Israel’s Second Authority for Television and Radio has banned the Hoodies commercial below as containing “too many sexual insinuations.” The commercial shows a supermodel with Red Orbach, a famous puppet character, in bed with not so veiled references to puppet-human relations. It raises again the ongoing controversy over censorship in commercials to protect younger or more sensitive viewers.
The Second Authority for Television and Radio was established after the adoption of new regulations in 1990.
The commercial shows the puppet in bed after sex with the model and he fantasies about having three identical copies of the model. He later wakes up without his Hoodies brand underwear in a suggestive scene.
The commercial raises a tough issue for free speech advocates. I admit that I am increasing uncomfortable by some commercials now on American television like the increasing number of commercials for sex toys. I was shocked to first see these commercials which start to air when many minors are still up, particularly on non-school nights. There are also feminine product commercials that can be pretty graphic. My free speech tendencies inevitably push me to opposing government limits. However, is there still a reasonable basis for the government barring such commercials — or limiting them to late hours? Frankly, I admit that I tend to shock easier than many on this site. I am hopelessly Midwestern in what I expect in public conduct and speech from people to the point that I sometimes feel like a prude on this site when discussing controversies. Certainly, Europe has far racier commercials and programming than the U.S. I often hear from European friends that Americans tend to be a bit prudish on discussions or portrayal of sexual subjects.
Of course, many would argue that families should not be able to control content for the rest of society. In today’s age where everyone seems to be on a hair-trigger in objecting to insults or stereotypes, censorship can easily force all programming to the lowest and blandest common denominator. One answer is to take the absolute approach against any limits and leave it to the market. Families would soon learn which cable networks protected their children while others just cash in on any commercial supplier. Then there is the question of a challenge from a supplier if turned down by a network based on the content of their commercials.
My first reaction to this commercial ban was that it was another absurd case of censors limiting speech in the case of a joke. However, given the involvement of a puppet, this commercial would have a particularly impact on child viewers. I have struggled where to draw a line or whether we need to forget any line at all. If you do not support a ban, would limitation to late of night viewers be warranted in your view? Is there still a basis for banning such types of products from television commercials like sex toys or porn sites?
Kudos: Ben Levin