June 16, 2006
The Greatest Five Mintues of L. Brent Bozell's Year

The Book of Job reminds us all that bad things often happen to very good people. And, if that's the case, it must be conversely true that, very often, great things happen to pretty crummy people.

And that's the case this week for the pit bull attacking the leg of free speech, The Parents Television Council, when our heralded leader President George W. Bush signed into law the raising of fines for television indecency from $32,500 to $325,000.

For those of you who want to know more, never fear--the PTC has included a complete transcript of what President Bush said for those five minutes when he signed the bill into law. And, for anyone who can't read, they also provide video. Hey, the PTC may not be fans of almost everything about what we call "convergence culture," since they consider shows like According to Jim to be heavily offensive to moral sensibilities (learned that one from Stephen Colbert)...But they sure do know how to be pretty media savvy. And, surprise! The video they show comes from Fox News Network.

Go look around the PTC Web site. They have difinitive proof about how free speech on television is destroying our country. Watching MTV for an hour makes kids more lkely to approve of pre-marital sex (just imagine what watching every day might do!) I guess we should be ashamed of our partners here at C3. And, in their press release celebrating victory, Bozell said this, which has been quoted in numerous news articles about the story, "They (the public) are fed up with the sexually raunchy and gratuitously violent content that's broadcast over the public airwaves, particularly during hours when millions of children are in the viewing audience."

In a subsequent online column about this issue, Bozell asks, "How can our media elite find so much pessimism in our society about our future in Iraq, or our future planetary health, or our future economic success, and totally ignore the public's pessimism about how Hollywood -- that is to say, they -- are polluting the culture?" This shows how powerful rhetoric can be when you turn a whole industry of creative people into one mass evil body..."they." More a propos to the "they" are groups like the PTC who directly tell people what they think, send out form letters to be mailed to people, and then claim how many people have spoken.

This site is dedicated to the vibrant possibilities that a new media landscape affords to us through convergence culture, but censorship initiatives like this endanger public expression by lumping everyone in the media industry into a "they" seeking to corrupt children...and, of course, anytime a group wants to attack an industry, the "children" line is always the infallible answer.

Bozell concludes with the point that "the four largest networks and 800 oftheir affiliates quietly have gone to court demanding the right to air the F-word and the S-word on the public airwaves any time and anywhere they wish, no matter how many children are watching."

And this is a guy who is consistently quoted in newspapers as an expert. An expert in rhetoric and distortion, maybe. Sure, there are plenty of things on television that I think is just done for sex, violence, or language's sake that is too "shock TV' in nature. And I wish every program had quality writing and imagination, but that isn't the way creativity works...you get a lot of bad stuff when you let people be free, but you also get a lot of quality.

In short, I believe that there's nothing more dangerous to American values than L. Brent Bozell, and continued initiatives like this can dampen the spirit of convergence culture like nothing else...



Yup. Unfortunately the more scope there is for kids to get hold of any piece of content at any time, the more the PTC and their ilk are going to fly into a panic and demand that all content bar none has to conform to certain standards.
You rightly say, "you get a lot of bad stuff when you let people be free, but you also get a lot of quality". Yup again, and it's about knowing what to watch and how. People are adversely affected by extreme sexual or violent imagery through errors of consumption (consuming too much or consuming one thing to the exclusion of all else) or errors of interpretation. We should think about what tools the individual needs to develop in order to navigate a world in which content and information move freely; that's a far better - and at this stage more practical - solution than trying to dictate what can and can't be said.

On June 19, 2006 at 8:59 AM, Will said:


I'm confused as to how much of the 'convergence culture' is showing up on broadcast tv? I would understand being alarmed if Bozell was trying to limit profanity or sexuality on YouTube or the like, but I don't see broadcast tv as part of the "new media landscape". I contend that public airwaves should conform to public norms. I feel like I'm missing your point.

I think the disconnect is that I don't understand how what I would consider to be "convergence culture" is connected to broadcast tv. Is there a definition of convergence culture you could refer me to that would help me understand?

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. I enjoy your commentary very much. Thank you,

On June 20, 2006 at 12:14 PM, Sam Ford said:

Nathan--I agree that I often wish that media producers didn't give censors like the PTC so much to work with, since there is plenty of easy evidence to show that covers up good content or even good aspects of content that sometimes goes overboard. I agree with you that dictating what someone should watch and how they should watch it should come on a personal level rather than a governmental one. Children and adults are already pretty savvy media watchers, but we should always do everything in our power to encourage more learning and understanding of the way the media works and to encourage the media industry to produce compelling and thought-provoking programming. The answer isn't to force producers to cut out bad content--it's to discuss it and debate it.


On June 20, 2006 at 12:26 PM, Sam Ford said:


Great to hear from you, and thanks for the compliments and spending your time with us. From the perspective here at MIT, convergence culture covers a lot of ground but includes transmedia storytelling and other moves that are currently being made by the entertainment conglomerates already in power.

Convergence culture includes fan communities based around these products, fan videos being made and distributed on YouTube, content launching onto iTunes, character blogs from network shows on Blogger or on a MySpace page, and the list goes on and on.

After all, two of our three corporate partners in C3--MTV Networks and Turner Broadcasting--are still invested most of all in their television products. In these cases, they are cable instead of broadcast, but MTVN is part of Viacom, who has a high stake in broadcast as well with CBS.

Just as you can't forget about the book when discussing media, you can't forget the extant media, such as broadcast, when discussing convergence. Convergence looks at how new media is intersecting and interacting with older media forms, so the Internet can't be the only focus.

In other words, the very idea of things converging involves not just the new media landscape but the old one as well, and television isn't going away anytime soon.

Now, your contention that "public airwaves should conform to public norms" is a different one. In this point, I guess my question is how "According to Jim" doesn't fall into the public norm (a show that the PTC attacks). My question is that, if these shows are drawing millions of viewers, then I'm not quite sure that they aren't serving the public norm already. Who defines this norm? Groups like the PTC? However, that being said, I do understand your point and agree that broadcast networks should still be held to different standards than cable or Internet or any other type of programming not sent through public airwaves. But the question is just how you regulate this.

Henry Jenkins, the director of our program, is releasing a book later this summer called, conventiently, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide that covers both new media and traditional media forms and their relationship with convergence. I'm hoping this will help you.