FCC decides “Saving Private Ryan” isn’t obscene.

Remember when several ABC affiliates opted not to broadcast Saving Private Ryan due to fears of being fined by the FCC even though ABC promised to pay the fines any affiliate happened to be slapped with? Well there were some complaints about the movie filed with the FCC yet amazingly the Feds decided that the movie isn’t obscene despite some rather coarse language and graphic gore.

The film contained “numerous expletives and other potentially offensive language generally as part of the soldiers’ dialogue,” the Federal Communications Commission said. “In light of the overall context in which this material is presented, the commission determined it was not indecent or profane,” the five-member FCC said in a unanimous decision in denying complaints over the movie.

“This film is a critically acclaimed artwork that tells a gritty story – one of bloody battles and supreme heroism,” FCC chairman Michael Powell said in a statement. “The horror of war and the enormous personal sacrifice it draws on cannot be painted in airy pastels.”

Some complaints also cited the movie’s violence, but the FCC said its indecency and profanity guidelines were not applicable to violent programming.

OK kids, you got that? Graphic depictions of violence and expletive laden dialog is perfectly OK on network television so long as your movie is critically acclaimed and is about people doing heroic things during a war. Three seconds of unintended viewing of an aging pop-star’s titty, though, will get your ass fined to Kalamazoo and back. Who knows how many children were scarred for life by that brief display of bare breast! Certainly more than those exposed to the horrors of war depicted so realistically in Saving Private Ryan, right?

This is important so let’s go over it one more time to be sure you remember it: People swearing up a storm because they’ve been blown in half on a beach is A-OK! Momentary glance at a bejeweled method of sustenance delivery for newborns is BAD BAD BAD!

Man, when did the FCC start putting the mentally insane into positions of power?

20 thoughts on “FCC decides “Saving Private Ryan” isn’t obscene.

  1. I wonder if there will be a court test of this ruling.  Will somebody show a historically important graphic depiction of sex?

  2. I wonder if there will be a court test of this ruling.  Will somebody show a historically important graphic depiction of sex?

    Since war and violence seem to be quite rampant in the Bible, I can see why our present government would be okay with that.  As for the sex and nudity?  How about a little Adam and Eve action.  That seems historically important.  Right?

  3. I haven’t seen Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg makes me ill), so I don’t know what profane language is used, though I’m betting there’s probably a few fuck’s in there.  But does it matter (to squeamish parents) if their kids learn bad language from an “acceptable” source or an “unacceptable” source?

    MOM:  Timmy, go wash your hands for dinner.
    TIMMY:  I don’t wanna wash my fucking hands!
    MOM:  Timmy!  Where did you learn that awful word?
    TIMMY:  “Saving Private Ryan”.
    MOM (relieved):  Well, that’s okay then.  Now hurry.  Your fucking soup is getting cold.


  4. I know I’ve seen uncovered butts on TV before, but once again in some type of movie… something having to do with Nazi Germany I think…  I thought I’d seen a quick glimpse of a “cadaver’s” breast on CSI before as well.  Prior to the segment they did display the caution parental advisory when coming back from commercial break.

  5. Violence vs. Nudity on TV:

    I saw part of what I think was an Ah-nuld movie on local affiliate (i.e., not cable) TV.  This was the weekend, in the middle of the afternoon … in other words, a time when kids would be home and watching TV.  A man and a woman (a prostitute?) are in a hotel about to do the deed.  The woman is obviously nude.  Instead of doing a pan and scan, they just cut out any nude scenes, because the dialogue and action jump around erratically.  Someone breaks into the room? … I don’t remember exactly what happened, but Ah-nuld shows up and a fight ensues.  More jumping around because you probably could see the woman during the fight.  In the end, the man ends up visibly impaled on some large sharp object thrust through his back and out through his chest.  THIS was okay for kids to see, apparently!

    Years ago, on PBS during prime time, they showed two different dramas, one starring Treat Williams and one with Spalding Grey.  Treat’s featured a brief shot of his butt, while Grey’s had a brief full frontal shot of him.  There was no warning before the show that I can recall.  Recently, on PBS, a warning came on saying the following show depicted highly disturbing images that could offend viewers.  This was not long after Nick Berg’s beheading—I didn’t think they were going to show that, but I imagined something similarly gruesome was about to be shown.  It turned out to be an old (late 70s?) documentary about a tribe in the South Pacific, and of course, some of the women walked around barebreasted—and of course this was very casual, not meant to be erotic in any way.  What’s ironic about this is I remember seeing this same documentary ages ago, and there was no warning then.

    Britain, at least when I was living over there, showed nudity on TV, sometimes full frontal, fairly frequently, without warnings or media buzz (“Tonight!  SEE the controversial episode!”).  Over here it’s BIG NEWS when Mark Harmon says “shit” on TV. 


  6. I agree with Decrepit Old Fool – Janet Jackson’s boobs are saggy and gross.  And her nipples are really wierd looking, too (minus the booby-tape, of course).

    Nice that this is my only insight in about a month for this site.  I sure love college! raspberry

  7. I guess I’m biased because old war movies is my favorite genre. i love movies about history and movies about war, so watching Saving Private Ryan every year on Veterans Day is the one thing I look forward to on TV. TV sucks—I would rather watch SVP 10000 times before I watch Janet Jackson perform on the Superbowl clothed or not. When faced with the options on TV, SVP is the LEAST of my worries in terms of profanity. Which is going to corrupt our children more, watching Saving Private Ryan or watching Jimbo eat 1000 maggot-covered pig livers in one minute on Fear Factor? or watching Jackie cry because she’s being kicked off of America’s Next Top Model for having 37-inch hips instead of 31-inch hips?

    Besides, if these kids are anything like me then they learned all their profanity from their parents and not from TV or movies. raspberry

  8. But Joe, did you actually see the spiky thing come out of the guy’s chest or just a shot of him after it had come out of his chest? I always love it when they edit a movie so that you don’t SEE someone being impaled, but can see the after effect of it as though not seeing it bursting through the guy’s chest somehow lessens the horror of it.

    From what I’ve been told by people who have visited there, Germany has Britain beat by quite a bit when it comes to nudity on television. My friend Bill Owen spent his honeymoon in Europe and he told me that the late-night ads for telephone chat services were pretty much short soft-core porn movies.

    As for Jackson’s booby, I can certainly think of a number of other people’s boobs I wouldn’t mind seeing revealed accidentally on TV…

  9. Don’t get me wrong. I’m with you all the way on preferring to watch a quality movie like Saving Private Ryan over any ‘reality based’ show, let alone Jackson and Timberlake playing grab-ass, but the point I’m trying to make is that the FCC seems to be run by people with a very twisted sense of what should be considered harmful or obscene. I’m sorry, but, saggy or not, three seconds of Jackson’s tit hardly seems to be any more obscene than the realistic depictions of war in SPR regardless of how good a movie SPR happens to be.

  10. Depiction of war is obscene because war is obscene.  Depiction of consensual sex is not obscene because there’s nothing obscene about two people having sex.  At least, that’s how it lines up with my values.

    That said, obscenity is not particularly harmful to children.  Like Miriam, my kids learned most of their profanity from their old man.  Really, what is the harm?  I told them those were “problem words,” meaning you had to be careful when you said them or it would cause annoying problems.

    Indifference is harmful to children.  Ignorance is harmful.  Hateful prejudices and lies are harmful to children.  It seems there’s little worry about kids absorbing them, though.

  11. I’m pretty sure we didn’t see the spiky thing coming through the guy’s chest.  I also think it wasn’t because it was edited out, but simply because that’s how the movie was shot (similar to the end of the Flash Gordon remake—you see Ming’s face as he is impaled, you see the spike sticking out of his chest, but you never saw it actually go through).

    Now that I think about it, I want to say this thing was a trophy? 

    Anybody have any idea what movie this is?


  12. Germany definitely has Britain beat on the nudity front. Germany even has commercials with nudity- I remember seeing an ad for body soap that prominently featured naked soapy boobs.

  13. I wanna move to Germany now, but I hear it will be hard to get any non-heavily edited games there.  Hrm, is Nudity > Violence (Verbal or Graphic), or Violence > Nudity when affecting my buyer’s prejudices?

  14. Aren’t games with Nazis in them banned in Germany? If so that really sucks, there should be Nazis in every game, including zombie Nazis. One of my only gripes with “The Sims” was its curious lack of Nazi killing action.

  15. You could probably find a Nazi skin for a character, and then put him in a room and remove all the doors. Not quite as fast-paced as a Wolfenstein game, but equally effective. You could also lead him to a pool and remove the ladder.
      I wonder what the implications are of the fact that I created all of my sims, and I love all my sims, but I’m perfectly happy to utterly destroy them when they annoy me.

  16. I wonder what the implications are of the fact that I created all of my sims, and I love all my sims, but I’m perfectly happy to utterly destroy them when they annoy me


    Aarg!  You Frekr!  (frantically looks for something to clean his keyboard off with—yet again—)

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