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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fox News: Values Network for Adults Only

Fox News: Values Network for Adults Only
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

If you haven't seen the "Fox News Porn" video yet, you really should do so — it's mostly "safe for work," at least insofar as anything aired on Fox is safe for work, I suppose. That's part of the contradiction created by this compilation of clips taken from Fox News stories: each was aired on a news channel that markets itself to "values voters" and conservatives, but most of it is not only of questionable taste and value, but would be difficult to justify seeing in a workplace or family setting.

Why do you suppose Fox News relies so heavily on so much titillation and can get away with showing so much about sex while retaining their "conservative" image (among conservatives, at least)? In one sense, there isn't really a contradiction here: if you've already watched the video, go back to watch it again and pay close attention to it. Go ahead, I'll wait....done? Good. Did you notice that all the people shown in sexual situations or with little dress were women? Did it occur to you that no men were portrayed in the same way?

I'll bet you didn't, and that's part of the point. By reinforcing the image of women as little more than sex objects, Fox News is in fact serving certain conservative interests by promoting the idea of a woman's place being beneath men — in more ways than one. So much sexual content isn't consistent with a strict religious view of life, but so long as the sex occurs within marriage, it does help that women aren't seen as much more than sex objects.

Beyond that, though, we have to wonder what's going on. Do the "values voters" even notice or think about what they are seeing? Perhaps not. Maybe they think that they can handle the content while "others" cannot — an attitude that occurs quite often in sexual matters. The history of censorship is one of censoring the sexually arousing material favored by lower classes while leaving the material favored by upper classes ("classy" erotic literature) alone.

This has been justified in part by the allegedly superior cultural qualities of "erotica" and in part by the idea that the more refined upper classes could handle the sexual arousal in ways that the lower classes simply couldn't. Of course, the sexual content on Fox News tends much more towards the "Girls Gone Wild" end of the spectrum than anything even remotely literary, so such excuses would be tough to defend even in one's own mind. Nevertheless, I wouldn't be surprised if there might be a little bit of it going on.

Those who favor conspiracy theories might wonder if the sexual content exists for ulterior motives. Perhaps it is designed to draw in viewers who are not otherwise attracted to right-wing-commentary-disguised-as-news in the hopes of influencing their long-term political opinions while their conscious mental filters are overwhelmed with images of nearly-nude women ("one more button and I'll be able to see them!"). I'm not going to go so far as to advocate that explanation, but to be honest, I'm not sure I could argue effectively against it, either.

Whatever the reasons for a "values voters'" network emphasizing sex so much, it's a situation that bears thinking about. The original poster, by the way, was about avoiding VD. Appropriate, don't you think?

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