Must-Seethe TV: FCC Complaints
There are a lot of stupid FCC complaints, but some of the stupidest are complaints about superhero and comic book TV shows. Things like a citizens crime-stopper group taking on the Flash for calling somebody a dick are too far-fetched to appear in a show with an evil mind-controlling gorilla, but that didn’t stop an Orlando based group from trying to do just that.
The litigator-turned-commentator Nancy Grace’s decade-plus reign on cable news ended a year ago this summer. Beryl Lipton filed for the last batch of FCC complaints regarding her show on HLN. Amid more standard gripes about profanity and “butt flesh,” are the threads of an emerging conspiracy of “activist networks” to make the world go mad, one segment on #BabyForSale at a time.
A mixed bag of FCC complaints regarding the 2016 World Series take aim at cultural appropriation, improper junk bumping, and the indignity of Joe Buck’s continued existence.
While some people found Dave Chappelle’s SNL opener to be a somberly soothing balm on this festering wound of an election, a little over a dozen FCC complaints released via FOIA show others were upset about Chappelle dropping a Quentin Tarantino’s movie worth of n-bombs in his opening monologue, and “implying” that the United States might be the tiniest bit racist.
In a surprising turn, a request for complaints submitted to the FCC regarding the controversial conservative site Breitbart News instead yielded a series of attacks on other media outlets, citing Breitbart articles as evidence - as well as a few misogynistic Bible verses and one outright call to end the FCC.
Last year, Emily Hopkins filed a FOIA with the FCC for all complaints received regarding Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer. Despite the comedian’s best efforts, the FCC could only find three.
Ah, what a difference a year makes. Last September, following a particularly heated Republican primary debate, Fox News commentator Rich Lowry described then-nominee Donald Trump as having been, shall we say, gelded by another candidate. Trump was not happy, and called on the FCC to fine Lowry. As complaints received by the agency show, Trump supporters heeded that call.
Listeners from all across the country have come to the FCC with the same desperate entreaty: please, do something, anything, to put an end to Rush Limbaugh’s “bullsh*t.”
Since 1979, C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, has been a constant comrade on the tour through the TV channels, generally been taken for granted as a public service - which it is. As a majority of FCC complaints regarding the network show, it’s a service people would like to see extended and free of abuse … not unlike our democracy itself.
The FCC has released 45 complaints it received regarding Super Bowl 50, mostly concerning the half-time show. And if you’ve seen the Saturday Night Live sketch “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black,” you already have a pretty good idea of where this is going.
In a very special edition of Must Seethe TV, we take a look at a massive collection of FCC complaints regarding BRAVO’s Real Housewives franchise released to Tom Nash. As Tom himself put it: “these docs are my greatest contribution to the public’s understanding of government to date.”
Gotham, the fictional city where crimes rules, the police are corrupt, and the “homosexual agenda” is forced upon everyone. Of the 12 complaints submitted to the FCC about FOX’s Batman origin story Gotham, four were about the shows depiction of same-sex couples, while the rest were about violence, or as one complaint put it, “A continuous barrage of unspeakable torture exceeding humanities worst potential.”
As millions of Americans head to the polls this Super Tuesday to do their civic duty, it’s time to take a moment to reflect on almost a year’s worth of election coverage … and how very, very, very mad people got about it.
To the delight of Gary-Busey-doing-the-Cha-Cha fans everywhere, Dancing With The Stars will return for its 22nd season next month. And as FCC complaints released to Courtney Spencer reveal, there are at least a few viewers hoping the show’s cleaned up its act by then.
For 17 seasons, Dick Wolf and co. have captivated the nation with their sexual violence specialized Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, featuring stories of New York City’s elite squad investigate these “especially heinous” crimes. Considering the subject matter, it should come as no surprise that FCC complaints show viewers had a problem with SVU’s … mild swears and racy commercials?
Last Sunday, PBS aired the premier of Downton Abbey’s sixth and final season, beginning the end for the popular period drama. While a bittersweet moment for anglophiles everywhere, FCC complaints released to Robert Delaware show that at least a couple people were not down with the Abbey.
While A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” has repeatedly drawn controversy over the Robertson family patriarch’s incendiary comments on, well, everything, FCC “compliments” released under FOIA reveal a dedicated viewer base which holds it as television’s moral compass to which all other shows are judged.
MuckRock’s Michael Morisy recently received the FCC complaints related to the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Miley Cyrus. And while there was nowhere near the outpouring of outrage that resulted from her now infamous 2013 VMAs performance, Miley can rest easy knowing that there’s still plenty of people out there who think she’s destroying America.
It took nearly a decade, but Ted Mosby, narrator of the long-running CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, finally got to the point in the story where he, well, met the mother. While last year’s series finale drew controversy for what some considered a last minute bait-and-switch, FCC complaints released to James C. Dziobek III were less concerned about continuity and more about Barney’s junk.
Sons of Anarchy will have been off the air for a full year in December, leaving fans of motorcycle gang family/crime dramas featuring heavy Shakespearean undertones with little to fill the void. Every cloud has a silver ling, however, as FCC complaints released to Dustin Slaughter show the show’s ending saved at least one concerned parent a trip to Washington to get it yanked from the airwaves.
For over a decade, MythBusters has been using the scientific method to dismantle popular misconceptions, one controlled explosion at a time. But as FCC complaints released to Chris Meller show, you can’t bust a couple hundred myths without making a few enemies.
CBS’ The Big Bang Theory recently kicked off of its ninth season to an audience of over 18 million viewers. Despite its seemingly unwavering popularity, the sitcom’s pastiche of nerd culture has earned its fair share of critics - the most ardent of which, FCC complaints show, are calling upon the government to yank the show from the airwaves.
Season 2 of Fox’s hip-hop soap opera Empire premiers this week. While the show’s record-shattering success would seems to indicate that it’s doing something right, FCC complaints show that at least a few viewers felt that the risqué sexual content shown by advertisements was so very, very wrong.
Last Sunday, NBC’s acclaimed psychological thriller Hannibal wrapped up its third and final season. But while the show’s stylistic blend of culinary carnage quickly earned it cult status, FCC complaints obtained by Robert Delaware reveal that those with milder appetites were left with a bad taste in their mouth.
The award winning HBO series Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels, has a reputation for eliciting outrage from nearly everyone who encounters it. But, while a large subset of the television-viewing population has a problem with GoT, there are few among us who would brazenly seek retribution by way of the FCC.
MuckRock’s Tom Nash recently obtained FCC complaints regarding NBC’s office, spanning the show’s last two seasons. While the nature of these complaints is nothing new - almost entirely concerning being reminded of the existence of genitals - there is a refreshing eloquence to them that sets them apart for your run-of-the-mill cries for censorship.
In response to a request by user Will Green, the FCC released the last three years of complaints regarding the “Adult Swim” cable network. Hot topics for controversy included blasphemy and brown paper bags.
NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation made a habit out of lampooning censorship during its recently concluded seven-season run. But the complaints the FCC received show that real censorship proponents are much weirder than comedy writers imagine.
Plenty of criticism has been lobbed at Ira Glass and his radio show “This American Life,” whose storytelling aesthetic has won scorn as well as a dedicated legions of fans. But in the past five years, only one person decided to gripe about it to the Federal Government.
The NFL this season provided plenty of fodder for big conversations about lots of things that weren’t football. But just because the league’s legendary halftime show wasn’t the most scandalous thing in professional football this year doesn’t mean that it didn’t still scandalize.
On the heels of Obama’s statement in support of net neutrality, in which he proposed that broadband would be reclassified as a common carrier under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, MuckRock gives you some of the best complaints to the FCC in the name of a free and open internet.
FCC released complaints lodged against college radio stations around Boston, with Harvard University’s station WHRB eliciting the most criticism.
The FCC received more than 150 complaints about the VMAs, the lion’s share regarding Miley Cyrus and her ‘daemon’ dance number. Which means ‘twerking’ is now a part of the national historical record.
Despite raised eyebrows from viewers disgruntled by Seth MacFarlane’s risqué February Oscars show, only four filed written complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.
The Colbert Report may have begun as a showcase for comedian Stephen Colbert and a spiteful spoof of Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, but complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission against the parody show suggest that the program has also become the nation’s top purveyor of castration anxiety and teabagging gags.
While M.I.A. may yet face a steep fine for extending her middle-finger during last month’s Super Bowl half-time show, written complaints fielded by the Federal Communications Commission about the performance numbered fewer than 200.