The Long-Overdue Demise Of The Fussbudgets

« October 2015  

Memo to the Million Mom March and the Parents Television Council: NOBODY CARES.

On Tuesday, I mentioned that there was an entirely different angry reaction to media that I wanted to tak about. But unlike enraged nerds, this one just makes me laugh, because one of society's prevous banes of existence has faded into hilarious irrelevance, and the only thing that keeps me from being happy about it is that the stuff that replaces it is usually worse.

There was a time, not too long ago, perhaps even within the lifetime of this column, that conservative "media watchdogs" held a certain amount of power and presence in the public discourse. They would get mad about a show having gay people in it, or a naked butt in it, or extramarital sex in it, and Hollywood would listen. Oh, they might not specifically turn the gay guy straight or edit out the butts, but they'd listen. They'd go out of their way to craft their shows in such a way that they wouldn't get too much negative attention from groups like the Parents Television Council.

And then a funny thing happened. Content exploded. Content providers exploded. Options proliferated. Gatekeepers fell. Society changed. And everyone stopped listening to groups like the PTC. If they're mentioned at all, it's when they make a ridiculous proclamation, and we all point and laugh at them and nobody actually gives a shit about what they have to say and what show they're upset about now.

To put it another way, twenty years ago, morality's staunch defenders predicted that N.W.A.'s brand of gangsta rap would lead to the destruction of society. What it led to was a bunch of Ice Cube family comedies, overpriced headphones, and one of the most critically and commercially successful biopics. They weren't just wrong, they were super-duper mega-wrong. I mean, that's not why people stopped listening to them, but I still think it's important to point out.

This all came to mind last week when some headlines crossed my eyeballs about One Million Moms. The OMMs is, at this point, the last refuge of the fussbudget. The final frontier in public moral scolds. And also a great place for people who really enjoy inflating their membership by something like three orders of magnitude. But that's not important right now.

What's important is that last week, One Million Moms decided to warn people that the new Muppets show is perverted. This is not the first time the Muppets have caught shrapnel in the culture war, but lately it's been for "leftist" politics, a criticism lots of people are still dumb enough to propagate and argue about.

Now, I haven't watched the new Muppets show, but that's OK. As is traditional with this kind of thing, neither have One Million Moms. They're basing their disapproval on ads like the one claiming the show has "full frontal nudity", and an MSNBC interview where Miss Piggy said she was a pro-choice feminist. And that's why everyone passed their warning through their news feeds like... fuck. I used that Taco Bell/digestive system metaphor on Doctor Who. So let's just say the story passed through the collective consciousness quickly and with minimal impact.

By the way, from their websites, Ten Thousand Moms' other areas of concern seem to be failing to get advertisers to pull their support of the TV Land show "Impastor" and the ABC Family show "Becoming Us", the former for being sacreligious and the latter for for having evil trans people in it. I had to tell you these things because you'd never ever heard of "Becoming Us" and maybe saw one ad for "Impastor" before forgetting it existed. Even if there are only 10,000 of them, they seem seriously overstaffed if all they can do is flail ineffectively at two very low-profile basic cable shows.

The age of the Moral Media Scold is over. Joe Lieberman's not protesting Mortal Kombat X, the Moms are mad about a pot-smoking fake pastor with zero impact on pop culture, and not coincidentally, when it comes to the American media landscape, things couldn't be better for the viewer. It's a small victory, but if we don't appreciate the small victories, we won't be able to realize the complete lack of big ones.

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