Talk about your slippery slopes and sliding all the way to the bottom of the programming heap! Want to know what NBC is up to lately? The same network, which as Parents TV Council rightfully points out in a recent post on their web site was once home to family friendly programs such as The Cosby Show and The Wonderful World of Disney, recently began airing The Playboy Club as part of its fall line-up. The program is set in the 60’s and takes place at one of the clubs started by pornographer Hugh Hefner, also founder of Playboy magazine.
So what is this new show dishing out to society and what kind of messages is the program sending? Well, where does one begin? We can start with the over the top objectification and sexualization of women. Add to that the very sexist theme and title of the show. Then there is the obvious glamorization of pornography and the push to get a porn-based program into as many homes as possible. In a statement on their web site the Parents TV Council is calling for the outright cancellation of The Playboy Club.
“This isn’t a pay-per-view program available only to HBO or Showtime subscribers. The Playboy Club will be beamed into every living room in the nation, in prime time, over the publicly-owned airwaves. Do you want to explain to your channel surfing children what a “Playboy Club” is?”
Three days before the show aired on NBC Parents TV also blasted the network for using the Playboy magazine for cross promotional purposes even though producers claimed the show is not based on the publication. And just in time for the premier, Hefner added to the hype by dropping the magazine’s cost to 60 cents.
“The program is inseparable from the Playboy brand. Hugh Hefner is the narrator of the episode. He has timed the magazine price reduction to coincide with the broadcast and he is opening an actual Playboy Club, bunnies and all, in Chicago, just like the TV show. Clearly Hefner is looking to the broadcast TV program for the millions of dollars in free publicity he will receive, compliments of the publicly owned airwaves,” stated PTC president Tim Winter.
Another media awareness organization, Morality in Media, is also calling for viewers to contact their NBC affiliates. MIM has established an Internet campaign at www.closetheclubonnbc.com in hopes of getting the show off the air. The plan includes contact information for NBC executives and the show’s advertisers. It also provides web site visitors with plenty of information on the harmful effects of pornography. They’re asking viewers to sign a pledge promising not to watch The Playboy Club and to join in a boycott and their efforts to get the program pulled. The organization says NBC is now “contributing to and encouraging a highly dangerous sexualized culture.” Morality in Media points to Playboy magazine as encouraging the “objectification of women and marketing pornography with language that implies coercion and violence against women.”
About the only good thing to come out of this new show is the fact that some women’s organizations are finally speaking up and joining in the protests with conservative groups they normally oppose. In California the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women passed a resolution condemning the TV series and calling on the network to replace it with a series that “depicts women’s substantive achievements.” Even Gloria Steinem is jumping in, calling for a boycott. It’s an odd grouping to say the least seeing Gloria Steinem and Morality in Media on the same page, but more voices joining the anti Playboy Club chorus mean more pressure on NBC. It also sends a message to Hollywood that it’s not just those wacky Christian conservatives who are concerned about content so demeaning and degrading to women and so harmful to society. Strange mix indeed, but given today’s toxic media climate it is certainly worth a try.
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