Monday, November 12, 2012

Reading: “Big Bird Flies Right” (PBS); "Introduction," Television and the Performing Arts, by Brian G. Rose. Post comments on the reading here.


  1. Well this explains why Romney wanted to take funds away from PBS. PBS is considered liberal, and there are controversial programs shown on the channel. As one of the independent producers said, "PBS is one of the few places that welcome serious documentaries." And it's true! The latest one I've watched was the graphic documentary "Half the Sky," based on Nicholas Kristof's book on sex slavery. PBS has always been a big part of my life and I've learned so much from PBS and PBS kids it really surprised me when I read how certain politicians want to take that same privilege I had, away from growing generations today. Sure, Gingrich claims there weren't enough conservative voices on PBS, but PBS is more of a raw network. They show things that most people wouldn't air because it may not gather as many views...During this course we see time and time again that CBS was always given the best of everything at first, including in the arts. Nevertheless, PBS now has the best performing arts programs. It's really one of the only networks that gives a wide array of culture programs. And isn't that what we need in America today??? To become more culturally aware? Well, thank you PBS. :)

  2. When reading of how the National Review called for an investigation into the "left wing bias of the public television", it honestly seemed like an non-issue, a distraction from the larger issues that were at hand (like the crack wars in inner cities and the rise of AIDS). Out of all the problems facing America, the Reagan administration took time to rail against PBS? I remember during the Bush administration there was a short lived campaign against the segment Traveling with Buster. The reason for the hoopla was that Buster met a lesbian couple. Conservative family organizations were incensed. But when human sexuality is an affront to the decency of decent folks, when such things remain taboo and "deviant", what message are we sending children? Furthermore the reason why I love PBS and NPR, and other publicly funded programming, is that they try to paint an accurate depiction of the American experience, all of it, not just the idealized aspects. And yes, there are queer people in America. How shocking! I fully support questioning and recognizing bias in programming, and admittedly I am not a good judge of what's liberal or conservative (I identify with neither). But I feel that the benefits of PBS outweigh the dangers of liberal media brainwashing (and how incredibly condescending to think that people are that easily manipulated). Not everyone can afford tickets to see a ballet, but they can afford to watch it on their TV. That's access, and to me, that's democracy. Plus the hate speech perpetrated by the likes of Newt Gingrich (a la his comments about the Muslim community) makes his tirades against the supposedly insidious nature of PBS and children's programs like Arthur absolutely laughable.

  3. I think this article became quite appropriate since Romney's comments on wanted to cancel Big Bird. Especially after Gingrich said that nobody would take on PBS again.
    Pat Mitchell left CNN and cable news for PBS because unlike cable, PBS wasn't in it for the money or specific pressures/agenda. So what do conservatives have to fear? There's no liberal agenda, just one of the few places left on television for education rather that brainwashing. There's no hiding from the reality of sex slavery (via the documentary Noor watched) or the genocide in Rwanda, so while cable news may try to ignore it, PBS puts it out there. What's wrong with that?

    I do agree that having a party figure (big or small, in this case Mrs. Gingrich) on PBS may be seen as inappropriate and PBS "leaning," but wasn't Mrs. Obama on Sesame Street somewhat recently? I'd be interested to know how that process went through but Mrs. Gingrich's appearance sparked a debate worth writing about. Granted she talked about eating healthy, but could it not be seen as a plug for her campaign against childhood obesity? Don't get me wrong, I'm against that, but it was a plug, the same way Mrs. Gingrich's book plug would've been.

    1. These pieces were interesting. I find it funny how when the right puts pressure of public broadcasting 'Big Bird comes out and says "Why are you trying to kill me?"' This has become relevant the past few weeks since the election, when Gov. Romney suggested we cut funding for PBS and there was the million puppet march in Washington. We do have to critically assess the value of public broadcasting and the shows they are producing. Who are they serving and what is the quality of those programs?

      I agree with Newton Minow's attack on the commercial networks, '"Is there one person in this room who claims that broadcasting
      can't do better?" Minow angrily warned, "Gentlemen, your trust accounting with your beneficiaries is overdue. Never have so few owed so much to so many (TV and the Performing Arts p. 7)

      PBS, like every other television station in America, operates under the pretense of serving America. Unlike radio in its glory days and even today in many ways, the power to distribute content over TV has never been readily available to every man. Therefore, those who control the content need to be more accountable to Americans in what they are showing.

      That is why it was so difficult for the big networks to find time and funding for cultural programming. They would squeeze it in on Sunday mornings and afternoons, when they didn't have much going on. Big networks shouldn't cast that burden onto public broadcasting for the sake of their bottom lines, it is one that SHOULD be shared by all the networks even though that's just a dream.