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PATRIOTS REPORT

Bitches, Bastards & Boycotts

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Phase Two of our harassment research studied (1) the general

use of "bitch" (and "bastard") since "classic bitch" was

allegedly used to describe the female reporter, and (2) the

image of the NFL player. Our intent was not to exonerate an

individual or team, but to understand the general reactions,

which were mixed on (1) and mostly negative on (2).

 

Words are symbols which can lose their meaning through common

use. This is the greatest threat to comedian George Carlin's

skit, "Seven Words That You Can't Say On TV". But, if Frank

Perdue is correct in claiming that we are what we consume,

then we must be becoming "bitches" and "bastards," for we are

consuming more of these words lately. On cable TV these

words are so common as to be unremarkable; on the networks,

their use is growing. So, calls were placed into NBC, ABC,

CBS and FCC to understand their "appropriate" use of "bitch"

and "bastard".

 

At ABC TV, the use of "bitch" and "bastard" are handled on a

case by case basis which depends upon the character,

situation, audience expectation (which is determined through

a pilot) and show. Not every show is reviewed. "Bitch" and

"bastard" are seldom, if ever, used between 8-9 pm; rarely

used between 9-10 pm; and used on a case by case situation

between 10-11 pm. At NBC, the matter seems more fluid; there

are no hard and fast rules. The use of the words is based

on audience expectation with the time slot and the longevity

of the show being considered. CBS did not return our call.

With two thirds of the major networks already approving

situational propriety, the viewing public can expect

increased situations as one network competes with the

others... all of which compete with cable.

 

Americans are capricious in their assessments of an

individual. Still, we establish them as other symbols.

Lyndon Johnson, honcho of the 1964 Civil Rights legislation

which made this article probable, pulled the ears of his pet

dog and the country called him "abusive." John Kennedy

"womanized" in the White House (built and maintained by

taxpayers) and we confer "great leader" upon him by naming

public and private facilities after him.

 

What people think or eventually will think of Victor Kiam

will start to become known this holiday season. Whether they

boycott his company because he allegedly used "classic bitch"

to describe a woman reporter is a personal issue and not the

point of this research. The questions to which our research

lead are, "If these people feel so strongly about the word,

should they not feel as strongly toward the other sponsors of

networks shows which support their use. And secondly, "If it

is inappropriate for a corporate leader or any other person

to use such words today, will it be any different 10 to 15

years from now when the teenagers who are watching TV now are

in ownership/managerial positions?"

 

And since the Virginia Slims slogan has been used as a

section title elsewhere, might we also question the use of

the word "baby" in their slogan, "You've come a long way,

Baby." How different is this "baby" from the "Hey Baby,"

reportedly heard in locker rooms. If it is, how much so to

the ears of young people not aware of gender sensitivities.

Finally, is the advocacy of smoking a cigarette as "coming a

long way" the correct message that women wish to have in the

sponsorship of a women's professional sports?

 

There is more to boycott than just the current affronts.

"We but teach bloody instructions, which, being

taught, return to plague their inventor."

Macbeth

" O! Ye that love mankind!   Ye that dare
   oppose not only tyranny, but the tyrant,
Stand Forth! "
Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776