February 11, 2002

 

Porn

written by
Lynn Trenning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more about Lynn Trenning, please visit her main page.

aired on WFAE, February 11, 2002

Why did Charlotteís local Public Broadcasting Station decide not to televise an episode of Frontline that explores and exposes the pornography industry? "In the city of churches, we just didnít feel it was appropriate," said Hal Bouton, President of WTVI, Charlotteís PBS station. What pusillanimous drivel.

What does the label "A City of Churches" say about Charlotte? According to this comment, it first of all implies we are homogenous, which is blatantly false. Secondly, it suggests that people who go to church ought not be exposed to certain things. Third, it assumes that church going people are not equipped to struggle with difficult issues. The excuse is meager and condescending, and truly undermines the quality of debate in this city.

Charlotte joins Utah and Oklahoma in not airing the documentary entitled "American Porn." As far as I can tell, itís not because we donít like pornography here. We have plenty of access to it. X-rated video stores line the streets from the airport to downtown. Topless bars advertise $5 dances on billboards. Last week I was stuck in traffic in the center city on Morehead Street. It was just before noon on a weekday, and a group of men stood in line at the front door of the Uptown Cabaret. They ranged in age from 20s to 60s, and most wore suits. I donít think they were there for the lunch buffet.

In this city where business is king, "American Porn" promises to encourage uncomfortable conversation. It exposes the extent to which the Marriott and Westin hotel chains, AT & T, and General Motors are all in the pornography business. Like many pieces of hard-hitting investigative reporting, it is provocative and controversial. It contains offensive language and unsavory images.

I do know that in Charlotte we like our pornography behind closed doors, in the form of pretty young women who donít wear shirts. As long as we play by these rules, we can justify pornography in a hundred ways. Meanwhile, Charlotteans have been denied an educational opportunity to analyze the industry. There are not many television programs that enjoy the reputation for integrity and quality that Frontline does. How ironic that no one ever censures "Fear Factor" or MTV.

When Charlotte wants to be a player she puts on her "world class city" hat. This allows her to market herself to professional sports franchises, banking conglomerates, and international manufacturing plants. When confronted with disturbing social issues, Charlotte conveniently dons her "small town Mayberry hat."

Sex is for sale every minute everywhere. On television it is alluded to repeatedly from daytime soap operas to prime time sitcoms. It sells clothes, cars, movies and books. Besides love, power and money, itís all that matters.

This censorious action protects the public from the ugly business side of what weíve come to accept as an entertainment industry. This is a paternalistic decision to protect our delicate sensibilities. It is gutless and I am embarrassed by it. We deserve much better from our public institutions.

~ Lynn Trenning

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