The Distance Between One’s Head and Ass is Directly Proportionate to the Breadth of One’s Perspective

1/21/2005

The title of this column is not a law of nature, but it ought to be. The closest thing I can find is Freud’s “Anal Stage of Development,” but that seems to be limited to two-year olds and potty training. The Muse Theorem involves adults that have presumably figured out the difference between their britches and the bathroom.

Today we speak of the puritan madness that is sweeping the nation over broadcast “decency” standards and the trifling sideshows that result. And, oddly enough, how three recent rhubarbs involve the human derriere and a Muse favorite: Fox Broadcasting.

In case you’ve gotten a little behind (teehee) on the decency watch, an update: The hindquarters of football player Randy Moss, cartoon character Stewie Griffin and 84-year old actor Mickey Rooney have been hotly debated at the headquarters of networks to numerous to mention. Why? I’m glad you asked.

Let’s begin with Moss. After scoring a touchdown at Green Bay’s legendary Lambeau Field, the Minnesota receiver turned his back to the crowd and pantomimed pulling his pants down. In others words, a fake mooning.

Yes it was crude and ignorant. But Moss is a young man who will never be confused with Copernicus. Can we get over this without an uproar? In a word, no.

Covering it live, Fox play-by-play man Jack Buck (of beer commercial fame) screamed “that’s disgusting,” and the crew waxed indigent about it for the remainder of the broadcast. ESPN initially decided the film clip was just too hot even for cable and censored it. But smelling a ratings magnet they reversed the decision the following day and devoted the first 16 minutes of “Sportscenter” to Moss’ moronic two-second fake moon. The NFL fined Moss $10,000 and hoards of reporters staked out his parking space to get his reaction to the fine. Moss told them: “What’s ten grand to me? Maybe next time I’ll shake my d*** at ‘em.” (An unfortunate comment he’d never have had the chance to utter if the media could have capped this at a three-day story.)

If an implied display of the posterior can cause such a ruckus, imagine what a real peek would reap. Well, not really a real peek because Stewie Griffin’s ass is actually a cartoon ass, as is the rest of him and all of the other characters on Fox’s “Family Guy.”

It turns out that a four-year old episode contains a brief glimpse of baby Stewie’s behind. Despite the fact the show had previously aired at least three times, Fox decided this time enough is enough. In the spirit of the season, they pixilated the offending crack and further obscured it with a digitally-inserted Christmas ornament. (I am shocked the Christmas symbol didn’t cause a Christian jihad, but that’s for another day.)

Our third tale of TV tush involves aging movie star Mickey Rooney, a cold remedy called “Airborne,” the Superbowl and, of course, Fox Broadcasting. It all started when Airborne decided to drop $1.2 million for 15 seconds of air on the Superbowl and wanted to produce one of those zillion dollar ads that get people talking around water coolers.

What they came up with was Rooney freaking out when a guy coughs in a sauna. So he runs out the door–in the process dropping his towel and giving us a nanosecond glance of his shriveled-up behind. Airborne submitted the ad to Fox’s standards department and it was summarily rejected. “It was deemed inappropriate for broadcast television,” said a spokesman. In this case, it was the prior restraint that got the media’s collective tongue wagging. While we won’t see Rooney’s rump, there have been innumerable stories written about it. One wonders if this isn’t what Airborne’s ad agency had in mind to start with–to take advantage of media nation’s obsession with the tawdry and tedious.

I kid about a country getting it’s panties in a bunch over a fake mooning, but there’s a sinister undercurrent to all of this that threatens to sweep away that constitutional nuisance we like to call “free speech.” Do you realize that 66 ABC affiliates refused to air the acclaimed “Saving Private Ryan” on Veteran’s Day last year? Do you realize that outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered that the statue of Lady Justice in the Grand Hall of the Justice Department be outfitted with a shroud to cover her naked metal breast that had been on display for decades? Do you realize that FCC fines for “indecency” increased from $48,000 in 2003 to $7.7 million in 2004? Did broadcasters get 160 times dirtier in one year?

I cannot shake the notion that we have more important things to think about than cartoon butts and pretend moonings. Yet once the obsession with such things is amplified by the echo chamber of the media and demagogued by the politicians and proselytes, those “more important things” have a way of being forgotten.

Which brings us back to The Muse Theorem: The distance between one’s head and ass is directly proportionate to the breadth of one’s perspective.

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