Madonna in 10 turning points for television by Usa Today
Madonna is in the list of 10 turning points for television in the online edition of Usa Today.
Journalist Robert Bianco explains that:
Anything today’s pop stars know about sensationalism, they learned from Madonna.
Long before the Britney kiss, Madonna used America’s peculiar blend of prudishness and prurience to get attention.
While her Open Your Heart video isn’t her most shocking one, it became a sexual turning point ? and a fair example of what kids have been watching for years on MTV while parents looked elsewhere. The video is a simulated peep show: Payment reveals a provocative Madonna clad, for the first time, in the leather corset that would become a trademark.
Here you have the seeds of the Super Bowl halftime: voyeurism, simulated sex and the mainstreaming of S&M imagery. What’s missing to Madonna’s credit, is that added touch of violence against women that really made Timberlake’s performance so vile.
Click on Full Article to read more.
Source: Usa Today.com
Article by Robert Bianco
The simple answer is that network television has followed the same path as American society, sometimes pushing a little ahead, but usually lingering a few steps behind. Like it or not, our public life is more openly sexual and profane than it was in the ’50s, and more so than it usually appears on broadcast TV, wardrobe malfunctions notwithstanding. Still, there’s no doubt that the increasing coarseness and lack of civility being broadcast into American homes has alarmed many viewers, as witness the furor over Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s bustier bust-up. The question is whether the tumult will have any longer-lasting effects on what we’ll see on TV.
Sometimes, the only way to know where you’re going is to look at where you’ve been. What follows are a few major milestones, for better or worse, in TV’s half-century trek:
1953: Lucy gives birth to Little Ricky
In a TV fantasy world, Lucy Ricardo’s pregnancy (prompted by the real-life pregnancy of Lucille Ball) was a major risk. The plot worried CBS, which was afraid viewers might pause to consider how Lucy got pregnant, a thought process the twin beds were designed to circumvent. But the show was allowed to proceed, with one stipulation: The word “pregnant” was never uttered. Lucy was “expecting.”
When those expectations were fulfilled and Lucy gave birth, the show’s ratings hit their peak, and a major barrier between TV and the real world collapsed.
1964: Peyton Place
One of life’s endangered joys is the allure of the forbidden. Inspired by a notorious “dirty book,” Peyton Place was prime-time television’s first successful soap. It ran twice, and sometimes three times, a week on ABC, introducing the larger night-time audiences to the dark secrets and forbidden sex stories that were already a staple of daytime. America couldn’t wait to be scandalized.
The main story centered on Constance Mackenzie (Dorothy Malone) and her illegitimate, gasp! ? daughter Allison, the role that made Mia Farrow famous. But they were just the tip of the soiled iceberg. Everyone was up to something.
Granted, we didn’t see anyone misbehave; this was still the early ’60s. But we heard about it, and that was enough to make the term “Peyton Place” synonymous with any place, story or family that has more than its natural quota of illicit behavior.
1971: All in the Family
During the war in Vietnam, television newscasts introduced us to all the images of a tumultuous era: the war, the anti-war protests, race riots and generational clashes. Those themes made their way into prime time through All in the Family, the first sitcom to deliver a snapshot of our lives, warts and all.
By using a bigot as its main character, this CBS landmark was able to address racial and political problems with a directness and honesty never seen before. Archie was Ralph Kramden being dragged into a new era, and he didn’t like it. But viewers did.
In some ways, Family was far more daring than the current sitcom climate allows, particularly in terms of its ethnic slurs and political tirades. One innovation did take, however: Family was the first show to get a laugh from a flushing toilet.
Toilet jokes. Those we still have.
1976: Charlie’s Angels
The gift the Angels gave to TV was sex, in its purest and simplest form. Oh, this ABC staple did give a nod to feminist sensibilities. The three female stars, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett, played smart detectives who solved cases with only a minimal assist from their unseen male employer. But those cases all seemed to require them to strip down or get wet.
Yet Angels’ most famous image didn’t come from the show. It came from a poster that revealed the outline of Fawcett’s nipple under her bathing suit.
At the time, many saw Angels’ success as a setback for the women’s movement. But remember this: If a little poseur like Justin Timberlake had smacked an Angel on the posterior, or even so much as reached his hand toward her breasts, an FCC complaint would have been the least of his problems. Women like the Angels knew how to defend their self-respect.
1981: Hill Street Blues
What All in the Family did for comedy, NBC’s Hill Street Blues did for drama. Instantly, television became more adult, in the best sense of the word. Gone were the tightly structured, slow-moving, antiseptic-looking cop hours of the past. Hill Street was chaotic and grungy and “real” in a way no drama had ever been before.
Hill Street also introduced a new openness about sexual behavior. The show frequently delved into its characters’ sex lives, often with amusing results. But those characters were all mature adults. There were no “hot” young rookies on the squad; no cop daughters running wild. If the show were made today, Captain Frank Furillo’s teenagers would be the ones having sex, and he’d be standing around wondering what to do about it.
1986: Madonna and MTV
Anything today’s pop stars know about sensationalism, they learned from Madonna. Long before the Britney kiss, Madonna used America’s peculiar blend of prudishness and prurience to get attention.
While her Open Your Heart video isn’t her most shocking one, it became a sexual turning point, and a fair example of what kids have been watching for years on MTV while parents looked elsewhere. The video is a simulated peep show: Payment reveals a provocative Madonna clad, for the first time, in the leather corset that would become a trademark.
Here you have the seeds of the Super Bowl halftime: voyeurism, simulated sex and the mainstreaming of S&M imagery. What’s missing, to Madonna’s credit, is that added touch of violence against women that really made Timberlake’s performance so vile.
1987: Married … With Children
When Fox launched its first prime-time schedule in 1987, most observers thought the network’s best shots at success were two sitcoms with Oscar-winning stars: George C. Scott’s Mr. President and Patty Duke’s Karen’s Song.
Instead, the network’s establishing series was a raunchy assault on family life, Married … With Children. Billed as the “anti-Cosby,” Married was well acted and often undeniably funny, but more important, it set the “outrageous” tone Fox follows to this day. It also started a publicity pattern that repeats itself at least once a season. Offended viewers complained to the press, which reported on the complaints, which inspired even more viewers to watch the show to see what the fuss was about.
1991: The Jerry Springer Show
Jerry Springer provided a platform for people who had been shut out of TV. And now we can’t get them to shut up.
Springer was at the vanguard of a “trailer trash” assault that invaded, and sometimes seems to have conquered, American popular culture. His show represents the celebration of all forms of antisocial behavior, from the violence it purposely provokes to the incestuous sexual relationships that are Springer’s bread and butter.
Happily, Springer has lost popularity. But you can see the show’s impact in reality TV, which is often a thinly disguised attempt to re-create the problems and excesses people went to Jerry to confess.
1993: NYPD Blue
This ABC drama from Hill Street’s Steven Bochco was the first attempt to deal with one of TV’s most vexing current questions: How much less “explicit” than movies and pay cable can network TV be, and still be considered relevant.
Blue destroyed many of network TV’s oldest constraints. It let its cops use mild profanities and it created the network standard for acceptable partial nudity: Breasts can be seen, but only from the side, and people can be seen naked below the waist, but only from behind. It may sound silly, but it helped make a hit.
1998: Sex and the City
The pressure to bring network TV in line with cable standards increased with the success of HBO’s Sex, followed the next year by the even more popular The Sopranos. Overnight, network producers began clamoring for the “creative freedom” to be as risqué as Sex or as crude as The Sopranos.
They didn’t get it, and they won’t anytime soon. Broadcast TV is still not ready for full-frontal nudity or for the harshest of the Anglo-Saxon profanities, the FCC’s “seven dirty words.”
But the popularity of those HBO shows did push the network bar farther forward. Each big league profanity on The Sopranos seems to take the sting out of some corresponding minor league profanity, allowing it to filter down to the networks.