One Million Moms, the conservative group that seemingly will not rest until all of popular culture is sanitized beyond recognition, has found a new target: January’s TBS show "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee". Even though the show hasn’t aired yet, that hasn’t stopped the group from complaining about it and trying to rally its “family values” troops to protest it. On its website, complete with a petition to TBS to cancel the show that’s been signed by a whopping 4,900 people, One Million Moms writes:
“The title of this show alone is unacceptable. Even though airing later in the evening since it is a late night show, the name will appear in the TV lineup of programs scheduled and previews will air earlier during the day.”
In my book, criticizing a television show you haven’t seen simply for its title is sending a far more dangerous message than Samantha Bee ever could. It’s saying: Yes, judge culture by what you think it will contain, rather than what it actually does. It’s saying: Words are so powerful that the mere mention of them is enough to scar children for life. It’s saying: Don’t think for yourself, but allow your parents to think for you. It’s saying: There are “good” words and “bad” words and you’re too immature to even be told about that concept, let alone differentiate them for yourself. Not to mention that “full frontal” does not necessarily mean literal nudity; as blogger Joel Rieves points out, “the phrase has picked up another meaning along the way: nothing concealed or held back, direct, hard-hitting, etc.”
Maybe, just maybe, explaining a concept like sexism in media, or the fact that Bee is breaking out of the shadow of Jon Stewart to launch her own show, complete with “10-pound lady balls,” would actually be a good concept for kids of all genders to learn about. I’m not saying the show will necessarily be appropriate for all ages, but there are plenty of good reasons to give kids food for thought, rather than spoon-feeding them pre-selected political platitudes that in no way help them think for themselves.
Buzzfeed writer Matt Debenham detailed why he lets his kids watch adult shows such as "Transparent," "Breaking Bad," "Weeds" and "Louie." He explains, “For all the adult subject matter, a surprising amount of what we watch is thematically relatable to a kid’s perspective. Laverne Cox’s Sophia being shunned/bullied/excluded for being different on 'Orange Is the New Black'? What middle-schooler won’t recognize that? 'Broad City'’s Abbi begging for more responsibility, yet constantly being handed a mop? That IS adolescence.”
Yet in the worldview of One Million Moms, television is a one-way experience; shows impart messages, and viewers either tune in or tune out. The notion that children can absorb, question, process, and even disagree with what they see on their screens doesn’t even get a mention. They’d rather short-circuit discussions about what’s happening in politics and the news if they don’t conform to a conservative mindset, rather than tackle some of the hard questions that might come up in viewing a program like Bee’s.
Many more forward-thinking parents, such as Allison McDonald of the blog No Time for Flash Cards, have taken an inclusive approach to reading. McDonald has written about allowing her children to read books that she personally doesn’t like, and why that’s so vital: “When we belittle their choices we aren’t building their confidence, we are stripping it down. Confidence is a big part of reading and kids need it to learn, I don’t want to jeopardize that by making my kids feel like something is wrong or shameful about the books they like.”
Additionally, One Million Moms’ language is completely archaic. "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" will air in 2016, not 1916. They recently accused American Girl of “promoting sin” by featuring two gay dads who’d adopted three children in the November/December issue of American Girl magazine. The article is from the point of view of 11-year-old Amaya, who writes about having everything she and her sister owned stuffed in trash bags, stating, "my daddy started a charity to help kids in foster care feel better about themselves.” Sinful, right?
Most of all, One Million Moms doesn’t seem to realize how out of touch they are with the rest of American pop culture consumers. After all, this is a group that recently called The Muppets “perverted.” Case in point, these perfect Tweets:
Ultimately, I suspect a ridiculous campaign like this latest one will get more viewers to tune in to Samantha Bee’s new show. Maybe some kids of these One Million Moms will even discover that conservative mommy doesn’t necessarily know best—or at the very least, they’ll figure out a way to apply critical thinking to whatever they decide to watch, and make up their own minds.