Court Asks: If Fleeting Expletives Are Okay, How About Fleeting Nudity?

from the flashers-on-tv dept

We recently wrote about the Second Circuit appeals court ruling that the FCC's policy against "fleeting expletives" on broadcast TV was ruled unconstitutional, and that's now raising some other questions as well. A separate case, also in the same circuit, involves the question of whether or not a similar policy over "fleeting nudity" is equally problematic. As you may recall, the show NYPD Blue got a ton of attention back in 2003, for showing 7-seconds of a bare backside (which apparently was once the top rated clip on YouTube, despite it happening a few years before YouTube even existed). The FCC used a similar "fleeting nudity" policy to threaten to fine ABC affiliates for airing the show. However, the court in that case is now asking whether or not the recent ruling over expletives has any bearing on the question over nudity. Of course, you could question how "fleeting" it is for a filmed drama (as compared to the expletives, which were live events). But, at the same time, the wide availability of that same video (and, um, a ton of other much more graphic videos) to anyone with a computer might raise questions about why it even matters?


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  1.  
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    Michael Long (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:51pm

    Because we can show machine gun firefights, explosions, and dismembered bodies, but we can't show nudity. Because we have to think of the children?

    Or, more to the pont, because the moral minority would have a hissy-fit?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Full frontal singing cows nudity counts too?

     

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    scarr (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    To mention the obvious

    This would mean the whole Janet Jackson thing was pointless...which most people knew anyway.

     

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    Keven Sutton (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    I wonder...

    If memory serves me correctly (and it's false as often as it is true) then simple nudity in a non-sexual context is well protected by first amendment rights, having plenty of rulings, though none come to mind.

    So, if allowing non-sexual nudity is fully protected by the first amendment, would that bring about a nudist "Renaissance"? could this be the beginnings of the all nudist channel? Will restaurants start having nude and non-nude sections? In the end, doubtful. But at least it's fun to think of the possibilities. It could be a burgeoning sector of the US economy, much like Marijuana is becoming.

     

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    interval (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    The Moral Reality Here

    Is there anything more schizophrenic in the US than nudity or sexuality? If there is I'd like to hear about it. Rick Steves is a popular PBS (American Publicly Funded Television) star, and he was a travel author long before he became a PBS producer, and whose production (both written and televised) I enjoy. His shows take the form of one hour travelogues of mostly places in Europe, but I recently caught an episode that consisted of behind the scene takes and mistakes. Very entertaining. But in one scene he talked about viewer mail and how a few viewers took exception to the nudity in some of the classical art that he shows on occasion. We're talking classic Roman & Greek statuary, Baroque cherubs, pieces dating back 2500 years, and all of it incredibly historic.

    Sometimes I take exception to a somewhat common notion I see on international chat boards from Europeans that American's are a rather dull lot, but sometimes I have admit it seems rather justified.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:13pm

    Re: I wonder...

    Nudity won't gain wide acceptance until they figure out a way to tax it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: I wonder...

    Now they want to tax me for having the shirt off my back.... Oh look a penny on the ground. I guess I'll just bend over and take it.

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: I wonder...

    Dude watch...out...damn...too late...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Re: The Moral Reality Here

    May the puritan cast the first bra..Uh, I mean..boobies!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    It was Dennis Frantz's butt (or however you spell it.)

    That by itself should be illegal. If you are going to show 7 seconds of butt, at least make it a good one.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    It was Dennis Frantz's butt (or however you spell it.)

    No, it was Charlotte Ross's butt that resulted in this fine. Let's just say that it would be on the other end of the spectrum from Dennis'.

    If you are going to show 7 seconds of butt, at least make it a good one.

    Yeah, well, they did. And it got them fined.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Nude Ballet

    I remember turning on the TV one evening back in the mid 1970's and tuning to the local PBS station in Dallas and they were broadcasting a nude ballet. That was back when PBS had a little more autonomy, I guess, because you sure wouldn't see that today.

     

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    Zacqary Adam Green (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    I was always under the impression that showing butts was fine after a certain hour, but boobs, balls, dongs, and vaginas were off limits. Kind of like how it's perfectly okay to say "damn," "ass," and "crap," but not "shit" or "fuck." (And I could've sworn that it was once okay to say "asshole" and "god damn," but now for some reason you can only say "ass[bleep]" or "[bleep] damn." Because those are the offensive parts of the phrases, apparently.)

    I guess I was mistaken in figuring that the censorship rules were more arbitrary than draconian.

     

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    Andrew (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    Every network has its own rules. Some won't air asshole, some will do so gleefully. Hell, some will bleep 'jesus' when used as an exasperated swear.

     

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    Blatant Coward (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience.

    Shelley Winters


    Amen.

     

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    NAMELESS.ONE, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:12pm

    we have so little to do that we must invent stuff syndrome

    yup judges need employment copyright can do you only so much?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:54pm

     

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    tezza, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:10pm

    Network television, here in Oz, must be guttersnipe fare compared to network television in the U.S. (I've not been to America.)

     

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    techflaws.org (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 2:27am

    But think of the children!

    "might raise questions about why it even matters?"

    Exactly. I don't think a nude breast/ass could possibly harm anyone. Then again, in Europe they air commercials at 7 p.m. on any channel with naked women lying on a chandelier saying how much drinking milk shaped their bodies.

    Granted not very convincing but easy on the eye nonetheless.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 5:49am

    Just to point out... wasn't the problem with the "fleeting explative" bit that the rules were unclear? And that uncertainty chilled speach, leading to the unconstitutional call? I don't think you have the same level of uncertainty in terms of nudity -- everyone "knows" what's considered nudity (nipples and genitals in the US, as I recal). So it wouldn't have the same "chilling" effect on expression.

    That being said, America's dysfunctional relationship with sex and nudity (especially compared to their embrace of gore and violence) is sad.

     

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    DH's Love Child (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 11:23am

    Re:

    Just to point out... wasn't the problem with the "fleeting explative" bit that the rules were unclear? And that uncertainty chilled speach, leading to the unconstitutional call? I don't think you have the same level of uncertainty in terms of nudity -- everyone "knows" what's considered nudity (nipples and genitals in the US, as I recal). So it wouldn't have the same "chilling" effect on expression.


    Um, since when is the spoken word the only form of expression protected by the Constitution?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 6th, 2010 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re:

    I never said it was -- but the reason that the fleeting explatives were struck down was because their rules were unclear and caused uncertainty that chilled speach. I don't believe that "feeling nudity" would fit in the same mold because the rules on nudity (nipples and genitals) are much more clear and understood.

     

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