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“Wardrobe Malfunction” Misses the Point

Excerpted from Radio Ink:

Paragon Study: Radio Indecency Issue Is Overblown

“Rarely in national research studies do you find such strong consensus on a volatile topic,” commented Paragon CEO Mike Henry. “The indecency topic has galvanized many Americans who do believe that media exposes them to unwanted indecent material. Almost 8 out of 10 are aware of the recent flurry of media indecency issues. Americans deem indecent material to be “sexual content” and “nudity” (both 70 percent), followed by “adult language” (66 percent) and “violence” (63 percent). However, fewer than half were personally offended by the Super Bowl halftime show breast-baring incident. By large margins, the Internet and television are deemed to be the most guilty media culprits, with radio a very distant third. When asked to specifically identify exposure to indecent material in the media, once again television and Internet content surpassed all mentions of radio content.

While it’s great that Paragon did this study, this headline shouldn’t surprise anybody with half a brain. Unfortunately more legislators don’t qualify for half-brain status.

Here’s the problem with this study – which is really more of a problem with us: It addresses the source but misses the point.

Does the Janet Jackson episode personally offend you? No.

But does America at large feel it’s wrong for big media to expose breasts on broadcast television where your kids can see them? Yes. Is it wrong for the media to traffic in indecency and obsenity? Yes. Is it very difficult for a political candidate to argue what amounts to “indecency isn’t so bad after all” and win re-election? Yes. Does Radio contain content you are not comfortable with your children hearing? Yes.

The questions you ask will determine the answers you receive.

The indecency controversy was launched by Janet Jackson, but like any other insidious virus, the source is beside the point. And our feelings about that source episode are also beside the point.

This has always been a politically motivated issue that was worked up into a hysteria because it became a positive feedback loop where there was only one “side” everyone could clearly agree on: Indecency is bad.

If Janet hadn’t been the spark it would have been something else.

Forget the source. Address the point. And good luck.

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