By Tommy Wood
For years, my children have enjoyed relatively innocent and agreeable programming on cable networks such as Nickelodeon, Disney and their subsidiaries. I’ve often said the silly sitcoms of the 80’s merely moved to cable and were re-engineered for a new generation.
However, I was not surprised over the last decade to see a disquieting agenda slowly and methodically slipped into new shows and advertising. Hoping to never have to pull the plug on a channel that brings us a chipper sea sponge and his goofy friends, I have kept a wary eye on it. Sometimes an ad would air that was slightly age inappropriate, but nothing to strike over. Then, a new show comes out and is number one in the ratings. . . but, the characters wear out slang like “Oh My God,” when previous shows on that same network took care not to use that phrase. These little nuggets of desensitization have made me wonder, What’s next?
At 8:00 pm just the other evening, my 9-year-old daughter runs into the family room and exclaims, “Turn on the TV, it’s the first episode of ‘Glenn Martin, DDS’!” I looked at her with furrowed brow because I had seen the commercials and politely told her there was no way she was watching that. Then it hit me. . . it was 8:00 pm on a school night that this premiere was happening.
I flipped back to NICK when the kids were out of the room to see if my suspicions were warranted, and they were. Then, at 8:20 pm during the show, a “Talk To Your Kids About Sex” PSA from the government aired. I was thrilled to know that the government was trying to spark that conversation with my children who might not be ready for it.
When you are used to being able to let your kids watch “Spongebob” or “iCarly” at 8:00 pm and see mostly ads about Polly Pockets and Gushers, it was very disheartening (to say the least) to see the shift toward “Glenn Martin, DDS,” which is a crude, sex-joke heavy show, then followed up by an ad for “The Birds & Bees.” I mean, my 4-year-old is used to watching shows on NICK in that time slot. Speaking of my 4-year-old, she was watching “The Backyardigans,” which was about to transition into “Dora the Explorer” at 8:55 am the other day. . . and what did she see but an ad for “Jennifer’s Body,” the R rated, sexually-charged, bloody horror movie starring Megan Fox of “The Transformers” movies.
Yes, at 8:55 am in the morning on Nickelodeon, they showed two girls about to kiss each other while my preschooler watched!
My calls and emails to the FCC and Nickelodeon have been ignored. In fact, the receptionist at Nickelodeon didn’t give me much hope of anyone really caring about my concern. A little research turned up an interesting bit of information. In September 2000, Jim Gianopulos (Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment) testified in a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, that Fox would “further advance our goal of avoiding improper marketing of R-rated films.” He goes on to espouse, “We will not advertise any R-rated movies on any broadcast network program in which 35 percent or more of the audience is anticipated to be under 17.” 20th Century Fox is the distributor of Jennifer’s Body, and Jim is still Chairman.
“Glenn Martin, DDS” is an animated series marketed as a family show on Nickelodeon at 8:00 pm. When I saw the ads for this show, I assumed it would air on Adult Swim. Seriously, it’s no “South Park,” but it’s not a family show for primetime. This bold stroke by NICK to go from “iCarly” to this platform for sexual innuendo and crude humor, gave me great pause. What are they thinking? That we won’t notice or care about this shift?
I have gone through the first four episodes, and I won’t bore you with the basic derivative plot details. However, I do want to share with you just a taste of what series producer Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, thinks is responsible programming for our families. Let’s start with language. In the first four episodes, you’ll find these choice words. . . hell, bastard, whore, dammit, bitch, damn, and the phrase “Oh my God.”
Now, I’m not taking a pious angle on these words as if we never hear them. But this is 8:00 pm on Nickelodeon. Have I mentioned that? What’s more is that the 11-year-old daughter on “Glenn Martin, DDS” spouts out some of this language.
I knew based on the ads that “Glenn Martin, DDS” would cross the line, but I was surprised at how far and how often.
“Glenn Martin, DDS” on SEX:
– Glenn’s wife Jackie throws him on the bed. He asks if she’s initiating sex. She tells him to shut up and grab the headboard. He does, and after she strips him to his underwear, you have a basic S&M visual, as she stands dominantly beside the bed.
– Glenn sees his wife hanging from a contraption that’s for working on the ceiling. He makes known he’s up for some “zero gravity nookie.” Jackie reminds him she is not really into post-marital sex, and he shows her on the calendar where he had called to schedule “Sex with Jackie.”
– Thirteen-year old Connor peeps with Glenn at a female neighbor who is getting out of the shower.
– Connor also says double entendres like. . . While lifting weights, “I’m so hard right now.” When feeling his muscles, “These pythons could choke a chicken.”
– In a flashback, Glenn watches obscured porn (complete with moans) and quickly switches it off when his wife comes home.
– Glenn comes into the bedroom and asks Jackie if she wants to “churn some butter.”
– Amish woman says, “Don’t be afraid of the Mennonites. Be afraid of the Men at Night. I was Amish when I got there, but by the end of the night I was a Quaker.”
– Amish girl asks Connor if he would like to see the hair under her bonnet. He joyfully replies, “I get to see your hair!”
“Glenn Martin, DDS” on RELIGION:
– Daughter accepts a trophy and thanks “the man upstairs.” She then looks up to see an old guy waving in the rafters.
– When told not to take pictures of Amish people, Glenn says he wouldn’t want to get the man in trouble with “his god,” but then tells his wife to sneak a picture later.
– While escaping a gang of Amish who want to hurt him, Glenn takes their pictures to stop them in their tracks and yells, “I’ve got your souls, losers!”
“Glenn Martin, DDS” on BAD IDEAS:
– Eleven-year-old daughter asks is she should enter an equestrian event or a bourbon making contest.
– The Ringmaster of a circus exclaims, “Yeah, I’m not allowed to drive on goofballs and GIN, but that doesn’t stop me!”
– Connor is too busy to look at Niagara Falls because he is staring into his handheld video game. When his parents request he stop and come look, he boasts, “I’m about to kill a prostitute.” His mother tells him, “He is not old enough to kill a prostitute.”
– Glenn’s kids corrupt Amish children with worldly ways, haughty attitudes and mini-skirts.
“Glenn Martin, DDS” rounds all this out with a substantial dose of crude humor that ranges from mild goofy pratfalls to excessive vomit and sticking one’s head in an elephant’s rectum. I suppose a case could be made that those things are no worse than some of the crazy cartoon images sometimes portrayed on “Spongebob Squarepants,” but when coupled with the aforementioned content, “Glenn Martin, DDS” is not a show for our kids.
Be aware of what your family is watching. I encourage you to let the producers and programmers know how you feel about this drastic swing in Nickelodeon’s content.
Editor’s Note: GLENN MARTIN, DDS is an animated series on Nickelodeon about a family who hits the road in a dentist-mobile in order to reconnect their family unit. The show exudes a steady diet of sex jokes, innuendo, religious disregard, foul language and bad ideas for raising your children.