Saturday, September 23, 2006

NBC cuts God out of VeggieTales

I had intended to write a lengthy football preview for today's important games, but as I was engaging in my usual morning custom of parousing the newspapers, I came across a story out of this morning's Tennessean that made me very angry.

If you ever happen to be watching Saturday morning cartoons on NBC either because you have children or you are just flipping through the channels, you might have noticed Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, the signature characters from the VeggieTales series, the wildly popular video series that has sold millions of copies and is popular with kids of all ethnic and religious backgrounds all over America. It has now made its way to Saturday morning TV.

Since VeggieTales made its debut on Saturdays, I have to confess that I haven't seen much of the show. However, I have seen several of the videos that were parsed to create the Saturday morning program. They are wholesome, clean, and promote a message of love and respect, but most of all, VeggieTales is a lot of fun.

Apparently, part of the deal in order to bring VeggieTales to Saturday mornings involved censorship of the show's religious content-VeggieTales is a Christian program. The worst part of this censorship is that NBC is not admitting the obvious-that they are censoring the show for references to God-they are merely saying that they are editing for time allowed. Let's look at the "time edits" NBC requested from Big Idea Productions:

As discussed, there are a few edit notes for Episode #2 MINESSOTA CUKE

We list the time-code with specific dialogue lines to be deleted:*

11:50-11:52 – "Calm down. The Bible says we should love our enemies." (on phone)

16:53-17:06 And the best part is God gives us strength too. He gives us an even greater power than Samson's, the power to love our enemy and even be kind to them." (on phone)

18:36 – "Because God gives us the power to love everybody, even our enemy." (on phone)

All of the lines are from MARTIN's voice-over during phone conversations.

Greatly appreciate your attention to Program Standards notes & concerns. As soon as the edits have been addressed, we will need to re-screen for broadcast approval.

Meanwhile, NBC still plans to show Madonna blaspheme the name and person of Christ by mocking the crucifixion on-air. We can't say anything bad about certain other religions over the airwaves, but it is perfectly alright to mock Christianity while censoring all positive references to it (though they now officially say they are "reconsidering" doing so.)

This kind of double-standard is precisely why Christians feel that the mainstream media is not friendly to them and is in fact a force in opposition, and this social double standard is one of the reasons why the divide in this country is so deep and pronounced.

VeggieTales doesn't mention God every other word, but its Christian underpinnings are obvious. If NBC didn't want a Christian show, they shouldn't have jumped on the VeggieTales bandwagon.


At Saturday, September 23, 2006 2:47:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

Gott'a agree with you and I have to disagree at the same time. I think it's sad that some one like Madonna gets the air play she does - but that's not TV's fault. She gets it because so many people want to see her. The media is simply delivering what will make money. The media's business is to make money and they will do, say, braodcast whjatever it is that enables them to that. If people stopped watching Madonna they'd drop her like a load trash. And frankly speaking, between you and I they couldn't do it fast enough.
As for Veggie Tales I've loved Veggie Tales ever since they first started. They're funny and smart - I noticed early on that if you listen and watch closely there is humor in there that only adults will get; small comments, things in background and so on. I can understand NBC's actions, understanding doesn't necessarily mean approval - keep that in mind, as being the result of fear - they want to make money not open up an embarrassing religion versus secular entertainment controversy. However, by their stupiod handling of this they probably have done just that anyway. If I was them I would have edited the show but only by removing overt reference to the Bible and/or scripture. For example insterad of "the Bilbe says we should love our enemies and be nice to them ..." I would have had it changed to "we should love our enemies and be nice to them ..." In other words let the message be said but do it so that it does not give offense, or at the least minimize giving offense. You can even quote the Bible just don't cite the scripture verse it comes from.
This might seem alittle wishy-washy but it works. Some time ago I memorized Paul's letter to the Phillippians. I noticed that in conversation with my liberal non-church going friends quoting Paul without saying it was "Bible" would facilitate the discussion whereas quoting Phillipians chapter X verse Y would result in rejection out of hand no matter what my point was or my level of agreement with those I was talking with.
Oh, and let me quickly add before I go that what Modonna's doing is actually quite Biblical - Check out the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, particulary verse 32. She's doing exactly what the Bible says folks like her will do and at some point she'll stand before God and give an account for it.


At Sunday, September 24, 2006 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

As you probably know, VeggieTales doesn't often cite chapter and verse, but it does have a lot of "the Bible says" which is great for kids.

I agree that you could keep the message without using the words "the Bible says," but it seems to me that this is not NBC's intent-their intent is to cyphen the message. Besides, "the Bible says" is part of the whole point of VeggieTales and that is what makes the show so different from other cartoon fare.

Your point about relating the Bible to your liberal non-churchgoing friends is quite interesting. It is sad that the Scriptures are something that so many on the Left run from. You might say that this is because they fear sounding like someone like me-a conservative, but I think there is a bit more to it than that. I think many liberals have embraced the Marxist view that religion is merely "the opiate of the masses" and has no place in the public square, whether they intend to be Marxist or not.

At Sunday, September 24, 2006 3:11:00 PM, Blogger Steve Mule said...

Liberals are not Marxists. Period. Marxists form a very isolated fringe that most liberals are more than happy to leave as an isolated fringe. Marxists talk in a language that is as big a turn off (if not bigger) than the worst "Bible thumper" could ever think of being.
We're talking the effects of "stereotypes" here. As soon as someone starts quoting Scripture, regardless of its applicability or its appropritness, the stereotype of the "Bible thumper, hell-fire preacher" pops up and ... the message gets lost in all that baggage.
Conservatives DO NOT own the Bible, they do not have exclusive right to its use or interpration. However, many (not all) conservative beleive they do and, unfortunately, many liberals are more than willing to agree with that. Consequently, the liberal's response is that of knee-jerk rejection.



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