Thursday, January 27, 2005

WHERE'S THE OUTRAGE? Over the next two years, opportunities for the White House and the Republican Congress to make blithering idiots of themselves will be endless. Democrats can take advantage of these opportunities - but only if they demonstrate courage rather than a craven willingness to suck up to people who will never vote for them anyway.

One such opportunity may be over just-installed Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings's outrageous, offensive criticism of the new PBS kids' show Postcards from Buster. Spellings has herself twisted into a knot because, in one of the episodes, Buster - a cartoon rabbit - visits a family in Vermont that's headed by a lesbian couple.

Yesterday's New York Times story is online here. Today the Boston Globe has a feature on the family.

PBS has backed off from distributing the show, which is pretty much what the network always does when confronted with controversy. Some PBS stations, including Boston's WGBH-TV (Channels 2 and 44), are going to show it anyway. Good for them.

Of course, the places where it won't be shown are precisely where the kids of gay and lesbian parents are most in need of some sort of validation. So what we end up with is a de facto situation in which anything deemed to be blue-state programming is seen in blue states only. Disgusting.

Conservatives are always threatening to cut off taxpayer funding for PBS. Well, after this, it would be nice to hear a few liberals call for funding to be dumped as well. PBS has gone out of its way to cater to its conservative critics, thinking that its traditional liberal supporters will put up with just about any insult.

Not this time? Maybe? Please?

METROMANIA, CONT'D. You would never read Cosmo Macero's Metro update (sub. req.) in today's Boston Herald unless you're an absolute junkie on the subject. Cosmo, as usual, has got some interesting stuff, but this is incremental. But if you're starting at a Herald box on the street, you see yet another front-page blowout: "METRO 'REFORM' A WHITEWASH."

Good grief.

NEW IN THIS WEEK'S PHOENIX. From deep in the heart of Blue America, Inauguration Day lamentations in real time.


Anonymous said...

Dan, your last paragraphy on the "Postcards from Buster" bit has me perplexed, but I'll take a stab at the meaning: You're tired of seeing PBS roll over for any criticism it ever gets, and since the only criticism it gets is from has acquired a de facto conservative "bias". (I use that term loosely) What you'd like to see is liberals criticize PBS so that PBS would realize they can't just pander to everyone who criticizes them. The ultimate hope being that PBS would learn to stand up for itself a little.

God, wouldn't we all love that?

Maybe they can teach the same thing to NPR, too...which has gone from mid-to-left, to just-left-of-center, to center, to starting to drift right. I can't listen to Democracy Now all day, and WKOX/WXKS have weak signals, so where am I supposed to get my "liberal" news?? :-)

- Aaron Read

Anonymous said...

Aaron - you apparently have a computer - can you listen to Air America on-line? I listen to Franken most days... Maybe you can't at work, etc... The problem I have is the evenings when they have to reduce their power. It's tough to get even in Somerville. The other thing is I don't like the XKS schedule: I like the Garafalo/Seder show *much* more than I like Randi Rhodes, but it starts much later here than it does on the network.

Anyway... I really wanted to address the Buster thing. PBS not standing up for themselves and backing the program is really troubling, but then there's a lot of people/organizations that seem to be cowering in the face of right-wing muscle-flexing.

Here's what really bothers me, though: what is the right-wingers' suggested alternative to teaching children tolerance?

If you don't like the idea of co-habitating homosexuals, fine, but what is the alternative? Should we just shelter kids from knowing of their very existence, making them less prepared for the real world? Or should we teach them active intolerance - shunning and worse?

Oh, but I'm probably just a northeastern liberal elite who refuses to relate to so-called "real Americans" (read: conservatives) and their beliefs.

In this case, yeah.

-Mike P.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where I can see a list of the stations that have said they're going to air it anyway?

I agree that Dan's last sentence is a bit convoluted, but we should hear some criticism of PBS from liberal elements in Washington-- preferably those currently in office. After all, if PBS doesn't stand up for cultural diversity in the US, who will?

Tim W said...

Dan, imagine our Minsiter of culture's wrath when she learns that the fact that Buster's parents are divorced has not led him to (1) miss having a dad at home; (2) engage in risky behaviors; or (3) lash out against his parents.

Underlying both Postcards with Buster and Arthur is the notion--quite threatening to Spellings and her ilk--that kids come from all sorts of backgrounds, and that no one background is superior.

Her "logic"--that the episode in question was harmful because it would expose kids to lifestyles that their parents wouldn't approve of--should have led her to critizice the show (already aired) that focused on a devout Mormon family. And what would she say about the Arthur show in which Francine and her (Jewish) family joyfully go out to the movies on Christmas? And the Brain's family, who celebrate Kwanzaa, is surely even more outre.

Perhaps some kind soul at the DOE will convince the Boss that PBS only shows Boohbah, all day and all night. Nothing to worry about there.

As for me, I was disgusted enough when William Bennett's Book of Virtues got made into a PBS series for kids. Fortunately, external events made that one go away, and fast.

Anonymous said...

The problem with conservatives is that they overreact and then act. (Contacting FCC, PBS, etc.)

The problem with liberals is that they overreact, but just whine about it on blogs.

Why can't conservatives and liberals (a) not overreact and (b) act diplomatically? If you still really think that this 1 episode of a show about a talking rabbit will lead to the downfall of all liberal balance in media (or complete moral chaos), write a nice, diplomatic letter to PBS.

Then chill out.