Prudent, not Prudish

subaltern-speakI recently issued a complaint to the Nine Network over the broadcasting of another expletive during the celebration chant of the Australian cricket team following their series win over England. Not only was a reply quite delayed, it seemed to justify the network on the basis that there had been no breach of the required code. It also side-stepped my concern completely.

My point was that this particular expletive is a standard team song inclusion which we might forgive behind the closed doors of the dressing room, but not if it could (and should) have been intercepted on a Sunday afternoon when many children are watching. The code certainly was breached, a fact which I am considering taking up with the Australian Communications and Media Authority on principle. Hot on the heels of a far more understandably accidental slip in a previous Test Match, this one was preventable, hence my concern.

I would argue that the media has stronger obligations to censorship and moral standards than it sometimes claims. If the primary concern is whether a code has been violated, then it appears that such a boundary is not appropriately respected as a means of protecting the public. Commercial pressures are understandable but, in the entertainment industry, these seem to blur the responsibility that the media carries in inevitably and strongly shaping (much more than just reflecting) cultural norms. Such norms still dictate the need for healthy values and language in family-friendly time slots, regardless of the program being aired.

Just as the proverbial frog boils in the kettle without jumping out if it is boiled slowly, our cultural norms are being cooked to oblivion by a society that appears to continually be calloused to its moral conscience. The media has a lot to answer for in this regard.

Being prudent, rather than prudish, can help avert such outcomes, lest new codes of practice become even weaker and permit media outlets to purvey even more filth on a generation of voyeurs. Protecting values with reasoned, measured and objective persistence will continue to be a vital means of exercising responsible action by citizens and organisations. Should the sleeping giant of the Christian church awaken its collective conscience on such issues, the seeming tide of moral turpitude on television (and in other media) would be repealed rather rapidly!

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