In the US, the conservative backlash fails to see off 'Desperate Housewives'

Click to follow
The Independent US

When the Golden Globes, the first of this year's major awards shows, airs next Sunday, one of the safest bets is that Desperate Housewives will be among the winners.

When the Golden Globes, the first of this year's major awards shows, airs next Sunday, one of the safest bets is that Desperate Housewives will be among the winners.

The black comedy and three of its all-girl ensemble cast have been nominated for awards, despite a deluge of complaints from the puritanical and intense pressure on the show's advertisers from "family values" groups.

When Nicollette Sheridan, who plays Edie, Desperate Housewives' resident hussy, dropped her towel as part of a televised promotional spot, 50,000 viewers complained. Several big advertisers have since pulled out of the show, including Tyson Foods, which said the series was "not consistent with our core values".

The protests sparked by the show's dark humour and sexual undertones reflect what priggish Americans are increasingly viewing as the corrosive effect of Hollywood and popular culture on moral standards. Seventy per cent of Americans who responded to a recent New York Times/CBS poll said they were very or somewhat concerned that television, films and popular music were lowering moral standards in America.

Television, particularly, is under fire from right-wing politicians. The outrage that surrounded the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during the half-time show at last year's Super Bowl has led to what network executives are calling an atmosphere of "cultural McCarthysim". Some politicians want fines raised to £250,000 for indecency.

"I've been in this business for a long time and I know these things run in cycles, but things seem to be of serious consequence right now," says one Fox television executive.

Since the Parents' Television Council's protest against Jackson's breast fiasco, stations have placated protesters, even as they privately decry the hypocrisy of it all. Even films are feeling the sting. More stations rejected advertisements for Kinsey, the film about the sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, which the religious right says "celebrates the life of a pervert and sex maniac".

Liam Neeson, who is nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Kinsey, says: "We're back in conservative times again. America is schizophrenic regarding its attitude to sex and sexuality."

Comments