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FIRST-PERSON: Someday there may be nowhere to turn

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (BP)–“If you object to something on television, all you have to do is turn the channel.” Ever hear that? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m running out of channels to turn.

The comic detective series “Monk” on the USA cable channel is one of the few TV shows I watch. Tony Shalhoub portrays a former cop with manic obsessive tendencies. He can’t step on a crack. Can’t tolerate things out of order. And heaven forbid a picture should hang crooked. He makes Felix Unger look like, well, Oscar Madison.

Emmy-nominated Shalhoub is a superb actor/comedian, and a perfect fit for this part. I like the writing. I like trying to figure out the seemingly impossible crimes as well as what makes the lead character tick. And I like the relationships between the regulars. Sometimes there’s even a touching moment or some poignant theme addressed. It’s a good show.

Alas, there’s a problem. Because this weekly series airs on the cable channel USA, we all know that cable presentations tend to be less restrictive than the three major networks when it comes to adult subject matter and language. While this particular show seems careful about sexuality, nearly every week, there is some language we don’t hear on ABC, CBS or NBC. So, okay, I’m a big boy, I can put up with the occasional obscenity or minor expletive. But a few weeks ago, I noticed that Jesus’ name was misused in an episode. The profanity didn’t come from the star, but it did come from other regular cast members. Not once, but three times, mind you. For a moment, I thought I was at the local cineplex.

If you have followed my film review work, you know that profanity, the misuse of God’s name or that of His Son, is my major problem with Hollywood’s products. I have found more than 30 exhortations in the Bible concerning reverencing God. His third order in Exodus 20 is that we are not to misuse His name. It must be important to Him, because it comes before “don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery.” The last six of the Ten Commandments instruct us how to behave toward one another. But the first four are there to remind us of His holiness and that we are to regard Him with reverence.

Holiness doesn’t get a whole lot of attention in our society, not even in many Christian groups. We sometimes think he’s just our heavenly Daddy or our spiritual Mr. Belvedere. Truth is, He is the most High God, the creator of all life. Yes, He is our friend, our heavenly Father, but He also requires respect and honor. “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him” (Psalm 33:8, NIV).

I have spoken to many people in the industry over the years concerning profanity in films. And you know what? Many don’t realize it offends us.

Christians are becoming as numb to profanity in the media as everybody else. We like a show or film, so we put up with it. We pretend we don’t hear it. But we do. And we should be doing something about it.

Have a favorite TV show, but find something objectionable in it? Let the network know. We don’t need to attack, but we do need to make them aware that it is offensive.

Sometimes the Silent Majority is simply too silent. Get the word out. Get the addresses of studios and write to them. And while the Lord can anoint that letter and change the world, most likely He wants more than one of us to speak up. So get those addresses in the hands of fellow believers.

“Oh, Phil, you’re being naive about letter-writing campaigns.” Well, maybe, but the worst thing good people can do is to do nothing at all.

Don’t just turn the channel. Do something more. Because sooner or later there won’t be a channel to turn to.
Listed are addresses for networks, cable companies and studios, although the most effective way to get your views across would be to approach the local television affiliates. You’ll find them listed in your phone book. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, changes will occur when we take responsibility. We should 1) communicate with the industry, 2) be careful about what we support and 3) help our children understand the importance of traditional values and point out Hollywood’s lack of regard for those values.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK, 235 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017.
DISNEY CHANNEL, 3800 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91505.
HBO, 1100 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10036.
LIFETIME, Lifetime Astoria Studios, 36-12 35th Ave., Astoria, NY 11106.
SHOWTIME, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
MOVIE CHANNEL, 1633 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
TBS, One CNN Center, P O Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30348.
TNT, One CNN Center, P O Box 105366, Atlanta, GA 30348.
USA, 1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
WGN, One Technology Plaza, 7140 S. Lewis Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74136-5422.
ABC, Attention Broadcast Standards, 77 West 66th Street, New York, NY 10023.
CBS, Attention Broadcast Standards, 51 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019.
FOX BROADCASTING, P O Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213.
NBC, Attention Broadcast Standards, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112.
PBS, 1320 Braddock Place, Alexandria, VA 22314-1698.
AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS, 150 Crossways Park West, Woodbury, NY 11797.
WALT DISNEY COMPANY, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521.
COLUMBIA PICTURES, 10202 W. Washington, Culver City, CA 90232-3195.
MCA/UNIVERSAL PICTURES, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA 91608.
PARAMOUNT PICTURES, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038.
TWENTIETH CENTURY-FOX, 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035.
WARNER BROTHERS, 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522.
THE SAMUEL GOLDWYN COMPANY, 10203 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067.
MIRAMAX FILMS, 375 Greenwich St., New York, NY 10013.
NEW LINE CINEMA, 888 7th Avenue, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10106.
TOUCHSTONE PICTURES, Walt Disney Company, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES, 100 Universal City, Universal City, CA 91608, Tom Pollack, President
MGM, 2500 Broadway St., Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061.
AMBLIN ENTERTAINMENT, 100 Universal Plaza, Bungalow 477, Universal City, CA 91608.
Jack Valenti, Motion Picture Association of America, 1600 Eye Street N.W., Washington, DC 20006.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright