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September 23, 1993 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-23

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, September 23, 1993 -5

Beyond the violence of Bochco's "NYPD Blue"

It is a hot day in August and hand-
fulsofprotesterscucie outsio of Chan-
nel7 in Southfild. the reason for their
gathering: thedecisi o~ofABC, i;ietro-
Detroitaffiliate to air Steven Bochco's
TV series "NYPD Blue." The protest-

quickly fades as she becomesjealous of
her friend's relationship with him. The
two behave cattily for the greater partof
the episode, until the man finally breaks
up with Alexander,just in time to save
the women's friendship.
The episode, with its insulting de-
piction of relationships between
women, makes one point completely
clear: nothing is as important as having
a man.

I tune in again a few weeks later,
hoping that this time the show will be
about the magazine that Latifah is
starting, orthe caseon whichAlexander
(who plays an attorney) is hard at work.
Once again Iam disappointed.
This week, Alexander's ex-boy-
friend calls her up to have dinner, de-
claring thathe will bring his new fianc6e.
She invites the couple over and pro-
ceeds to make an idiot of herself pre-

tending that the building handyman is
"herman."After all, she reasons, herex
won't think very much of her if she
does not have a male body by her side.
Never mind that she has a good job, a
great apartment and wonderful friends.
The message of this episode all but
mirrors that of the first. And as the
Surgeon General's report on violence
in children reveals, kids are quick to
internalize what they view on the TV

screen.
The implications of "Living Single"
(and the multitude of shows and televi-
sion commercials with equivalentmes-
sages) will have played no part in the
next ATM shooting committed by an
eight-year-old. But as I watch my
housemates sit around miserably wait-
ing for phone calls from would-be suit-
ors, and sit in on my friends' eight
millionth deep discussion on how dif-

ficult it is to meet men, I wonder how
many little girls will some day go
through the same deliberations cour-
tesy of shows such as this one.
ABC affiliates in states across the
country spent months this summerdis-
cussing whether or not to air "NYPD
Blue." Similar amounts ofdebate should
begin going into broadcasting shows
whose detrimental effects lay on the
other side of the body bag.

ers, most of whom have never seen
the show, march incircles, picket signs
in tow to convince Channel 7 to re-
verse their decision, thereby saving
area children from a prime time pro-
gram they have heard contains Vio-
lence, Sex and Profanity.
TheDetroitprotestisneitheralarge
nor an original one. "NYPD Blue" has
been the subject of controversy in se-
lected circles for months, spawning
protests and letter writing campaigns
across the country. Indeed, the reaction
to the show (which Bochcohimselfhas
admitted is an effort to do network's
first R-rated series) should come as a
surprise tono one as violence on televi-
sion has been an explosive issue as far
back as most of us can remember.
But the scrutiny has become more
acuteoflate.InJuly, afterseveralrounds
of congressional hearings aired con-
cerns about violence pn TV, the four
networksannouncedthatbeginning this
month, they would start tacking warn-
ing labels onto shows with especially
high levels of what Tune magazine
euphemistically calls "mayhem." The
labels will read as follows: "Due to
some violent content, parental discre-
tionadvised."
Perhaps this label, which clearly
stops agood deal short of censorship, is
a step toward a positive. After all, the
Surgeon General's reporthas for years
linked violence on television with vio-
lence in children. If the Surgeon Gen-
eral is correct, than the fact that violent
crimecommittedby young people is on
the rise in this country (as anyone who
watches the six o'clock news, arguably
television's most violentprogramming,
will tell you) is due in part to TV
violence.
From 1986 to 1991,murders com-
mittedbyAmericanteensages 14to 17
grew by 124 percent. This statistic
calls for drastic measure, and one rela-
tively simple place to start is on a
screen with which the average high
school kid spends two hours and 43
minutes a day. With all the focus in
both the public and private sectors on
violence on television, however, other
harmful programming trends are be-
ing dangerously overlooked.
A few nights after seeing the news
* coverage of the "NYPD Blue" protest,
I sit on my couch ready to relax with a
couplehours of mindless network situ-
ation comedy. I flip on FOX and smile
contentedly when I see the familiar face
of Tootie, or rather a grown-up Kim
Fields, with a role on the new show
"Living Single."My contentment, how-
ever, proves ephemeral.
The show tells of four Brooklyn
womenplayedbyFelds, Queen Latifah,
Kim Coles and CrikaAlexander. All are
young, successful women surviving, as
the show's title implies, single, i.e. with-
out parents, withoutmen. The premise
makes"Living Single" in theory a won-
derful show for little girls to watch,
giving them a veritable pool of role
models from which to select.
In theory.
The episode I watch is replete with
the usual insipidtelevision humor. Pre-
dictable and not at all funny. But even
less amusing than its calculated one
liners is the plot of this episode of
"Living Single." Fields breaks up with
aman she finds dull, only for her friend,
played by Alexander, to begin dating
him. Fields' disinterest in this man

I

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Lord of the Land
Continued from page 1
which told the truth about the War-
ren Commission.
Wemnanaged to obai a post-
ponement in court, despite the fact
that Jon walked into court armed
only with a series of charts linking
our landlord to the Hoffa assassina-
tion, hoping this would distract the
Court from the case at hand, in

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