Brent Bozell's culture columns in the last two weeks have tackled some very contemporary topics, from new MTV star Tila Tequila to CBS's "reality" fest "Kid Nation" to Fox's "Family Guy" even working itself into submarine sandwich commercials. The latest column explored how MTV keeps looking for a new sexual barrier to cross on its "reality" shows:
The twist in the series is that Miss Tequila is bisexual. As the new MTV star tells it, "They found out about my lifestyle, and said ‘How would you feel about putting it on MTV?’" Viacom thought it was time for America’s youth to watch a bisexual dating show. So the show’s plot called for inviting 16 straight men and 16 lesbians to compete for her physical attention. Neither the men nor the women were informed of the other gender’s presence so they could look shocked for the cameras.
In the predictably, painfully tawdry first episode on October 9, one girl contestant announced she was a virgin, to which Tila replied, "My prayer has been answered!" The same woman soon was marching down a runway dressed as a Girl Scout, asking the show’s star: "I’m sweet and innocent. Can I interest you in my cookie?"
This show seemed desperately in need of a writer’s strike. Quality, however, was never necessary. The lack thereof was – and it worked.
It scored first place on cable among MTV’s desired demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds. What Viacom also knows, and had absolutely no qualms about, is that this sex-obsessed show would also play well with junior-high and high-school kids, and grade-school children, too.
Tony DiSanto, MTV’s executive in charge of "series development," promised the show would be a "rollercoaster ride of drama, conflict, and emotion, busting stereotypes and challenging the norm – proving that the rules of attraction are made to be broken."
The most recent episode centered on forcing each of the remaining contestants to eat a bull penis and testicles to win some hot tub time with Miss Tequila. What followed were a series of cheesy references to oral sex. Then the first man and woman to finish that stomach-turning feast moved on to crunching on bull eyeballs, a heart, and a shot of blood. In a nutshell, this is another show designed to shock, shock, shock.
For Thanksgiving week, Brent wrote about how "reality" shows that appeal to kids, from CBS's "Kid Nation" to several nanny shows on ABC and Fox have thrown in bleeped profanities to spice up the brats on each program. After noting that the Parents Television Council has found that most of the top programs for kids are "reality" shows, it remains that Fox's sleazy "Family Guy" and "American Dad" cartoons are also on the hot list. Bozell noted that Peter Griffin, the lead character of "Family Guy," is now selling Subway on television:
Now Fox’s iconic idiot is even making its way into commercials, with Peter the obese title character touting the Subway Feast: "it’s as big as my head." Fox’s army of merchandisers is delighted. "Subway's attitude and irreverence is the perfect platform for the 'Family Guy' brand's trademark twisted humor," said one Vice President for Spinning Off Sleaze.
The latest "Family Guy" plot featured Peter touting how he tattooed his private parts to look like the space shuttle. As for "American Dad," it recently aired an episode with themes of incestuous masturbation. Perhaps Subway can work all that into a commercial, too.
The network chieftains approving all this "adult" TV would assert that it’s unreasonable for parents to think their children aren’t exposed to this kind of "reality" in their daily lives at school or in the neighborhood. But if parents worry about the problem of "monkey see, monkey do," nobody’s a bigger monkey to children than Hollywood.