May 6, 2008
On April 25th, I wrote here about Quin Hilyer's terrific column describing some vile television programming he encountered. Well, I don't think even Quin could have dreamed up one TV network's recent ad campaign. This vile promotional campaign was created and distributed for The Gossip Girl, a national broadcast from the CW network.
Gossip Girl is a relatively new sleazy teen and young adult-centric show that glorifies sex, drugs, and drinking in a group of Manhattan college prep students. After a spring hiatus, the show returned with new episodes on April 21st preceded by a blasphemous and soft porn ad campaign. As one website put it: "The desperate ad campaign clearly shows that the producers want Gossip Girl's viewer to know that there will be a whole lot of sex scenes in the coming episodes."
The attack on decency was multi-pronged.
First, a once-respected magazine, New York, sold its soul to carry the most vacuous review of anything ever written or broadcast. The piece came complete with a cover featuring the program's stars lying in bed together pretty well undressed in orgiastic poses. In the center of this cover photo, one finds "Best Show Ever*" imposed, and, as is befitting of such art, the cover story was duly titled, "The Genius of Gossip Girl."
Second, the new season is supported by raunchy still photo and video ads. Both promotions are focused on the phrase "OMFG" - which is probably not a phrase you are familiar with. "OMG" is an abbreviation for "Oh, My G-", the ubiquitous disrespectful exclamation of the popular culture. Well, "OMFG" is a spin-off of this phrase whose etymology is not certain but seems to come from the teen internet subculture. Yes, the "F" stands for what you think it does.
When I say that the still life ads are sleazy, I mean they are SLEAZY. Now that you are familiar with the lingo, take a look at those posters that are appearing on standard street-size and sidewalk billboards:
The OMFG theme isn't exactly hidden, and neither is the sexually explicit content. There is also at least one offensive OMFG video ad for Gossip Girl that is available on the CW website, YouTube, and on television. Of course, a CW honcho denied in an interview with CNN's Brooke Anderson that OMFG means what it clearly means. Anderson was incredulous, so she conducted "man on the street" interviews to prove her point. Only two women over 60 were not able to define OMFG. See the CNN interview featuring Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council. Kudos to Anderson.
Let's be clear: this is an ad campaign and television program promoted by a major American broadcast network and targeted at teenagers and young adults. Parents who are concerned about this might wish to contact one or two of the Gossip Girl sponsors and complain about the blasphemy, the decadence, and the cruel indifference to the moral lives of the young revealed by the network and its advertisers.
At times like this I think: wouldn't it be nice to have the power to tell my cable provider that I don't ever want the CW network to be seen in my house again? It sure would. It's definitely time for cable choice and time to find out how the presidential candidates feel about consumer empowerment over the media content that comes into our homes.