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September 23, 2006

Vegetative state

There’s (some) hope yet for the networks. Or, at least, NBC:

Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber always had a moral message in their long-running “VeggieTales” series, a collection of animated home videos for children that encourage moral behavior based on Christian principles. But now that the vegetable stars have hit network television, they cannot speak as freely as they once did, and that has got the Parents Television Council steamed.

The conservative media-watchdog group issued a statement Wednesday blasting NBC, which airs “VeggieTales,” for editing out some references to God from the children’s animated show.
“What struck me and continues to strike me is the inanity of ripping the heart and soul out of a successful product and not thinking that there will be consequences to it,” said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council. “The series is successful because of its biblical world view, not in spite of it. That’s the signature to ‘VeggieTales.’”
… Two weeks ago, NBC began airing 30-minute episodes of “VeggieTales” on Saturday mornings. The show was edited to comply with the network’s broadcast standards, said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.
“Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view,” she said.
“VeggieTales” creator Phil Vischer, who was responsible for readying episodes for network broadcast, said he didn’t know until just weeks before the shows were to begin airing that non-historical references to God and the Bible would have to be removed.
Had he known how much he would have to change the show—including Bob and Larry’s tagline, “Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much,” that concludes each episode—Vischer said he would not have signed on for the network deal.
… “If NBC is so concerned about that four-letter-word God, then they shouldn’t have taken ‘VeggieTales’,” [PTC’s Bozell] said. “This just documents the disconnect between Hollywood and the real world.”

Not to mention the disconnect between evangelicals and reality.

Oddly, PZ Myers thinks the network was wrong to scrub the show—NBC’s decision, he believes, is the thin end of a censorship wedge that could equally impact atheism.

Fair enough. But I really don’t want my kids exposed to religious BS when they flop down to watch TV—my youngest is none too discerning when it comes to kids’ shows, and chances are she would discover VeggieTales while channel-surfing. We’ve already gone through this with “Jay Jay the Jet Plane,” another dull-as-ditchwater show with a thinly disguised Christian agenda.

All in all, I’d prefer all religious messaging to be removed from kids’ programming: I’ll take the risk that the networks might somehow censor secularism too (although it’s hard to see exactly how). Young kids are impressionable, and mine are already exposed to enough God-talk from the handful of evangelical offspring at school.

As for the parents of those kids—along with all the other crazies represented by the PTC: if they want their children to, uh, “enjoy” propaganda with their programs, they can tune ’em in to one of the Christian channels.

Posted by Stephen at 3:05 PM in Education | Religion + cults | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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