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Bones on Fox

Rating: TV-14 DL


By Caroline Schulenburg


The Fox network airs more than its fair share of public service announcements for TheTVBoss.org, a website which promises to “put parents in control” of their TV set. At Fox, they believe that the use of parental controls will magically guarantee that only age-appropriate programming free of graphic violence and sexual content will find its way into living rooms across America.


However, if parents actually count on the Fox network for any cooperation in protecting children from explicit content, on November 27th they were sorely disappointed.


That night’s episode of the forensic drama Bones was rated TV14 DL. No V descriptor indicating violent content was present in the show’s rating, despite the fact that the episode contained several gruesome depictions of a department store Santa Claus brutally murdered and left to rot in a sewer.


Before the opening credits have even rolled, we find agent Booth, Dr. Saroyan and Bones standing over the sewer and pondering the state of the dead Santa.


Bones: “The rats got to him.”
Saroyan: “The huge bacterial count and unseasonably warm weather explains why the rats found him so digestible.”


Lying in the sewer, Santa’s corpse is covered with trash and maggots. His face appears to have been gnawed off by the aforementioned rats. But it’s not violent, you see. Fox’s rating says so. This sight – coming in the program’s opening minutes, at the very beginning of the Family Hour --  was certain to put any channel-flipping children who stumbled across it in a festive mood.


In the next scene, Bones and her colleagues examine the corpse further. On a table, the decaying Santa is laid out in his entire gory splendor. “There is copious insect activity from the sewer!” exclaims a delighted Hodgins as he makes his way around the corpse with tweezer, looking for bugs that might help him figure out where Santa was killed. The rest of the scene entails Bones and her colleagues irreverently discussing the origins of the Santa myth.


Maybe the creators of Bones think that because the murder victim was jolly old St. Nick the show’s stomach-churning imagery is somehow less noticeable. Maybe they think that because the murderer was also another part-time Santa Claus the entire crime is somehow less brutal.


But whatever the convoluted logic behind the decision that this program was not violent may be, it simply furthers the argument that the lack of a standardized and consistent ratings system renders parental controls totally useless.


If you agree that this program was inadequately rated, please write to the TV ratings advisory board at tvomb@usa.net and let them know that the TV ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate content.    


For more information about the TV ratings, please visit http://www.tvguidelines.org/contact.asp


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