as a reason by people voting one way or another and, in my opinion, the commissioners are fearful of the new congress,” he said.

The new fears follow the FCC cautioning NBC for letting Bono say “fuck” during the Golden Globe Awards, and more recently fining CBS stations $US550,000 for showing Janet Jackson’s breast. Now I’ve ranted before about bowdlerising bad language, and I can’t in any good faith object to the occasionally-broadcast breast. And I’d normally say that both kinds of working blue are as nothing to the kids’ emotional and psychological development compared to on-screen violence and bloodshed.

(I know that the only films that discernibly affected me—once I’d recovered from Dot and the Kangaroo, long story—were psycho-violent outings like The Deer Hunter, which gutted me when I saw it much too young, and ruined what looked to be a promising career in Russian Roulette.)

But there’s something breathtakingly hypocritical about not showing a World War II film—one that is particularly renowned for the accuracy of its depiction of battle conditions—on Veterans’ Day, a day meant to pay tribute to the soldiers involved in those very battles, because it’s too violent and they swear too much. I mean, ban it because it’s schmaltzy and manipulative, fine, or because Tom Hanks is in it—but not because it shows war in some way like it is. Add to that the fact that on that same day the new generation of grunts were pounding Falluja, killing everyone in sight and even losing a few of their own, and it just seems farcical.

One Response to “What?”

  1. Alastair Says:

    Ban it because of Matt Damon’s preposterously white teeth.

Leave a Reply