Even Popular Kids Show iCarly Thinks the FCC is a Joke

Even kids' TV shows know the Federal Communciations Commission - charged with regulating various aspects of communications infrastructure, licensing broadcast TV and radio stations, and policing content on the nation's over-the-air TV and radio stations - is a joke.

In practice, the FCC routinely thwarts the innovation and competition it self-consciously claims to promote. And when it comes to protecting the sensitive ears and eyes of Americans young and old, it really is best understood as an arm of the Parents Television Council, an "anti-indecency" group that in 2003 and 2004, accounted for fully 99 percent of viewer complaints not related to Janet Jackson's notorious nip-slip that drove a country mad.

The FCC these days is best known for trying to take control of the Internet either through agency head Julius Genachowski's "light touch" shenanigans and relitigating ancient "fleeting expletives" murmured by such titans of American culture as Nicole Richie during awards shows.

But here comes iCarly to the rescue! For those without children under the ages of about 15, iCarly is a funny and long-running Nickelodeon show about a group of zany Seattle-based kids who put on a webcast. Premiering in 2007, the show will wrap up its run in November 2012.

In a recent one-hour special, the cast goes to New York to appear on super-fan Jimmy Fallon's late-night show when one of the characters suffers a major wardrobe malfunction that would make Justin Timberlake blush.

As a result of what's dubbed the "trouser wowzer," the kids end up getting fined $500,000 by the "NCC," the show's version of the FCC. Hilarity ensues and all is made right in the end as the kids gather the money to pay the fine.

Somewhere in the Historical Baseball Abstract, the single-greatest volume of baseball-ania ever written, Bill James discusses the corrosive effects of having rules in place that everyone disregards as plainly uneforceable and whose enforcement is thus always arbitrary (if memory serves, he was talking about catchers blocking the plate). The point is that such anomalies undermine confidence in the entire system, including in rules and adjudication is fully legitimate.

When it comes to the FCC and its sad-sack patroling of broadcast TV and radio for the constitutionally indefensible category of "indecent" speech, we are fast approaching that point. The FCC does virtually nothing useful anymore other than seek to expand its power over the internet and cable and satellite communications (the means by which virtually all Americans receive their media). The more it continues to badger broadcasters with stupid fines over incidents of manipulated outrage just hastens its demise.

iCarly's "iShock America" episode is hardly the final straw that breaks the FCC's back, but if I were Genachowski and company, I'd be worried as hell. When a kids show is making fun of one of your major functions, you're in deep, deep trouble.

There's a generation out there being raised on kid lit like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games and Lois Lowry and Margaret Peterson Haddix novels, all of which are fiercely deconstructive toward illegitimate and plain dumb authority.

On top of that, you've got several older generations that are not appalled by the prospect of very funny and foul-mouthed auteur Seth McFarlane hosting the Oscars - they're questioning why he would bother headlining something that is the equivalent of a TV movie featuring silent-era movie stars.

The only folks who seem upset at the prospect are the Parents Television Council, whose members, like Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, would get out of their wheelchairs to turn the channel if only they could (but alas, they can't).

Reason on the FCC.

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  • Randian||

    Even Popular Kids Show iCarly Thinks the FCC is a Joke

    A show that had Jimmy Fallon on should learn not to throw stones.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    ... licensing broadcast TV and radio stations, and policing content on the nation's over-the-air TV and radio stations ...

    I recognize these words, but I don't understand what they mean. After all, TV and radio come from the internet and are free (although Netflix can cost $7 a month). What does over-the-air mean? Is that when I watch TV on my iPhone?

    The FCC is about as relevant as something that lost it's relevancy 20 years ago.

  • Timrek||

    My ten year daughter (and five year old son) likes iCarly. It really is one of the few truly intelligent and funny kids shows on the air today. It's far more edgy and anti-authoritarian than the drivel that Disney channel tends to produce. On top of that the cast can actually act and don't just read a series of one liners. It's nice to see them skewer one of the oldest and least effective of the numerous nanny-state agencies we have today.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    But they don't. At least it doesn't seem that way from the article. They pony up and pay the fine.

    Now if it had them burn down the headquarters and take the FCC boards' families hostage, and torture them to death until their demands were met, THEN it would be skewering the FCC.

    Or if the cast did the entire next episode completely nude in protest (I assume they're all under-aged), that would be edgy.

  • Calidissident||

    Never watched the show, but Miranda Cosgrove goes to my college, so I know they're all not underage. But I'll pass along the idea next time I see her ...

  • ||

    I'd say mocking the FCC for trivial things outside of the newstations' control counts as "skewering" them. Your ideas.... are just weird.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    It's no Phineas and Ferb, but it's not bad.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    It's far more edgy and anti-authoritarian than the drivel that Disney channel tends to produce.

    ?!?

    Just so we're clear, this is the show that had a vomit-inducing special, guest staring Michelle Obama, where the cast (metaphorically) performed cunnilingus on her for 1 hour.

  • Timrek||

    Sorry, I plum forgot about that horrid episode. But if I got angry at every show that cow towed to the Obamasiah I couldn't even watch Mythbusters.

  • ||

    That's why the word more is Nick's saving grace here.

  • Mainer2||

    Julius Genachowski's face: punchable ? or most punchable ?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Oh it's quite punchable, but he's not even top 10.

  • Franklin Harris||

    Remember that time an FCC search and destroy vessel dropped depth charges on Sealab and killed everyone? That was horrible. Except for those jerks in Pod Six. They had it coming.

  • ||

    You watch your goddamn mouth!

  • ||

    Those mailbox heads!

  • SugarFree||

    iCarly was the show that MNG was obsessed with getting us to admit that we watched. This post is straight-up MNG-bait.

  • Bee Tagger||

    In other words, John wrote this post.

  • ||

    So John is Nick? Now his trolling makes sense. What a publicity ploy.

  • DJF||

    Yeah, but any organization which stops Janet Jackson from exposing her tit in public can't be all bad.

  • DJF||

    If only they could do something to stop Madonna.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Vote Romney.

  • Hugh Akston||

    On top of that, you've got several older generations that are not appalled by the prospect of very funny and foul-mouthed auteur Seth McFarlane hosting the Oscars - they're questioning why he would bother headlining something that is the equivalent of a TV movie featuring silent-era movie stars.

    Simple. Seth McFarlane isn't funny and desperately wants the approval of the shallow Hollywood players he makes fun of. He's hoping that by hosting the most turgid, onanistic parade of self gratification that the Industry has to offer, he will be seen as a legitimate creative force, and not just a derivative bastard offspring of the Simpsons and South Park.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Ouch. Quite an insightful takedown of McFarlane. Is it just me, or is every joke on Family Guy ripped off from The Simpsons, or some other funny movie, show, or comedy act?

  • ||

    It's not just you.

  • Loki||

    "You think that's bad? Remember the time Muhammed gave me a salmon helmet while wearing a toga?"

    What do you expect from a show written by Manatees?

  • Killazontherun||

    It is definitely not just you.

    http://cdn.wwtdd.com/wp-conten....._earth.jpg

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Jesus. McFarlane totally ripped the whole Stewie character right off this comic. Hope they "settled out of court".

    I have never seen a full episode of Family Guy. Some of my friends love it, and insist I will as well. But everytime I get tricked into watching it, I just start to see gags that came from other comedy shows, etc. and turn it off.

  • ||

    It's just plain not funny.

  • Proprietist||

    South Park did a whole episode (two actually) dedicated to this very point.

  • Jordan||

    Tangentially related to the Disney Channel and indecency, but it's nice to see Ashley Tisdale on Sons of Anarchy. Now if only Brenda Song would branch out...

  • ||

    "all is made right in the end as the kids gather the money to pay the fine."
    -----------------------

    "Right"? I hope that was sarcastic, because it sounds like there's still a lot of "wrong" there.

  • johnl||

    I am getting an ad to iCarly. Funny. So what was the wardrobe malfunction? Gibby's shirt fall off?

  • ||

    "trouser wowzer" doesn't give it away?

  • johnl||

    Gibby.

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