Tuesday, September 23, 2008

KNBC Shows A Little Censor-tivity

The Militant doesn't talk about television all that much, as he doesn't really watch that much television. In fact, this bike-riding Militant spends more time driving a car than watching TV (and that's really saying a lot). He would much rather write about real-life Angeleno adventures than stuff on the boob tube.

But check this out: While the Militant watched NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien on Monday night, at about 12:45 a.m., the host sets up a comedic bit about the recently-activated (and more recently-shelved) particle-smashing Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. O'Brien then exclaims, "Let's see what other things we can collide..."

Just then, the screen instantly cuts to the KNBC4 Los Angeles "Special Report" graphics, with viewers no doubt watching with a confused, "WTF is going on here?" sentiment and anchorwoman Colleen Williams greeting the viewers with this:

"We are live here at the news desk and we will return to Late Night shortly. Right now, Conan is showing a comedy sketch about trains crashing, and in light of recent events, we feel it's inappropriate to show it to you..."

Then she proceeds with a quick update story on the presidential race, a quick weather segment and a couple minor local stories before returning to Conan.

The Militant was like, "Whoa!" that's kind of different. For people watching in the Southern California area, memories of the September 12 Metrolink accident still linger.

Admittedly, it seemed a little bit of an overreaction; the Militant is probably sure the comedy skit might have lasted all but a few seconds, and that the offending trains resembling nothing like the rolling stock that 48,000 Southern Californians commute on daily.

But still, 26 people no longer have their lives, and over a hundred more are lying in hospital beds either recuperating or fighting for their life.

Of course, appropriateness rules supreme in these crisis-filled times. No doubt the Scorpions' '80s hit "Rock You Like A Hurricane" isn't getting any airplay right now in the Gulf Coast of Texas.

So did KNBC overreact? Or was it a justified show of sensitivity for the victims of Metrolink 111 and their families?


Soul Brother No. 7 said...

Yeah, I was up doing some work when that came on last night and was immediately all over the nerd box looking for commentary. It popped on in the background so suddenly, I thought it was part of the bit or a special report about something having just popped off.

I find it funny that they censored Conan, but were showing Heroes (and teaser commercials all week before then) with a character tryna get hit by a train on purpose. So I guess they understand context there, but not on Conan, when nowhere near as many people are up?

Ed Greenberg said...

I think it was OK to take it out. There is nothing funny about a train wreck in a city where a serious one recently occured.

Christine Lavin has a funny song about people jumping out of a burning high-rise that she stopped doing after September 11.

In the interest of objectivity, CBS could make the offending video available on the web for those who want to see it.

Push content (TV?) needs a bit more restraint than pull content.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing funny about the train wreck, but there's also nothing funny about the network stepping in to censor what I'm allowed to find funny or not funny. I'd rather be offended than have content censored out because channel 4 thinks it's too early.

They should have played it as is, and then if people were so upset or offended by it, they could have taken it into their own hands and complained to the Conan O'Brien show. The public should be allowed to form their own opinions about what's right or wrong, not some anchorwoman with a filler weather report. If it pissed enough people off, they would stop watching his show, and maybe he would get the hint.

I find most of Sarah Palin says on TV to be a lot more offensive than any bad taste jokes Conan might have made, yet no one is censoring her or cutting out her content because it's inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

The anchor woman pointed out that the reason for the censorship was because "Conan is about to do a joke about trains colliding...". What people seem to be failing to realize is, the joke in question had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH A TRAIN WRECK! I was about, as you say, the particle collider for crying out loud! The only relationship between the two events have is the word "collide".

I guess for a news team to actually know what is going on in the news is asking a bit much. These guys couldn't look like bigger idiots.

Unknown said...

I agree with Foodeater and Anonymous completely. Come on! Censorship like this is another infantilizing aspet (ooooh, can't let the children seeeeee and maybe feel UPSET) of the growing Clampdown. Ever heard that song by the Clash about Working for the Clampdown? Welcome aboard!