Sunday, April 02, 2006

HBO's new "history" show is not one you'll want to share with your kids. It is filled with gratuitous obscenities. This is a shame, because the show does not need profanity to make history entertaining. How bad is it? In the first five minutes of his "monologue" comedian Robert Wuhl proclaims that "starfucking" (i.e. popular adulation) is the predominant motivation the American people have when electing presidents. He said Washington became the first president because he was the only "star" at the time. He goes on to explain how the American people were "starfucking" when they elected Andrew Jackson and U.S. Grant. He also used "shit" "fuck" "gay" "queer" and "asshole" frequently. The HBO cameras often showed reaction shots of the 18-year-old college freshmen in the classroom (it was filmed in a New York-area university, possibly NYU). I could see some of the young women wince when he spat out the profanities. I found it very disconcerting to see these smart, well-scrubbed kids be subjected to bathroom language. I'm not a member of the Christian Coalition, we're secular humanists. I am opposed to censorship but in favor of good taste. I think this show will fail because it has misjudged the audience. The adults who like Deadwood will not be comfortable sitting through a 30-minute classroom lecture that lacks narrative structure. Parents, hoping to tape a "fun" history show they can share with their children, will be appalled.


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