Head Trauma’s Fine but Don’t Say “Penis”
By Mikey Sinn
Do you ever find yourself shaking your head in bewilderment about what is deemed offensive in America? Have you ever noticed the difference in standards between violent and sexual content on television? Does the majority of this country find sex to be that much worse than violence?
Like most Americans, I’m a sports fan. I love football, baseball, basketball and MMA. I wouldn’t call myself a fanatic, but definitely a fan. Like most American sports fans I watch ESPN and follow my favorite teams on the internet through various sites. When there’s a big story I tune in and read about it if it grabs my attention. In the last couple of weeks there have been two big stories in the NFL that have caught my attention and more so because of the difference in the way the stories have been covered.
I’m talking about the Brett Favre/Jenn Sterger scandal and the high volume of head to head collisions that occurred last week in the NFL. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the stories but for those who aren’t here it is in a nutshell: On one hand you have an NFL icon who has had his image used to sell everything from pants to heartburn medicine accused of making creepy advances to a female former Jets employee. The other story is about there being a ridiculous amount of concussion inducing hits in games last week and what could and should be done to prevent these from taking place.
When the Favre story broke I heard about it on Twitter and went to deadspin.com to read the story. In addition to the story, they had audio clips of Brett (allegedly) leaving messages inviting a woman he isn’t married to up to his hotel room. There were even photos of Favre’s (alleged) penis that he (allegedly) sent to her. After watching the video and reading the article posted there, I went to espn.com and sportsillustrated.com to see if they had any more news about it. To my surprise, I couldn’t find the story on either homepage. I watched a half hour of Sport Center later that day and didn’t see a thing about it. I checked the web again later that night and still couldn’t find Ms. Sterger’s name on either of those sites.
I checked again a couple of days later and saw that the story was finally being covered. It’s possible they may have started posting the stories the very next day, but I didn’t check. I found the stories on espn.com & si.com to be rather lacking. I found it funny the way these sites danced around the subject of what Good ‘ol Brett allegedly did. There was no mention of what these messages contained. I saw the same phrases over and over again. “Inappropriate text messages”, “lewd pictures”, “salacious photos” and even saw a “nasty” to describe Favre’s alleged indiscretions. Never once did I see anything about what the indiscretions were. I wasn’t expecting to see “Brett Favre really screwed up while he was playing in New York. He allegedly invited a hot piece of strange up to his room and thought sending pictures of his lunch box would seal the deal.” I was however expecting to see something about sending photos of his “penis” as well as making unwanted invites to his room. But there was nothing of the sort in the stories I read. Was that done to protect Favre? Did the decision makers feel that covering the details of the accusations would offend the patrons of their sites or viewers of their shows? If the story revolves around him sending pictures of his schlong and trying to get this lady up to his room then why is none of that mentioned in the stories themselves?
When you look at the stories about the hard hits in the NFL it’s a whole different ball of wax. All week on ESPN, the NFL Network and different outlets the focus has been on these vicious hits. Of course no story about anything violent is complete without images of said violence. Over and over again, while the talking heads babble about making this mandatory or outlawing that, they have shown the same shots over and over again. If you go to the sports sites to read about what happened or see if there’s any word on the injured players conditions, you are treated to a video with “experts” rambling over the “highlights” of the cracks. I’ve seen Dunta Robinson hurl himself head first with as much speed and force as he could into DeSean Jackson skull and James Harrison separate Mohamed Massaquoi from conciseness so many times now I’m beginning to wonder if I’m a sadist.
It’s no secret that America’s looked at as being prudish when it comes to sex and the way we view it. People in this country seem to be more offended by the sight or subject of body parts than they are of violence. We’re conditioned to believe violence is a part of the game and there’s nothing offensive about repeatedly showing what happened to these young men last Sunday. As a society we are far more accepting of violent content than we are with sexual content. You can promote R rated horror movies and violent video games on programs rated TVPG as long as nudity and sexual situations aren’t depicted. What if one of the players was paralyzed or if one died? Would they censor the footage or choose not to show it? If history is any indication as far as paralyzed players are concerned, the answer is no.
I have a feeling that the details of the Favre situation as well as Tiger’s Woods indiscretions coming to light earlier this year being suppressed on sports sites and channels has more to do with protecting the athletes and their images than it does protecting our easily offended eyes and ears. Let’s face it companies like Nike and Wrangler spend a boat load of money advertising on sports sites and programs and tarnishing the reps of these “wholesome” athletes is bad for business. The last thing any of these conglomerates who control what is published want to do is harm their own best interests. I think pissing off Nike or any of these big shot advertisers carries more weight than the letter writing senior citizen or parent who is offended by the word “penis” or the shady details of what Brett Favre did.