TV Very Wary on Drug Abuse

TV Very Wary on Drug Abuse
Posted by FoM on August 28, 2001 at 07:31:50 PT
By R.D. Heldenfels 
Source: Akron Beacon Journal
It doesn't take much effort to find tales of substance abuse on television. Just yesterday morning, you could hop around channels and find: MTV reporting on Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean's return to performing after a stint in rehab; ESPN Classic discussing tennis star Jennifer Capriati's rebound from personal problems that included reports of drug use; and a replay of the TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, where a group of high-schoolers pass a couple of joints during a classroom break.
The casual drug use in Plastic Bubble is a clear sign of how long ago the movie was made -- in 1976. These days, many TV programmers approach such matters with considerable fear.The most publicized example of that lately has been MTV's dealings with Because I Got High, a hit song and video by Afroman.The song -- which details all the things Afroman didn't do ``because I got high'' -- will air only in the late-night hours and will not be part of Total Request Live, MTV's daily teen magnet.The Associated Press also reported that Because I Got High's video had all on-camera use of marijuana edited out, at MTV's request.But that's far from the only place that television treads carefully around drugs, especially when dealing with older productions.Trading Places, a 1983 big-screen comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, aired on TNT over the weekend without a scene in which Murphy prepares to enjoy a joint in a toilet stall.Fox sitcom That '70s Show has been coy about its characters' toking, showing them reacting to the marijuana they've obviously smoked -- but not showing the smoking itself.Maybe kids are supposed to think That '70s Show's teens are just naturally giddy.Still, That '70s Show knows the rules it must play by. And neither Afroman nor his record company had any public complaints about changing the Because I Got High video. Although the song is already a hit, play on MTV could make it an even bigger one.And it's good to know that some programmers are moving cautiously where drug and alcohol use is concerned.Celebrity excess and its results have become so common, one magazine recently printed a rundown on clinics being used by the stars.Still, tampering with older works of art to avoid offending modern sensibilities is a more difficult issue.Drug use, after all, is not the only issue on which attitudes have changed. Matters of race and gender also get reconsidered.The TNT-cut version of Trading Places also deletes the n-word, when one use of it is meant to provide a shocking glimpse inside one of the characters.Note: MTV pushes `Because I Got High' video to wee hours. Film scenes cut, shows tread carefully.R.D. Heldenfels writes about television for the Beacon Journal.Source: Beacon Journal, The (OH) Author: R.D. Heldenfels Published Tuesday, August 28, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Beacon Journal Publishing Co. Website: Contact: vop Related Articles: MTV To Air Popular Song About Marijuana Use Reading, Writing And Propaganda
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Comment #3 posted by Rambler on August 29, 2001 at 07:18:26 PT
I enjoyed the episode of 'King of The Hill',where Hank accidently had a hit of weed.It was a great masked statement in support of reform. The Simpsons has also done some good things about drugs.They slip around many tabboos,under cover of humor. I also think Futurama is a great show.In the first few episodes,Bender,the robot needs alcohol to remain functional.All three of these shows make excellent use of the cartoon format,to tread upon ground that is not so easily walked upon with actual actors.
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Comment #2 posted by mr.greengenes on August 28, 2001 at 13:43:58 PT
A couple of months ago,
 I saw Cheech and Chongs Next Movie on the WB. They eliminated all references to drugs. They edited the movie so that the duffel bag which Cheech's cousin had was full of diamonds instead of dope.Pathetic.
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Comment #1 posted by Ethan Russo, MD on August 28, 2001 at 08:20:47 PT:
Life is Ugly; Censorship is Uglier
Every time I see a story such as this, I cringe. This isn't the 1950's in Amerika, where supposedly, everyone was a virgin when they married, there was no domestic abuse, date rape, incest or any of the other things that the public with its conventional wisdom thinks began only later.I have news for you: life remains cruel, brutish and short, unless we rail against it, and strive for better. Although the nature of art is subjective, and some people offend easily, I am dead against censorship. The loss to society as a whole is too great if the morality of the few can prevail over intellectual curiosity of the many. Those who are offended can protest by failing to enter that museum, or avoiding that product, or merely averting their eyes. Revisionist history is a distortion. Lies invite greater abuse, and further erosion of civil liberties. Society needs to be open for the good of all.
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