Banned In Israel: Censors Block The Red Orbach in Hoodie Commercial

1297543871302_ORIGINALIsrael’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

17 thoughts on “Banned In Israel: Censors Block The Red Orbach in Hoodie Commercial”

  1. It’s absurd to try to protect kids from every intimation of sex that can be found in the public sphere today—like this commercial. Of course, the truth is, it isn’t about protecting kids from sex; it’s about protecting adults from having to have a RATIONAL, INFORMED CONVERSATION ABOUT SEX with their children. Admittedly, many parents don’t know crap about sex (except, apparently, how to have it), but it’s certainly their duty to LEARN about it if they intend to put their children into the world armed with the knowledge of what’s fun and what’s dangerous about sex, what’s societally (dare I say “logically”?) acceptable and what’s not (rape, assault, catcalls, slut-shaming). Bottom line: Parents should get a dose of courage and learn enough about sex (and not necessarily or even preferably from porn movies) so they can share that knowledge with their kids when they’re old enough to understand it—and how to deal with kids who aren’t old enough but are simply confused by the sexual stuff they see—like this commercial.

  2. I don’t want any kids reading this blog. If their parents let them troll the internet then the parents should be in jail. Kids know Pig Latin, so the effort to sprech words like itchBay does not fool kids.

  3. Ah, yes. Let’s not impede the free speech of corporations. They’re people, you know.

  4. Professor Turley, this is two questionable posts on Israel in a row, and I don’t mean questionable as to opinion, but rather simple misstatements of fact.

    The commercial was not now, or ever “banned”. Much as exists here in the US, it was simply ruled that it could not air DURING PRIMETIME.

    Funny that you link to a NY Daily News article and even GET THAT wrong. The Daily News reported it correctly.
    You could have, of course, gone to the English language editions of any Israeli paper.

    1. okay, either someone deleted a post of mine or it got eaten by the spam filter. I have a following post that corrects the post that is missing, so I am pretty sure it was on here at one time. WHOOOOOOOOO DID IT!!!!!!

  5. Hoodies should fire the advertising firm who came up this this idea. Not funny, no entertaining, too sexually suggestive, not suitable for kids…or me.

  6. Veronica: “I am a so-called ‘prude’ and I do not want to see anything sexually explicit ‘in my face’ when I am watching tv ”

    That’s what the channel selector and off and on switch are for.

  7. I agree, the Muppet like puppet is going to attract young viewers. A generation of children, including mine, had to learn about oral sex thanks to Bubba. I am not a prude, and I am a libertarian. But, any libertarian knows kids are a different ballgame. The role of government is to protect its citizens. The role of parents is to protect their kids.

  8. I am a so-called ‘prude’ and I do not want to see anything sexually explicit ‘in my face’ when I am watching tv – why not just make a ‘normal family level’ standard for all tv channels until say 10 pm (kids sometimes are up late !) and then make some channels ALWAYS free of this stuff – let’s have a vote on what we all want – special filters on each channel to ‘hide’ anything that is past our personal want-to-watch level ? – I would love it if any ad that will contain
    this stuff can be ‘switched’ to blackout mode if I want that, instead of me having to change channels or switch it off !! Life is complicated enough without having to also put up with ads trying to get our attention by being disgusting – ugh !!
    I get really fed up with watching a great movie and then feeling ‘oh really why is this necessary?’ if it gets over-the-top – that’s not to say I don’t enjoy hot and steamy on occasion if it is still tasteful – BUT – I am a firm believer in the concept that you BECOME what you let your mind be occupied with – so if you dabble in filth (after all no-one can see you right?) –
    do not be surprised if it starts to pervert your whole life !!
    so – Jonathan – you are quite correct to be wary of this subject.

  9. And the puritanical sex-negativity campaign continues… because if we ever talked about “sex toys” we may not find them so “shocking” when we see one on TV. Then again, TV is increasingly becoming the refuge for the easily offended, and we would certainly like to reduce instances of dildo-related angina whenever possible.

  10. Sex bad violence fine. I am always amazed the censors are sooo fixated on sex. They want on put it on after 9 ok but really.

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