I’d like to take some time to recognize some especially brave Americans. These men and women work long hours, face harsh criticism, and receive little praise, yet they continue to do their work because they know it is right. I refer to, of course, the censors.

The folks at organizations at the Parents Television Council have the unrewarding job of watching endless quantities of television, carefully watching for sexual behavior (shown or implied). Often, they have to rewind and rewatch especially salacious scenes several times to understand it fully, before summarizing it and marking its location down in their notes for future reference. The task is arduous, and often requires hours of intense concentration, but yet these fearless warriors carry on.

Brave members of the ChildCare Action Project go see every new movie, marking down each every swear word spoken, every violent act, each appearance of drugs, and, again, all sexual content. And what rigor and detail! You’d think that an organization like this would see the name, or at most the trailer, for Austin Powers: Goldmember and write it off. But not these guys! They continue to sit through the entire movie, taking notes on everything. A lesson to us all.

Meanwhile the American Decency Association carefully goes through the Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, searching their pages for every last bare butt and breast, marking down the page numbers on which they appear, and putting the results on the Internet. But just doing this once isn’t enough for them. Instead, they make sure to get a copy of every issue, and do the same for all of them. What persistance!

Why do these people take on this unrewarding job? We may never know. All I can do is think of them, sitting there in front of their television, movie screen, or nude photographs, carefully examining offensive and sexual content, and thank them for doing what most of us could not stomach. Continue on, brave censors.

posted November 28, 2003 12:00 AM (TV) #


The Procrastination Paradox
This American Life on Voting and Politics
Eldred Argument: You. Are. There.
Eye Exercises
Our Brave Censors
Instant Message from LelandJr247
Alternative Compensation Systems
I’m Not President But I Play One On TV
ACS Radio Interview

Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)