Two weeks ago it was all the talk on Fox and Friends weekend morning segment the national CBS Network turning down an adorable YouTube video of a little girl reciting the pledge of allegiance; apparently network executives citing the content as too political. At least that is what Fox and Friends reported; going on to call it unpatriotic and political correctness run amuck among other things, tone sneering that people have once again found something wrong with the pledge of allegiance, that people would dare disparage such a pledge to the country in which they were born. However, despite CBS’ given reason for discarding the ad, is it truly all that strange; everyone is sure many ideas, marketing concepts, theme songs for morning shows, background mock ups for programing get left on the drawing room floor, still more on the editing room floor when producers make their final choices, when they realize, as good as it sounded in R&D, it really doesn’t work put into practice, now that it’s on screen. Further we’ve seen terrible commercials, theme songs, slogans, jingles, morning show lead in’s that years later make it into the creepy files showcased on one of those worst of comedic shows, so why is this suddenly different from the thousands of other things never being presented to the public eye? Is it because it was the pledge of allegiance and we, at least they, can’t believe the controversy surrounding it in recent years, said controversy put up there as distastefully disgusting as American youth burning flags simply because they can, because they have the freedom to sans legal repercussions, or is it the cute factor and the question of who could reject that little face doing something so patriotic? Next is CBS being cannon fodder for late night comedians laughing at their ultra-political correctness, encouraging Americans all to laugh at them too or does their erring on the side of caution have real merit? Is there something bigger, something bolder about their choice that no, doesn’t point to the rapid decline of a nation but perchance the bettering of it in the willingness to, just once, rise above?
Perhaps it is a smart move for CBS understanding their goal is they want people talking about their content lineup, the plots of the latest shows, new dramas, thrillers and half hour comedies, coming back for old fan favorites, tuning in for coverage of popular sports, key events, not distracted by network scandal, questionable things put before people’s eyes in the form of advertisements. Maybe they should be forgiven for not inviting scrutiny from the atheists who, like wanting nothing to do with the 10 commandments in schools, displayed in government buildings, take issue with the line “one nation under god,” housed within the pledge and therefore will file complains about it being on national broadcast television. Others who regularly don’t participate in the pledge of allegiance, going to a sports games or a related venue where the audience might be asked to stand for its recitation, refuse on the grounds they can’t support the direction America is currently going in, it is no longer the country it was when they were born into it and this is their silent protest to bring back better days. Others, usually young people, when confronted with older generations staring down their nose at them, stand their ground noting they don’t live in communist China where unfailing national loyalty must be demonstrated at all times and on demand, asserting their right not to stand, not to sing, because they do live in a free country and won’t be forced into something a majority calls patriotic to satisfy persons with their noses out of joint over other people’s choices, that ironically do not affect them. Ideas reaching beyond events you pay to see, and to what is piped into our lives via television, the fact running such an ad could be interpreted by some as an attempt at indoctrination of citizens with extreme national loyalty in a time where the president incurs constant criticism and congress’ approval rating, though justifiably, is in the toilet. Par for the course, Fox News appears totally clueless and tone deaf to just how contentious, how indeed politicized the pledge of allegiance has become in recent years, even recent decades; recurring arguments over the pledge in schools, the terminology under god, should citizens of this country be allowed to abstain, opt out of participating in the pledge? Citizens themselves trying to avoid scenes depicted in the video below, that to participate in government meeting, to attend government meeting I have to stand for prayer to a god, I have to stand for the recitation of the pledge of allegiance or be subjected to arrest, avoid leaders thinking they have the constitutional, the legal authority to do what is seen playing out in a local municipality. So excuse CBS for choosing to sidestep the nonsense, avoiding the wrath of the atheists, avoid putting themselves in defacto league with the Christian right, which may lose the viewership of those with differing opinions, forgoing turning the conversation to commercials not aired during the super bowl, in which interest draws viewers, boosts ratings and viewing household numbers, but one measly ad for, the complaining public don’t even remember what it was selling, when they have a plethora of neutral, mainstream choices, big name sponsors paying more money for something absent the headache. Not to mention, contrary to Fox News’ strong implication, people refusing to stand for prayer, refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance are not the same people trying to join ISIS in Syria, posting jihadist, Muslim extremist messages on social media or trying to carry out their own terror plot; many of those are down home heartland type individuals raised exactly on the patriotism Fox News is championing, and after having it shoved down their throats, they end up on the news for crimes unspeakable against their nation, something to think about.
Another question, under what parameters, conditions was the video submitted in the first place; content, never mind ads, aren’t usually submitted by the public on a routine basis unless it is to specific shows’ contests, requests for local news happening in the area, weather photos. Only casual listeners catching part of the story could find a number of potential problems with the ad including the reality it contains a child and the added consent regulations to use the footage, did the person who filmed it have the proper permissions, quality of video shot on someone’s home video camera or cellphone, remember this is an ad selling a product not real time footage of say the protests in Ferguson, a home invasion, earthquake, even a funny prank gone viral, is it a good ad likely to draw people’s attention to the network, not just the product, in a positive light? Turns out, the ad was a local insurance company plug to be broadcast during a local rodeo subject to larger network approval, which was vetoed as “too political,” or this was an entirely local decision and Fox News’ beef is actually with the local affiliate, details not made clear in the commentary segment bringing it up. The latter would mean it got its national news legs because someone summited it to Fox News, not because CBS is under fire from the public, from local stations for, to be clear, not banning the ad but simply deciding not to air it, to go with something else. Unlike the Fox News host, no one called it offensive, no one implied hate for America over a sweet looking kid reciting the pledge of allegiance for the camera. In fact Fox News’ host is the singular one to claim CBS’ choice represents hatred of America, fellow hosts sitting on the couch following his lead, and his anecdote about working other places and them marveling at Fox News’ success, touting the reason as beginning with they don’t hate America is questionably accurate, blatant network self-aggrandizing that 4 year old could see through. For the record Fox News gets such high ratings because older generations 50 plus refuse to watch mainstream, they term it liberal media, because we have huge swaths of baby boomers whom Fox News’ slant is right up their ally and shamelessly pounces on, then pounds to dust whatever issue will get conservatives riled up and glued to screens rather than providing overall news. Retuning to CBS and the pledge of allegiance, they are obviously, pointedly saying we aren’t going to take the bait, we aren’t getting embroiled in the tug of war over the issue, we are not taking sides, we aren’t jumping into the fray; to that end no, you can’t run your ad. Further, assuming for a moment this is national, there is already an ad out there on all 3 broadcast networks selling veteran and veterans’ family insurance that is patriotic and accepted; an equally possible secondary set of reasons behind their conclusion is they attempted to avoid redundancy, confusion between that ad and the local one which could land them in hot water for false advertising, knowingly trying to deceive the public. Maybe they opted to distance themselves from a political motive, promoting patriotism with every ad they run, the notion they have any agenda apart from amassing viewers and earning money. Beyond providing quality news programs and popular shows that remains one of their primary goals; easily making the leap to, they create the two aforementioned things to generate dollars paid by sponsors, advertisers who want their products showcased where the most people are viewing, where their target audience is most apt to be paying attention. CBS made a choice, so what; they decided the only drama they want is on their fictional shows for our entertainment. It’s not like they were somehow sending mixed messages initially said yes, then abruptly said no; they simply said no outright to one of the who knows how many ads landing on their desks daily begging for consideration, begging to be aired for company X.
Worth remembering too this is the network who endured Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, Tim Tebow’s pro-life super bowl ad controversy, plagiarism allegations and a scandal over the coverage of Benghazi from their national news program divisions, who just before rendering a decision on the pledge ad pulled a popular Rihanna song from the theme music of Thursday night football in light of the Ray Rice domestic violence issue. Either owing to her past surrounding the problem, the vivid photo after an incident in a vehicle accompanied by her then boyfriend Chris Brown sure to surface again if her song was used, her choice to return to the relationship, the scorn that would attract from an outraged public. Echoing the MSNBC Morning Joe guest foreshadowing responses, “this is the face of domestic violence, domestic violence prevention?” The networks choice regarding the singer far more deserving of our attention if for nothing else than the buzz centering around their final determination, if for nothing else than, no matter how well intentioned, it too sends the wrong message. Appearing to blame, penalize, particularly financially penalize, the victim for having been a victim, blame the victim because she initially went back to her abuser, blame the victim for not using her celebrity as a platform to immediately speak out on the issue. Exactly where Mika Brzezinski, the conservative bent to MSNBC, went criticizing not only that Rihanna went back to Brown but a subsequent ABC interview muddling why she eventually left him, blasting her for then turning around and doing a music duet with Eminem singing lyrics in, “Love the way you Lie” (part 1), about liking the way it hurts while he sings about domestically abusing his girlfriend. Trying to tie that to the song CBS ultimately pulled from their NFL Thursday night theme, equally chastising them for attempting to use the song to begin with considering the contents of her music. Though they are entirely different songs about entirely different things; the song CBS originally intended to use was “Run this town” carrying zero lyrics about abuse of any kind. Had they used just the chorus, as seen with other popular songs including an Eminem lyric used in a Detroit based company’s national car commercial speaking to the revitalization of the area thanks to American car manufacturing, despite explicit lyrics in other parts of the song bleeped by radio stations, there would have been nothing controversial to discuss. Essence magazine’s Vanessa Bush falling into the same trap defending everything from potential motivations behind the Eminem duet including how old that song was, that she was singing about where she was mentally at the time, that she is not endorsing domestic violence via the song, whatever her motivations, rather using it to either lyrically describe the mindset of a woman going through it or as catharsis post an abusive relationship. Conveniently forgetting truths such as Eminem, all the things he has been accused of aside, has never been charged let alone convicted of domestic violence against his ex-wife or anyone else, Eminem who has repeatedly rapped about the distinct difference between the metaphors, scenarios, even skits, performance alter egos present on his albums and who he is in real, everyday life; proving music isn’t always or often literal, meant to be taken seriously, as a how to guide to anything. And if that is poignantly true of his music, why can’t it be true of everyone’s including Rihanna independent of the reality she was a victim of domestic abuse?
All the above missing a key, pivotal reality; regardless of what lyrics are contained in “Love the Way You Lie,” what they mean, how people could interpret them, imagine that, a white, blond, middle class and middle aged woman not understanding lyrics meant for black youth at least half her age, that is not the song CBS wanted to use making their treatment of Rihanna completely unjust, utterly stereotypical and drawing exactly the attention they didn’t want. Worse Brzezinski additionally confounds the issue, be that domestic violence or CBS’ handling of Rihanna, by having spent the previous segment quoting the lyrics to “Run This Town” reading in part [Feel it comin’ in the air/And the screams from everywhere/I’m addicted to the thrill/It’s a dangerous love affair]; citing it goes on in a tone indicating she doesn’t want to read the “vulgar” rest of the lines, attributing them to domestic violence. Brzezinski stops quoting there but the rest of the lyric going into the chorus plays: “Can’t be scared when it goes down/Got a problem, tell me now/ Only thing that’s on my mind/Is who’s gonna run this town tonight;” indicating they are actually talking about partying, potential criminal activity, if commenters are to be believed and the song was about Roc Nation and the Mafioso lifestyle. Truths left out sans the factual information also that this song is significantly older than “Love the Way You Lie;” predating her relationship with Brown, only they really know. Our host leaving off the feel it coming in the air line going directly to: hear the screams from everywhere, I’m addicted to the thrill, it’s a dangerous love affair willfully, purposefully skewing the song to mean what she wants it to mean, to fit into her mold of musically discussing domestic abuse; when the feeling in the air, the screams could be fan reaction to Rihanna coming on stage at a concert, being seem by fans in public, the addiction, the thrill could be to fame, doing performances, especially taking into account the rap section by Kanye West also featured on the song beside her and Jay-Z describing how fame, reaching stardom effected his, all their lives. A section including the line “Next time I’m in church please no photos among multiple annoyances that came with fame, not domestic abuse. Ordinary citizen commenters taking a stance nearly identical to the following “Donny [Deutsch] is 100% correct. This is not a reflection on the singer but a reality of business. Additionally, I would have dropped her because of her inappropriate tweet. If she had a complaint, she should have taken it up with CBS executives directly. By tweeting it, she positioned herself as being “above” CBS. Welcome to business reality, Rihanna!” Except there too the facts are missed, Rihanna sent the tweet after CBS unceremoniously dropped her song apparently without so much as a notification, prior to that having negotiated the use of the song for their NFL theme; then when they received a huge backlash from Rihanna fans, they tried to bring it back in and she called them on their crap. Whether she used the popular medium is irrelevant; Vanessa Bush got one thing right when she brought up why didn’t CBS invite her in to speak about, speak out against domestic violence, why did they conversely deliberately shut her out leading the singer to speak out on the only way, in the fastest place people were willing to listen? Yet instead of talking about this, women being more harshly stereotyped, penalized for their involvement in domestic violence, even when they themselves are the victims, taking one more opportunity to shout about the use of music with probable gang lyrics, Fox News made its own decision to talk about CBS’ outright, above board, ‘I’m not getting involved’ rejection of a video showing a little girl reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Surprising is the Christian right horrified by Miley Cyrus’ twirking performance on MTV, the TV 14 rating the music awards show received Morning Joe’s own Joe Scarborough took issue with, routinely forced to implement 15-30 second delays to bleep inappropriate content not suitable for primetime network viewing, audiences that may contain children, curse words, sexual references exc. is suddenly angry CBS is paying attention to what is on its airwaves, isn’t going the way of unregulated cable right under the FCC’s nose. Interesting the people always up in arms about freedom, civil liberties, who got what they wanted when the NFL chose to air the Tim Tebow ad in the 2010 super bowl, are now angry CBS decided to stay above the fracas, pull away from disparaging the pledge of allegiance; freely made a choice and now they have yet another problem. Of course these are the same people stirring the pot over president Obama’s “latte salute” and how that is disrespectful to marines, branches of military service; the little tidbit about that tradition not being started until 1981 under Ronald Regan being completely omitted. I guess every president from Washington to Carter was disrespecting the troops by not saluting them before the concept was thought up; at least the presence of a latte in his hand didn’t prevent him from saluting, being mindful of where he was and the small show of respect he should give. Or is their complaint it was too quick, too sloppy, too harried, but he had time to find a latte, god forbid the president give the customary show of respect and move on to whatever Marine One had brought him to the area to do, god forbid that while running a country, managing affairs of state and the increasingly volatile situation overseas, crafting foreign policies to deal with growing threats he have the basic pleasure of a coffee while doing it, have the caffeine to stay awake and do the job America elected him to do rather than worrying incessantly about what he looked like while doing it. Of course these are the people who are, or cater to, preachers prone to saying natural disasters on U.S. soil could lead to cannibalism, “your baby might start looking like a chicken wing,” connecting a Supreme Court justice to a satanic plot just because they are a democrat, a liberal. These are the people who will, or who support, those predicting when the world will end, the rapture of the Christian church will happen, down to the day, the hour, then, look like fools when it doesn’t happen. With all that’s going on in the world, this, what ad a network chooses to run during a sport, sports period, not necessarily watched by a large audience; this is what persons at a news show choose to care about, choose to elicit public opinion concerning?