Sunday, May 30, 2010
NASCAR's Conflicting Media Morality Issues
This week, emails arrived on two very different topics. First, the folks at Showtime were promoting the fact that Richard Petty was going to be the featured guest on Inside NASCAR. They also wanted to make sure and remind us that the scanner audio used on the show was uncensored.
Secondly, the Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the line-up of dignitaries for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. The invocation before the race will be delivered by none other than Dr. James Dobson, pictured above. Dobson is the founder of the non-profit Focus on the Family organization. He was called "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by Time magazine.
Shortly after Showtime posted a video "teaser" of Petty's exclusive Inside NASCAR interview online, the fan anger started again. It centers around the fact that NASCAR fans must subscribe to Showtime just to see this one TV series. There are some rather compelling reasons to discuss that topic.
Dobson fits into the conservative slice of the NASCAR pie, but pushes the envelope with his hardline views on issues like child discipline, religious tolerance and homosexuality. Dobson attracts religious controversy like a magnet.
Inside NASCAR was the first time a TV series was produced by the NASCAR Media Group for a premium network. "Partnering with a brand such as Showtime for a high-end weekly NASCAR magazine news show in primetime is big news for our fans going into a brand new season," said NMG executive Jay Abraham back in January.
Among the other Showtime series is The Secret Diary of a Call Girl that follows the adventures of a high-priced London escort. A reality show called The Real L Word is new this season. It documents the lives of successful lesbians who live in the Los Angeles area. Series like Dexter, the Tudors and Californication are quite familiar to Showtime viewers for a lot more than just catchy titles.
Asking fans to sign-up for Showtime just to see Inside NASCAR avoids the entire issue of adult-oriented programs, including those based on homosexual themes, being on the very same channel. You can't order Inside NASCAR without Family Business being delivered as well.
Dobson also co-founded the Family Research Council back in the 1980's with a man named George Rekers. Many considered Rekers, Dobson and a Colorado pastor named Ted Haggard to be the leading anti-gay activists in the country for years. Then, things changed. Click here to read an article about Rekers and a recent vacation.
It was back in 2006 when the married Haggard admitted to a multi-year homosexual relationship with a male prostitute. He then resigned as the national leader of the evangelical movement. Rekers also resigned but denies he is gay, despite the fact that his vacation companion was hired through a website featuring gay escorts. Haggard now says he is "cured" of his homosexuality and is growing a new Christian ministry in Colorado with his wife.
Showtime's email reminder to the media after last weekend's race was that moments like Kyle Busch calling Denny Hamlin a motherf***er over the team radio could be heard on the Wednesday Inside NASCAR show.
Chris Myers, Brad Daugherty, Randy Pemberton and Michael Waltrip may be the faces on camera, but uncensored scanner traffic is now an important part of the program. Profanity on cable TV to promote stock car racing. That's a new concept.
Smack dab in the middle of this muddled morality mess sits NASCAR.
Dobson in Charlotte surrounded by military heroes on Memorial Day weekend while leading NASCAR fans in prayer on national TV is a de facto stamp of approval by the sport for his teachings and beliefs.
Kyle Busch's profanity-laced tirade and other adult language from teams and drivers is now routinely heard in a TV series being produced by NASCAR at the Hall of Fame studios in Charlotte, NC.
Inside NASCAR is on a TV network that also currently features Zack and Miri Make a Porno, The 2010 Adult Video News Awards and Busty Cops Go Hawaiian.
The late Rev. Hal Marchman used to end the Daytona 500 invocation with the words "Shalom and Amen." Although Marchman was a Baptist, he often said that he tried to accommodate all faiths. "I don't ever pray a Baptist prayer or a Catholic prayer -- we're all God's children," Marchman said.
It should be interesting to hear Dobson's invocation on Sunday and then watch Inside NASCAR on Wednesday. Unless Dobson chooses to spice things up quite a bit, he does not stand a chance of making Showtime's NASCAR highlights.
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