Indecency tales


The big indecency fines generally go exclusively to broadcasters, but that doesn’t mean other media are able to completely avoid the topic. A Calvin Klein billboard in New York City is getting a lot of discussion (and, in fact, the issue is dragging in some broadcasters), and Joe Buck’s HBO program came in for some criticism.

The billboard, painted on the side of a building, shows three teenagers wearing Calvin Klein jeans and little else in a very steamy situation which leaves very little to the imagination. At least one religious activist, Ray Comfort, has warned Calvin Klein, “Don’t even think of bringing your dirt and dumping it in my neighborhood, because I will be up my ladder with a staple gun in hand before the glue on your smutty image is dry.”

Comfort was further distressed that the CBS “Early Show” gave the billboard a publicity booster shot by showing it some 16 times on air.

A photo of the billboard is available in this article from New York Daily News.

Meanwhile, on veteran sportscaster Joe Buck’s new HBO show, comedian Artie Lange suddenly went blue. According to, HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg felt obliged to apologize for the incident, saying, “I would say I’m sorry to anyone across America who had kids and were watching what they thought was a good and honest sports show that turned into gutter language.”

There’s the problem – most basic cable channels maintain some version of decorum between 6AM-10PM and even into safe harbor, but anything goes on HBO since it’s a subscriber service. But the Buck show was live, and the network truly did not want to offend anybody.

Lange apparently believed he was to go nuts if the panel started to get dull. Dull is where he thought it went, and he followed with his blue streak. Apparently producers were looking for energy in the event of a lull, but not the sort of energy Lange provided.

RBR/TVBR observation: It’s nice to see the heat directed somewhere else for a change. We suspect the Calvin Klein ad is something for the City of New York to worry about, and obviously HBO is entirely in a self-policing situation. Still, despite these two incidents, we have again not seen civilization come crumbling down. We understand and support the desire to set certain standards for various types of communications in the public square. But when push comes to shove, we would rather Americans learn to handle some off-color material than do anything to infringe on First Amendment rights.