The Parents Television Council has compared the 2010-11 and 2011-12 broadcast television seasons and found a 407% increase in what the watchdog group characterizes as "full nudity." Specifically, the PTC identified 76 incidents of full nudity (which are typically blurred, black-barred, pixelated or obstructed) on 37 shows in 2011-12, compared to 15 such incidents on 14 shows the prior year. Nearly 70% of those shows aired prior to 9:00 p.m., and only five included the "S" for sexual content warning in their rating-descriptor box. Melissa Henson, director of communications for the PTC, told Fox News, "For years executives at the broadcast networks have been telegraphing their intent to follow in the footsteps of premium cable networks like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime, and as this data shows, they are doing exactly that."
Regarding the networks' practice of blurring nudity, Henson said, "The impact is virtually the same as actually showing it. Just as 'bleeping' an 'f-word' or 's-word' is virtually the same as airing the actual word. It just calls attention to the thing that has been edited out." Psychologist Nancy Irwin concurs, telling Fox News, "Simulated or blurred nudity can be just as titillating as real nudity in the human brain. Upon any stimulus, the brain searches for anything remotely similar or familiar, and reacts in a similar manner. If something is missing—as in pixelization—the brain will fill in the blanks from the existing storehouse of knowledge. Indeed, it will work harder to do so than if the real image were there. This explains why fantasy is many times better than reality. It triggers our imagination, which is endless." [parentstv.com, 8/20/12; foxnews.com, 8/23/12 stats]
Salt Lake City's NBC affiliate, KSL-TV, announced it will not be airing the Peacock Network's new sitcom The New Normal this fall, a series that revolves around a homosexual couple. "After viewing the pilot episode of The New Normal, we have made the decision to keep it off our fall schedule," said Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL's parent company, Bonneville International. "For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time." The same station, which is owned by the Mormon church, refused to air NBC's The Playboy Club last fall.
The decision drew immediate criticism from GLAAD and from actress Ellen Barkin, one of the stars of the show. "While audiences, critics and advertisers have all supported LGBT stories, KSL is demonstrating how deeply out of touch it is with the rest of the country," said GLAAD president Herndon Graddick. "We invite Jeff Simpson to sit down with GLAAD and local LGBT families. We know that if he would, he would see that not only are our families normal, but by citing 'crude and rude' content and refusing to affirm LGBT families, KSL and Mr. Simpson are sending a dangerous message to Utah. They should make that right." Barkin, meanwhile, blasted the decision via Twitter, writing, "Anyone in Utah interested in @NBCTheNewNormal please clog up @ksl5tv feed 4 their blatantly homophic decision 2 not air the show #KSLBigots." In another post, she tweeted, "Shame on u @kslcom not airing @NBCTheNewNormal So L&O SVU (rape & child murder) is ok? But loving gay couple having a baby is inappropriate?" [aceshowbiz.com, 8/27/12; huffingtonpost.com, 8/25/12]
Taylor Swift's latest single, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," moved a massive 623,000 downloads its first week—the most ever for any female artist and a tally that trails only longtime record-holder Flo Rida for the No. 1 spot. (The rapper's hit "Right Round" sold 636,000 units its first week in February 2009.) Swift's latest hit is her 46th to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, but just the first to reach the vaunted top spot on the chart—the most charting songs ever by an artist before finally reaching No. 1. [billboard.com, 8/21-24/12 stats]
"You know what, I switch it from day to day—I don't wear it exactly every day anymore, but I always have something there. When I was 13 my mom spoke to me about purity and waiting for marriage and different things like that. And, you know, at the time I was like, 'Sure, that's great,' but I can't say what's gonna happen a couple of months from now. People grow."
—former American Idol champ and Sparkle star Jordin Sparks, in a conversation with Hoda Kotb on the Today show [globalgrind.com, 1/31/12; washingtonpost.com, 1/30/12]
"Since the public fascination [with Kristen Stewart's affair with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders] doesn't look to be dying down anytime soon, online retailer Skreened saw a publicity moment, and is now offering a T-shirt that reads, 'Kristen Stewart is a Trampire.' To round out the unofficial 'We Hate Kristen' collection, there's also 'Kristen Stewart F***ing Sucks' and 'F*** Kristen Stewart,' which is, of course, reminiscent of the Team Aniston and Team Jolie shirts that made a pop culture splash in 2005—with one huge difference. While the Team Aniston/Jolie shirts were pretty dumb, they weren't personally bullying anyone. You were just weighing in on the tabloid frenzy of the moment. "F*** Kristen Stewart" sure has a different—and crueler—ring to it. In a culture that is now hyper-aware of the effects of bullying, it seems really wrong to torment a 22-year-old, regardless of her fame level or any mistakes she may have made."
—Entertainment Weekly writer Erin Strecker [ew.com, 8/20/12]
"When pictures started circulating this morning of [Prince] Harry in his altogether after a night of strip pool in Las Vegas, they hit a perfect sweet spot, giving us a chance to check out the royal abs in their fancy suite while wondering exactly how dumb or poorly handled someone that rich has to be to keep landing in absurdly compromising situations. But the leaked photos are also a depressing reminder of how fast the market for compromising photos of the famous has outstripped our ability to consider what parts of people's lives they deserve to keep private. … It would be nice if we could agree that everyone deserves the chance to be young and stupid and harmless without having their naked silliness enter the permanent record. But the impulse to treat princes and princesses as property, rather than people, as paper dolls we can strip all the way down and dress up again in whatever clothes and narratives we'd prefer them to fit is strong. And the ability to make money off it is very, very easy. It's simple to cluck about invasions of privacy—and a lot more difficult to accept that honoring those principles would mean actually giving up something that's guilty, judgey fun. I shouldn't have clicked."
—Slate contributor Alyssa Rosenberg, in her article "I Shouldn't Have Looked at Those Naked Photos of Prince Harry" [slate.com, 8/22/12]
"Frequently, people curiously ask me, presuming I'm a knowledgeable authority: 'Does [Jennifer Aniston] really want Brad [Pitt] back?' 'Is she really that pathetic?' Or just, 'What's Jen really like?' Curiously, despite the endless stream of paper, film and bandwidth expended on the actual Jennifer, and the hours I've spent researching and reporting on her private life, I don't truly know. … The honest-to-God 'real' Jennifer, the one interviewers, celebrity magazine editors and their consumers attempt to disseminate, has been swallowed up by expectation. We've all fallen for something else, a gloaming between fantasy and reality. Despite having what seems to be unprecedented access to stars nowadays, through spontaneous tweets, a flourishing paparazzi trade that tracks their every move and blogs that speculate, postulate and ruminate over every detail of their off-camera moments, we apparently aren't really seeking absolute truth. We're seeking comfort."
—Los Angeles celebrity chronicler Suzanne Ely [huffingtonpost.com, 8/21/12]
"People have asked me, 'Why don't you just be a Christian comedian?' And I'm like, 'Why don't I just be a comedian that's a Christian?' I'm not saying there's anything wrong in being … I mean, there's some really funny ones out there. But me, I'm a big outdoorsman. I love to hunt and fish. I'm down on my farm right now. So I speak at things like wild game dinners, and the people that come to hear me come because I'm a comedian. I'm talking to a bunch of people that wouldn't go to a church; they've either been burned by it or turned off to it. But we have something in common in that we like to laugh and we like the outdoors. Then you kind of have an audience where you can say, all right, we've been laughing, but also consider this …"
—comedian Jeff Foxworthy, host of GSN's new Scripture quiz show The American Bible Challenge [christianitytoday.com, 8/22/12]