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Television Media

Kermit the Frog to promote V-Chip 201

StainlessSteelRat writes "It's a shock to me, but my favorite green man has become the spokesfrog for the v-chip. He will be, "Explaining the v-chip's purpose, its practical applications and the rating system that works with the device," to the same people that can't seem to get their VCR's to stop flashing 12. " My childhood has been ripped away-the question I have, is the V-chip what's at the end of the rainbow connection?
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Kermit the Frog to promote V-Chip

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  • I predict that Jim Henson will come back from the dead in the form of Godzilla with the head of Richard Nixon to destroy Disney in response to this profane development.
  • Could someone please explain to me (with or without the benefit of muppet spokescreatures) exactly what I'm supposed to be protecting my children from?

    Could someone please post the results of any sort of study demonstrating a correlation between the viewing of fictional sex or violence with mental or emotional disturbance?

    I have yet to see any evidence whatsoever that the viewing of this "explicit material" -- and in particular, sex -- is somehow "bad for children". (I can understand the desire to shield children from displays of violence; but not sex. Sex is a natural function, and is how those children got here in the first place.)

    For the record, I'm a father of two children myself.

  • It has an assumed noun and verb of "It is". You understood it, didn't you? Then it's not really a sentence fragment. Should we keep going?
  • Herfin der torper tungden tuhbersen fergun. Turbendernder!
  • It turned his brain into guacamole.
  • i'm dutch
  • Exactly. And unfortunately, this will only exasperate that problem. It encourages "drop 'em in front of the TV and let 'em bake for hours" parenting.

    I disagree. I don't think that this will make the problem much worse than it already is. I think that Children's shows have already made the problem (Seasame Street is now Daddy)... I think that parents who tend to neglect their children will continue to leave their children in front of the T.V... this will just give them more of a piece of mind. I think that parents who still spend lots of time with the kids for the most part won't be largely affected by this... but it will help, maybe, when the baby sitter you don't know comes over and wants to watch BrutalDeath III, or when your four-year-old wakes up and slips downstairs to watch whatever is on HBO at 2:00 in the morning.

    Anyway, it's a purely optional thing and so I don't think it's so bad.

  • Check under the couch.
  • How long will it be before someone uses v-chip data to FIND sex and violence?
  • Bullshit. Its about providing more choices. Its about providing tools for parenting. Who gives a fuck if kids can't watch certain channels? They can just go read a book.
  • Sitting next to your child every minute may be preposterous, but there's a better solution. Raising them to know what is "good" and "bad". Or raising them to realize the difference between reality and television. It may be too much to babysit their TV time, but having discussions with them at dinner about what they watched isn't that preposterous.

    The v-chip isn't about this. It's like security through obscurity. They assume that by removing "bad" elements, we can raise "good" children. How about this, pointing out "bad" elements and introducing them as such?

  • Hmmm....

    i am not sure the change would be for the better.

    ideally, we could just censor all the ads on our tv's and life would be nice.

    although, i would suspect that it would drive advertisers to use even more sneaky and questionable methods, by blurring content and advertisment, for instance.

    compare to the effect of the remote control on the television advertising industry, for instance, might yeild some insights.

    although, it would be interesting to see perverted censorship technology and politics re-perverted into something useful - the right to control what we watch.

    but then again, i don't have a TV.

  • by jabber ( 13196 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:32AM (#1685632) Homepage
    Not because parents will assert their rights to raise their kids in their own way.

    Not because kids are clever enough to bypass any and all 'child-proof' methods laid before them.

    Not because the Federal Legislature is about to grow a conscience and a common sense, and thus realize that this whole censorship in the name of the children is rank with hypocricy...

    No. It will fail because most of the parents that would even consider using it, still have 12:00 blinking on their VCR. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him RTFM.

    As for Kermit, well... Good riddence to another fallen fairytale. Exposing the children to the fact that even their childhood friends are sellouts is a worthwhile lesson. Disillusionment is good. We do not want our kids growing up in a world of illusions and false beliefs, do we?

    Here's to reality!
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:33AM (#1685633) Homepage Journal

    It just occurred to me that this would have been a great way to sabotage the V Chip. Back when they were trying to push it, instead of opposing it, we should have tried to bog it down with features (like tagging ads) that other groups (networks) would have opposed. :-) We'de just have to figure out some bullshit way to spin it as being "For The Children" and no one would be able to stop it.

    Gotta keep this in mind for next time...

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • The owners of my cable system get to decide exactly what does and doesn't get broadcast. Why are their rights more important than mine?

    I don't know where you live but that's not the case in most (if not all) of US. The cable system is required to transmit all broadcasts within a certain range of their audience. The non-broadcast channels (MTV, Comedy Central, HBO, etc.) are included by contract with your local community government. (which also set the rates)
  • I find it strange that this is happening. Mainly because I was shocked when I watched 'Muppet Treasure Island'...comparing it to the other muppet movies I have watched, this one seems to have quite a bit of sexual innuendo (much more than a frog and pig getting married), for example, the context with which Miss Piggy greeted "Loooong John".
    Maybe I just didn't catch all of that in the older movies because I was younger at the time.


  • LIAR! you are not rainfall and your email is not Try posting as yourself next time, or at least don't include an email that isn't yours.
    "New worlds are not born in the vacuum of abstract ideas, but in the fight for daily bread..."
  • I heard it on the "in the year 2000" segment on Conan O'Brien's show:

    "In the year 2000 - The marriage of Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog will come to an abrupt end when he converts to Judaism and can no longer eat pork."

    Ok, bye.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • I don't know about you all, but I've had the ultimate V-Chip for years. It's call a "remote control".

  • by Suydam ( 881 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:09AM (#1685643) Homepage
    So...let me get this straight. In order to explain a simple concept to PARENTS....they had to go and contract a children's puppet?!

  • >I'd rather a Blue Screen of Death than the constant adverts

    Well, believe it or not, I saw the next best thing
    I was in Stowe, VT, watching "Legend" on Saturday night, and flicked through the channels during a commercial break.
    There on channel 10, the local community access, was the infamous "Windows 98 is shutting down" screen.
    They must use it to run the slide show that's on most of the day.
    If my snapshots come out, i'll post it somewhere.


  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:10AM (#1685645) Homepage
    Kermit the Frog is now a puppet of the evil empire. Once Jim Henson departed, Kermit became a pawn of the same company that now owns the first three letters of the alphabet in television. He is under mind control. There's nothing you can do about it. Mickey has his hand right up Kermit's butt and all we can do it just watch him dance. It sure is traumatic, but we hopefully can still cover our butts before the mouse shoves his gloved hand up there too. Otherwise we'll be using "Wholesome Family Entertainment" just like Wilford Brimley used it to describe oatmeal. God help us all!
  • The only problem with fade to black detectors is that some shows, take Frazier for example, fade to black during the show itself. Then you lose part of the show.

    Another way of blocking ads that I've heard of is monitoring the closed captioning, since commercials tend not to be closed captioned (AFAIK).

    The problem is there isn't a definite "if X then its a commercial" relationship to rely on. There never will either. It's death to a network to say broadcast some information along with the way you make your money so that people can ignore them and put you out of business.

    Just do yourself a favor and switch to PBS (although those "sponsored by" notes are getting very close to commercials these days).

  • by Suydam ( 881 )
    On a more serious note... Does the estate of Jim Henson control when/where his characters are used to further political agendas? This seems like the sort of thing he'd have been very much against.

  • is the V-chip what's at the end of the rainbow connection?

    No. At the end of the Rainbow Connection is a mixture of partially hydrogenated soybean oil, cats, cellulose gum, chicken wire, dipotassium phosphate, thiamin, riboflavin, red dye #2, mono and diglycerides, shredded Office97 documentation and artificial colors and flavorings. And it's owned by Viacom.

  • Hmmm... maybe it is just me, but maybe, just maybe parents should be spending time with their offspring and not letting the TV/Mass-media/Vchip raise them? WHatever happened to reading your kid a book or something?

    just my $.02

  • The purpose of the v-chip is to block content. blocked content=censorship.

    Regardless of that, anything which arbitrarily labels content is censorship. The mere act of labeling something is a very real form of censorship.

    Here's what the ALA [](American Library Association) has to say about labeling: (full text can be found here [])

    Labeling is an attempt to prejudice attitudes and as such, it is a censor's tool.

    They have much more to say on the matter, so I recommend following the link to the full text.

    Generic Man
  • Well, it makes sense when you consider the mentality of the parents who need a piece of silicon to raise their children for them.

  • Bah!
    I've a 5 year old Sony VCR that has an internal battery that keeps the time when the power goes out.

  • I find it a little pathetic that they needed to use a children character to explain something to parents. I bet most children don't even need Kermit to explain to them how things work.

    I think it's to explain it to children, so that they can then explain it to their parents! In the meantime, they can hack the v-chip and get to watch all the Power Rangers they want. :)

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • And what you don't know is that Galileo did have quite a bit of proof..

    for example:
    1) the sun has spots (not perfect as the church liked to think)
    2) Jupiter has moons which revolve around it, which means that Jupiter is an object, not just a spot on a perfect sphere
    3) Venus has phases (like the moon, from crescent to full)
    4) the moon is a physical place... all those funky spots that look like a face are actually 3 dimensional: mountains, craters, etc.

    And yes the church was bad and evil because several of the cardinals looked at Galileo's evidence and understood its implications perfectly well, but chose to punnish him in order to save face.

  • by Tom Christiansen ( 54829 ) <> on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:12AM (#1685655) Homepage
    What I really want to see is one of the metadata rating bits they send over the wire to be one that indicates whether you're currently viewing an advert. That way it can be blocked.

    It might be possible to leverage off the "parental control" issue here. I know more than one family who has ditched the TV because they didn't want their children corrupted by the interminable advertspam. This is a real issue for some parents. It's just as much part of letting parents have a say in what kind of crap gets stuck in their kids' brains as the sex and violence and adult situations bits.

    And it's a real issue to some non-parents, as well. I'd rather a Blue Screen of Death than the constant adverts.

  • When I was a kid the "old folks" had a saying.

    God protects children and fools.

    This kind of makes a paradox because the fools are trying to protect the children now. The V-Chip will do nothing except force TV prices up.

    The kind of morons who use the TV as a babysitter are the ones who will "need" the V-Chip, once you block out programming with sexual or violent content it will cease to keep childrens' interest and then these assholes will have to find another babysitting appliance to bitch about.

    How long before M$ takes a hint on this and incorporates violence and sex filtering into Direct X?

    Ratings are a bullshit way to inpose censorship.

    Movies that get an NC-17 rating are destined to bring in no money because most theaters won't carry them. Just as the X rating was the kiss of death for movies in the 1980's.

    I remember seeing the original robocop when the ED-209 fired for what seemed like 5 minutes into some guys chest, then two weeks later I saw it again and it went down to like 2 seconds. Why was the change made? Because the MPAA had threatened to slap the movie with an X rating if they didn't shorten the scene.

    HBO, while they'll show damned near anything in their original productsion also will not carry X rated movies.

    I'm sick of these fscking egg heads trying to protect us from ourselves. I want to eat a big bloods rare steak. I want to eat REAL butter, not that partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil bullshit!. Sometimes I want a cigar, or a cigarette. I KNOW that they're bad for me, but I WANT to do it anyway. I don't need you to protect me from myself.

    Maybe I'll die at 75 instead of 77 because I had one too many bacon cheeseburgers. Or maybe I'll die tomorrow in a car accident.

    God protect us when the fools want to protect our children.

  • Those will mess a kids mind up good. Better she should watch Sailor Moon...
  • I know it's off-topic but can someone shed some light on the purpose of the quarter ads? Did the US Treasury have reason to believe that people would stop using quarters in favor of two dimes and a nickel or something? Why did they have to spend money to contract Kermit the Frog to advertise currency that everyone already uses? How much did they pay? I know there must be a conspiracy around here somewhere ;)

  • While I lament Kermit being used as a tool of censorship, I can't bring myself to be scared of the V-Chip. Maybe a 3000 node cluster of V-Chips, though.
    See? I didn't even use the word 'Beowulf'

    --Conquering the Earth Since 1978.
  • I'm a muppetholic, I had fraggle rock birthday cake. But, by far the funniest thing ever was on the Daily Show with John Stewart, which is sooooo scripted, but this one part seemed to be genuine improv. John Stewart asked Miss Piggy a question (she was promoting muppets in the space) and she started to stutter on her answer, and John's face lit up for a second as he said, between laughs:

    Got a frog in your throat?


    If tom green interview a muppet, I'm imagining a squirt gun filled with gasoline and Tom smoking a cigar...
  • by fable2112 ( 46114 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:39AM (#1685663) Homepage
    That's how my parents handled me, and I'd like to think I turned out relatively OK. I'm 21, have a college degree and a full-time job, a boyfriend I'll probably marry in a couple of years, a nice apartment in the city, two well-cared for cats, etc. :)

    I was never told "You can't read/watch that." I was VERY rarely told "I'd prefer you wait on that one until you're a bit older, but I'm not going to stop you." And I listened because I trusted their judgement. (Well, Mom and I didn't see eye-to-eye on music or movies, because she doesn't like to be depressed by her entertainment, but Dad was no problem.) Heck, my parents were going to take me to Last Temptation of Christ when it came out ... I was a young'un then, and *I* didn't want to go. *chuckles* But my family is pretty open about this sort of thing, and my father is VERY anti-censorship.

    Also, I generally had better things to do than watch most TV, whether it was going to the library, swim team practice, drama club and band rehearsals, or (now) SCA practices, meetings and events. I don't watch much television now: a few comedies I like *if* I happen to be home and not busy, the news (sometimes), the occasional PBS special, and a movie here and there if I wanted to see it anyway.

    Mindless acceptance of ANYthing, "kid-safe" or not, is unhealthy. A caring parent is going to make that very clear to the kiddies.

  • Yes, The Henson Associates [] and all its trademarks, characters and images are owned by the Henson family (the closest you can come to the "estate of Jim Henson"). They were going to be sold to Disney, but that never fully went through. On the other hand, since Jim's unfortunate departure, the company has gotten frighteningly commercial, and works very closely with Disney.

    Regardless of whether or not Jim Henson would be against it, his survivors seem to be very much for it. It's a shame.

  • If your kids are young enough (between 3 and 6) you can perform your own experiment. Let them watch "The Shining", you'll experience emotional disturbances until dawn.
  • There has always been quite a bit of sexual innuendo in kids movies.

    The great thing about that is that it all goes straight over the kids' heads (who just laugh at the way Miss Piggy says "long") and allows the poor parents who have to sit through a kids movie to have a few laughs as well.

    Check out many of the old Merry Melodies cartoons and you'll see much of the same. Adult comedy hidden within a child's medium.

  • Right now a program that questioned the basis of say a fundamental faith system would probably get some sort of adult tag.

    That's a really good point. I seem to remember a scandal involving one of the internet blockers who were blocking Jewish sites....

    Censorship is too easily misused. If I'm in charge and I don't like what someone else thinks or says... blip... censored... regardless of the validity or invalidity of their viewpoints.

    Any minority viewpoint is destined to be censored in such an arrangement. Check out Alexis De Toqueville, a Frenchman who toured the early United States and pointed out that American democracy will inevitably lead to a "tyranny of the majority"

  • Because of this, I have serious doubts as to whether or not I'll ever watch or buy anything by Henson and company ever again.

    Censorship is the true obscenity, and this is what it's coming to. I wish things were different, but as it is I'm beginning to consider leaving the country as soon as I get out of college (assuming the government still allows people to leave the country at all by then). In the interests of "protecting chiuldren" they would reduce us to a nation of children. Then again, this is probably what they want, since children are easier to control than adults, especially adults who actually exercise their own minds rather than let the government do their thinking for them.

    Intellectuals need a government lobby. We should try and get organized; I know it's the nature of us geeks to work alone but it takes concerted effort to make a difference. That's why the Slashdot Effect works; millions of people all doing the same thing at the same time (sure, it's not really concerted, but you get the same effect). It's how Linux works; imagine where it would be now if only Linus worked on it and no one else. It can work in real life too. I hate to turn Slashdot into a political platform, so this is best done on another site. It's probably a lost cause for our generation; we're all going to live under at least a brief period of totalitarianism at some point within the next fifty years, I'd imagine. But if we want our children to have any freedom whatsoever, we have to organize and get out into the real world.
  • Once the V-Cchip is in place and the children are 'protected', TV producers begin increasing the amount of sex in their shows to compete with other networks' shows. In no time we'll be able to turn on any prime-time TV station, and watch full frontal nudity, or maybe even a little penetration (if we're over 18 that is). Hell, I wouldn't be suprised if the only resistance to the V-Chip comes from Pay channels, like HBO, Cinemax or Playboy.

    Maybe they should've named it the P-Chip, and have South Park's Chef endorse it instead of Kermit The Frog... I can just hear the commercial jingle now.. "I'm gonna make love to ya woman..."
  • I am still PISSED OFF that George Washington is on the back of the Jersey Quarter crossing the Delaware and not Kermit the Frog like in the commercial. :-P
  • In the book form of Carl Sagan's _Contact_ the billionaire industrialist character made his money that way. A device called the "AdNix". There was also a product called "PreachNix".

    Just another relatively newbie perl hacker
  • SSh.. Don't tell them that.. They might try to rationalize it..
  • 'Squize me? How are your tax dollars going to be used? Why don't you move to a less oppresive society. Oh wait.. Then you'd have to fear for your life..
  • Regardless of that, anything which arbitrarily labels content is censorship. The mere act of labeling something is a very real form of censorship.

    Wow, that is prehaps the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Oh my God, look at the card catalog it categories books by category!!! What a horrible form of censorship!!!

  • The estimate I heard was about 50 cents a unit. Hell, and I pay the people bitching and moaning about the V-Chip on here 50 cents toward their next TV purchase if they'd shut up about it.
  • I resemble that remark! Not all people who's VCRs flash 12:00 are utter morons, you know - some people have good reasons to leave their VCR flashing midnight (or is it noon?)

    My VCR flashes 12:00 - well, really it flashes AUTO. Why? Because it's one of those auto-time-sensing VCRs that pick the time off of the datastream running through it to the television. And, for some unknown reason, my current cable company apparently doesn't include the time in the data they feed me.

    You say I could set the clock? Sure, but then when the wind blew my power out, I'd be right back to square one. When you loose power an average of 2-3 times a week, resetting the vcr is a low priority.

    As for Kermie promoting the V-chip... I'm not sure about that. How many parents are actually going to *enjoy* being talked down to by a stuffed green frog? Even fewer than would enjoy being explained the process by their children, I'm sure. Parents are *not* idiots, in the main. Even those who want to rely on some technological doohicky to babysit what their kids watch on TV rather than actually spending the time one needs to with remote in hand to do it yourself. Or spending the time discussing with children what they see on TV and explaining real versus fantasy vs televison and what is right and wrong.

    However, Kermit's career's been rather dead of late. I'm sure he felt that any job was better than *no* job, and maybe he thought if he got his face out there, and got to talk to a more mature audience, he'd actually get a shot at some of the leading man roles in *real* films. Can't you just see Kermit the Frog in Total Recall 2? Or how about in Matrix 2 & 3, as a bad guy, even. Kermit's so typecast as the fun-loving, happy-go-lucky, all-around-nice green guy, I'm sure he's itching to do something more evil.

    Be sure to look for Kermit the Frog as Mini Me in Austin Powers III.
  • As for Kermit, well... Good riddence to another fallen fairytale. Exposing the children to the fact that even their childhood friends are sellouts is a worthwhile lesson. Disillusionment is good. We do not want our kids growing up in a world of illusions and false beliefs, do we?

    Heck no. What we want are mindless, unimaginative worker drones. If we can make everyone really cold and untrusting, hell, that's just bonus!
  • Shaw Cable puts out a mag called 'The Big Picture' which is basically an advertisement disguised as a magazine (complete with recipes and horoscopes!). I found it suspicious. If you're not too swift, you might never get that in w/all the other ads are ads for Shaw stations. I find it amusing. The articles are extremely dumbed down and pretty pointless. I could write a better two-page introduction to HTML that the one that's in the current issue.

    The idea is that the mag is subtitled something like "a survivor's guide to wired living". Yeah, it's tough being plunked in the middle of all these whiz-bang things, but c'mon, a V-chip??? What's so hard about that?

    I find parents today pretty sad. I know it's a hard job, but I'm tired of the neighbour's kid "expressing himself" with a carton of eggs (on our house).

    But then you know, this was in the Simpsons all along - you know the one where Sideshow Bob is trying to kill Aunt Patty (or Selma) and Bart uses hand puppets to explain the concept of natural gas explosions.

  • OK, it took me a few minutes. Why would TV broadcasting companies kill the goose with the golden eggs??? Well simple they are not. On the contrary.

    Porn and violence is good for advertising. So the last thing they want to do is get that of the screen. But they can't just broadcast more of it because then parents and politicians start to complain. Here comes the V chip! What a nice product. If you don't wan't all the porn and violence enable it. If you want porn and violence, leave it in the default position (off!).

    In other words the V chip is just another symptom of America's hypocritical culture. Politicians and parents can rest assured because the V chip is going to save their children meanwhile tv companies can increase the level of violence and sex in their programs.

    And since the average american is too lazy to even walk to the postbox (see other post on slashdot), most of them won't bother to enable the bloody chip (if only for the trouble you have to go through whenever you want to see a movie without the children present).

    So from my point of view the V chip is brilliant since it will shut up those fucking moralists for a few years and at the same time the tv programs will get even more interesting.
  • You teach your kids not to drink poison, but you also put a lock on the cabinet under the sink when they're ten months old.
  • i think the goal may be to feed off that beanie baby frenzy that is going to be ending in the next few months. people are going to have to collect all 50, some quarters are going to be retired soon and they'll become more valuable, and so on and so forth. get in on the collecting quarters thing early. some day all those quarters will be worth something.
  • Fine, that is your right. You can set rules about what your son can and can't watch and I won't complain at all. I will complain when the government forces all TV manufacturers to include a censorware chip and thus forces all consumers to pay for it whether or not they want it (You can buy a standard transmission. Very soon I will be unable to buy a non-vchip-crippled TV). I will also complain when the government intimidates the networks into establishing a ratings system that would be illegal if done through a law.
  • Yeah, all those people you mentioned originally did all their work for charity... shame, really...
  • Heh, I get it for free....

    Let's hear a big round of applause for the tragedy of the commons!!!
  • Do I have to spell everything out?! Follow the damn link [] I supplied to find out what is meant by labeling. apparently didn't want to before, so I might as well quote that part to you as well...this is at the end of the page:
    This statement, however, does not exclude the adoption of organizational schemes designed as directional aids or to facilitate access to materials.

    I would like to think that people on /. have the brains to extrapolate this sort of thing on their own...but sometimes I wonder.

  • Here's a brilliant animation that explores Kermy's, ahem, relationship with Fozzy Bear (you'll need the Flash plugin to view it):

    The Kermit Intermission []

    Check out the other Flash stuff there by James Paterson, pretty wild stuff.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That about sums it up. Mention one little thing and the linux zealots get all fired up about nothing.
  • This is one of those few cases where I don't care about the underlying technology. Ug.... censorship is bad. "Censorship causes blindness. Read." Or something like that.

    Actually, I may be interested in the technology, if it helps me circumvent and sabotage it. American Empire, here we come! Oh, wait....

  • Well, I don't know about getting porno, but it would be nice if they would start showing more movies un-dubbed. You know the movies that are totally ruined by editing the language. Movies like comedys where most if not all of the jokes are of an adult nature or contain BAD words. They show them but why? In the edited form they are not only no longer funny, but most of the time they don't even make sense at all.

    Maybe commercials will be better too, imagine an ad for bras, "When My tits got saggy like this, (removes shirt to reveal the now deflated milk bags) I turned to the NEW SUPER TITSLINGER 2000"!!! Or one for a jock itch powder, "Gee Dave, my balls are driving me up a wall but you NEVER seem to scratch. What's your secret?" "Well Bob, I use NEW MAXIMUM STRENGTH NUTS GUARD, it really works!!!" Or a feminine hygene spray....

    What was my point again?

    Nevermind.....I didn't have one.

  • jhoffmann wrote:

    some day all those quarters will be worth something.

    Yeah, after a while they might even be worth twenty-five whole cents!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I recently bought a new Philips TV, which, as per law, has the V-Chip in it. This all seemed rather silly to me, but I really liked the picture quality, so I bought the thing anyway.

    So as soon as I got home, I decided to check it out. First off, it seemed very flakey who was sending the tagging as who wasn't. I set it to block TV-Y7-FV just to see what would happen, and found that if I was on Fox, and the power rangers came on, sometime it would blank, but other times I would have to switch channels, then switch back to get it to blank.

    I was also immensly ammused that it did not block South Park, no matter what I tried. And, although you can set the TV to block specific channels, many people have DirectTV (including me), which seems to foil it rather well most of them time.

    All in all it seems like a very under tested technology. I really question the idea of the V-Chip, but if you are going to do it, you had better to it right, or else no one will be happy.
  • and it isn't me. Some channels are in, some are out. Is that censorship? How is it different from the V-chip, besides that fact that I can turn the V-chip off?
  • It's interesting because many advertisements have similar sex, violence, adult situations that parents would want to have blocked from their children, so blocking ads could be a valid feature. Similar to the way movies show the "rating" for a trailer before the trailer is shown.
  • now that you mention it - it wouldn't suprise me a bit if someone starts selling V-Chip blockers. It's rather like the telco who 1st sells someone "caller ID" so you can see who's calling, then turn around and sell someone else "caller ID blocking", so that people w/ caller ID can't tell who's calling!! In the end, you have two people paying you and their right back where they started. These are all basically forms of techno arms races - you sell one group weapons and then turn around and sell their opponents counter-weapons - the only ones who come out ahead are the arms suppliers selling 'upgrades' to one side to equalize the power differance caused by them 'upgrading' the other side.

  • The v-chip blocking commercials, infommercials, and the often repeated station id ego might do more than protect little children. It would prevent my mind from rotting having to watch the senseless crap after already paying good money by the month for programming in the first place. Seems like they would have advertisements to support the advertisements if they could get away with it. Cable and satellite television is a big scam. Just wait until television will have interactive v-chips and require you to click on the ads to see the next scene. Its only a matter of time...
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    Jim Henson must be spinning in his grave.
  • ^^ Moderate him up.

    This is a great idea.. Its probably too late though :( But maby it isn't we ought to put our resources together first to hack the current one (this will force a new one to come out.. cause we arn't getting rid of it.. and on development of a new one we can jump up and offer to "help")
  • > BTW, am I the only one who feels that children need to be taught what is approprate to watch through caring and good parenting, and not through technological mandates, or am I in the minority here?

    As someone who has been a father for over 18 years, I agree with you on principle, but unfortunately, the world is not so simple. Clearly, the ONLY way to really teach children is by example, however the reality is that there are legions of other forces fighting against you. Unfortunately, the world is not a nice place for the innocent, and I want every advantage I can get to help me instill a true sense of values within my children.

    On the other hand, by now it's pretty much a moot point for me. At 15 and 19, both of my kids are at the point where they must learn to make their own decisions. Now it's time for me to sit back and hope that I've taught them well over the past years.

  • I haven't had the chance to try one yet -- but based on the hype that you can block 'offensive material' from entering the household, I really want to try. Because if I can't block televangelists with 800-number prayerlines, infomercials, and any show with more than 5 minutes of advertising in any given half-hour the hype is wrong and I'll be complaining.
  • I am not saying that parents should sit with their children %100 of the time while they watch TV, just that (as has been mentioned maybe ten billion times in the comments to this article already) that the TV is a bad bad replacement for child-parent interaction. Especially TV nowadays.

    Maybe It is just me but it seems like when I was a child (late 70's early 80's, no so long ago, granted) Tv didn't suck so badly. Perhaps I am just older and more discrimiating now. Or maybe it was just that I didn't actually watch that much TV (mostly just saturday morning cartoons), and I actually went outside once in awhile and my parents read to me, and then suggested good books for me to read when I was old enough, and took me to the library and encouraged me to participate in this thing we call life instead of just giving up and ploppping me in front of the tube for hours on end...

    I know of many many children (some in my family, cousins etc..) that come home from school and do nothing but TV/sega for six or seven hours until their parents make them go to bed.. I fear for the future when the majority of children are brought up this way..

  • oh man, that would be great. I'm a careful parent who tries to limit my childrens' (3 and 6) TV time to reasonable limits and to make sure the shows they do watch are appropriate. What I hate is when the kids sit down to watch something fairly innocuous (sp?) and then ads for WWF wrestling or the latest Kung-Fu movie come on. I'm not about to let the gub-mint censor what my kids watch for me, but it'd be nice to know that for the 1/2 hour that i'm letting them watch Scooby Doo, that they're not going to get blasted with "brutal body-slam action!" and stuff like that.
  • They're probably just roommates. Do you have any idea what the rent is like on Sesame St?
  • [the Muppet posse is on stage at instruments. Kermit enters stage left]

    Kermit: Hey there parents did you know, you don't even have to watch the show,
    Just press a button, set the screen,
    And your child will grow up to be a teen...

    [kermit exits, set fades]

    Announcer: Yes, it's true parents.. You just have to set the V-chip settings on your TV and you no longer have to censor what your kids watch, and if you can't figure it out... ASK YOUR KIDS!

    [V-Chip logo appears, with the slogan 'Making TV safe for our (we mean your) Kids"]
  • It is actually in one or another way already active on Filmnet here in Europe. Filmnet has 5 levels of locking on their digital decoders.
    Still i find it a good idea to let your children look to the channels they should watch to. There is always a endless debate who should let the children know where they should watch to but, go imagine yourself ... where you not curious as a child when you where 14 ? I was that curious, regardless my parents who were explaining me a lot - that i just still wanted to play with that TV box and remote ... i still wanted to play with electricity ... until a big bang came from the circuit brakers but anyway - thats not the issue here...

    Children are curious .. some more than others ... even as parent you could sometimes not kill the curiousity of a child .. even better - as a parent you should NEVER kill the curiousity of a child, since it makes you what you are.

    Still there are maybe things where a child is not ready for, like pure porn on television. For this there is a solution now on Television niveau, not on the decoder but the television.

    I do not have children, so i leave the lock level at 0 but, imagine ... if i had children i would put it on 3 ... why ? coz - i know ... it will ever happen ... and i would not be the one continuesly pointing out that he/she may not do it ... since i believe in it that a child MAY be curious ... as long it is in the limits ...

    A little bit open-minded thinking would really give issues in this world. They are not banning you know, they are improving some lock level that could be used to protect your children from certain content.

    • Using the frog as a spokesman, i dunno ... i am not agreeing with that ... it is like "fake advertising" ... or trying to make stuff stronger than it already is ... i do not believe in that stuff, but you have any idea how much parents are going to believe in that ?
    • The v-chip is not made as a BAN, it is made as a additional protection, so why should you bother? they do not take away things from you!
    • The V-chip is being controlled by the parents, not by the manufacturers or the channels. OF'course - a endless discussion can be created about the content being put under different levels, thats work for critics, some are really critic and some are like easy over content. Still, it is the choice of the parents what lock-level is being used.
    • maybe ... they should use those levels or ratings in another way.
      1. Blood and gore - rating 1,
      2. splattering brains and blood - rating 2,
      3. soft porn - rating 3,
      4. hard porn - rating 4;
      since then ... parents can really decide what should be content for their children or not.

    As long you try to think that this is NOT an invasion of privacy but a tool that can be used .. both right .. and wrong ... it depends in whos hands it is ...

    Freaker / TuC
  • Its Miss Piggy. That whore has always been a poor influence on Kermit.
  • Is it just me, or does it seem that Kermit the Frog, a little green puppet, is going just as many or more seemingly un-related promotions than basketball, baseball, golf (what else?) player, Michael Jordan? Kermit... has done the new US mints (the special, per-state ones), and now the V-chip? Is he going to pick up on hamburgers next?
  • Hacking or disabling the vchip itself would be quite pointless. Anyone who has the knowledge to implement such a hack would probably not have mommy and daddy censoring them based on the ratings.

    As far as i can see, the only way to get around this would be to sabotage it at the network's systems, making all shows have the lowest rating, and I can't imagine that happening.
  • The V chip doesnt just censor television; it will cause bland, tasteless TV-Y7 shows. Why would an advertiser want to advertise on a TV-MA show when it will be blocked out? Less viewers will see the ads, and advertisers will support the TV-Y7-whatever, resulting in no support for the "more mature" series. Good bye NYPD Blue, ER, etc.
    GOD FORBID you actually try parenting your child instead of having the government do it for you. Parenting isn't a 9-5 job.

  • Can't we have one conversation without referring to MTV? :)

    /me wonders if he should invent a "Suck" chip to give the next generation a chance to not grow up like Jello Cubes once MTV is fully filtered.
  • I have a VCR that flashes 12:00 (two, both go --:--). Why? Too lazy to keep setting the things. Where I live, power outages > 1 hour happen a lot (not because of undercapacity. Because I live in a mixed overhead wire/underground line area, and idiots keep driving into power poles).

    The effort required to reset the VCR's is tremendous: turn on TV. Press Menu. Go to Set up. Go to Clock. Adjust clock to current time. Press Menu. Turn off TV. Then boom. Next day, *another* blackout. I don't know about you, but I get really annoyed at having to set the blasted VCR every day for a week...

    Plus, the people who use the vcr (not me) tend to play back movies rather than record (mine is auto time setting. Rather nice).

    About the V-chip: Seems people here are knee-jerking again. Do you *HAVE* to use the vchip? Can you not set all the settings to the mode that corresponds "I want it all"?

    Why aren't people angry at having to pay for something they don't use? (Although, I like the vchip-in-tv idea. At least it'll give the young'uns some electronics knowledge, rathern than the "Just unhook the wire here, hook it to this..." type knowledge).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There were some discussions on a mailing list not long ago about making a $5-$10 ASIC that would block out ratings (causing everything broadcast to appear to be the most innocuous level possible). This chip would sit in between the wall and the cable box (having RF in and RF out), and would allow people to circumvent the V-chip.

    Does anyone know enough TV electronics to contribute useful information on how to build this? I'd like to design it, and I do know about some related areas, but it's a low priority for me, since, though I hate censorship, I also hate television. :-)

  • I think that "Face It" is short hand for "I can't justify my position but everyone agrees with me anyway."
  • I have never said this on Slashdot before, but you are an idiot. Who appointed you the moral guardian of the media? Why are you uniquely endowed with insight as to what makes one expression meaningful and another garbage? To take an example you brought up, many people with three digit IQs are able to see a great deal of social commentary in South Park. Oh, but I forgot, it "violates all social norms", so therefore it's evil. We can't have people running around expressing new ideas, look what trouble that lunatic Galileo caused. As far as natrual rights, perhaps you should take a look at the First Amendment or its equivalent in other nations. It even protects your right to produce such anti-freedom fascist horse excrement.
  • ideally, we could just censor all the ads on our tv's and life would be nice.

    There is a way this can be done. I remember an old Zenith television that would mysteriously blank the screen when the advertisements would start. The only way to get the picture back was to cycle the power switch.

    I later found out why the television was doing this. It was the "fade to black" video editing when they would switch to the advertisements that would trigger this event. There was something wrong with the blanking circuit on the television that would latch the whole picture for good when the darkness levels reached that threshold. Very few times during a movie would this happen. I would have to say it was quite a great misfeature in that old television; unfortunately, it worked for the video, not the audio that is the most annoying attribute of advertisements.

    Its been a while since I worked on televisions, but if they still do fade to black editing at the levels like they used to, a simple circuit could be made to squelch the audio until a reset button or the next edit occurred. It would be a level detector connected to one of the video test pins usually found on the main board, connected to either a latch or a flip flop. Have a pushbutton to reset the state.
  • Kermit also will be annoucing the following:

    Oscar the grouch will no longer be visible unless you have your V-chip set to a rating of Y7+ because parents feel he is too much like a homeless person and thus too scary.

    Snuffalupagus will also no longer be visible without a TV-14 setting because of the phallic nature of his nasal appendage.

    Elmo will not be visible without a setting of TV-MA due to the perverse nature of his tickle fetish.

    Today was brought you by the letter V...

    - JoeShmoe

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
  • You say that restricting the channels my television will display violates my childrens rights. Isn't not owning a television restricting their rights even further?

    The owners of my cable system get to decide exactly what does and doesn't get broadcast. Why are their rights more important than mine?
  • by Erich ( 151 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @04:18AM (#1685754) Homepage Journal
    I think that the biggest problem in most of modern culture is not that we have too much violence on tv but that our parents don't spend enough time with their children. That being said, is the V-Chip so bad? Sixteen-year-olds are able to get their parents to give them the password, or are able to get their own T.V. So their rights aren't infringed. Three-year- olds aren't able to watch blood and gore on TV. Is that so bad? Shows that are designed for Adults but which appeal to kids for the wrong reason (Southpark comes to mind) are at least a little harder for kids to get into. And all of you who are old enough still get to watch it. What's so bad about it again?
  • The networks will never support it, because the advertisers pay their bills. Violence, dirty words, and especially sex are much easier to point fingers at and filter out than mindless commercialism.

    More's the pity, too. From a business perspective, they shouldn't be biting the hand that feeds them, but from a helping-the-kids perspective ... well, let's just say that I think banning TV commercials would do much more to prevent future Columbines than banning violent TV ever will.

    But because TV stations and most politicians can't afford to bite the hands that feed them, kids are being indoctrinated with the keeping-up-with-the-Jonses mentality at younger and younger ages. I'm surprised advertisers aren't trying to set up ad-screens a fetus can watch in vitro. :P

  • >Hey no one has to buy a TV with a V-Chip

    right, unless you want a screen larger than 13"

    "A 1996 telecommunications law requires all new TV sets 13 inches and larger to come with the technology by 2000."

  • We are talking here about individuals being able to filter out what they consider to be trash.

    That would be true only if the government had no hand in the matter. In reality, or course, the government drove the whole process, subsidizing it by making it mandatory (to drive down the unit cost at the expense of people who have no use for it) and determining which categories of content would be rated.

    (Don't bother to dispute the latter point unless you are prepared to state with a straight face that Congress would have voted for a mandatory chip that could be set to add a LIAR LIAR LIAR crawl every time a politician appeared on the screen.)

  • The TV is a brilliant invention for removing a persons mind through their eyes.

    Now, if they could just make one with a button that would allow yolu to turn it off...
  • This isn't about the cable system deciding what does and doesn't get broadcast. Any channel COULD conceivibly be broadcast if there was enough DEMAND for it. If you don't like what the cable system offers, demand more. If they don't offer it, pick a diff. cable service (almost impossible here in the states, but that's another issue).

    What the v-chip is about is the government limiting choice. Not the parents of the child limiting choice. It's about the belief that parents are not responsible enough to raise their own children.

  • by Mr. Mikey ( 17567 ) on Monday September 13, 1999 @06:54AM (#1685803)
    Perhaps I can clarify. The V chip (as I understand it) allows the TV owner to block out programs that exceed one or more levels of rating categories. For instance, I set my TV to block programs with a Violence index of 4. I don't know the number of categories off the top of my head, but I believe it's things like sex, violence, profanity, etc.

    In and of itself, it seems pretty harmless. The concerns are things like:
    1. Who rates the individual programs?
    2. On what basis do they do so?
    3. Will that basis be publically available.
    4. Will there be an appeal process?
    5. How will this rating system affect what programs are produced?

    Speaking for myself, I'd like to see nudity and sex treated in a realistic manner, rather than having it glamorized and reviled at the same time. As for violence, let's make things more realistic (i.e. f you get shot in the shoulder, you aren't going to be walking around any time soon). Others out there have different ideas about what they want television to be. The fear is that a rating system and V-chip combo will influence programmers to produce, well, pablum. They will strive to not offend anyone, so we are left with the lowest common denominator (even more than now). The ratings system could result in TV being even more afraid to challenge, to question, to take chances.

    Here's one scenario: people set their V-chips to some level suitable for their children -> not wanting to be bothered, they leave it there -> programs that don't meet this criteria don't get watched -> programmers stop making programs that don't satisfy the thresholds most people use -> everyone, whether they have kids or not, whether they have a V-chip or not, has to watch the same programming, because that's all that's being made. Unlikely? Perhaps, but that gives you some idea of what people are concerned about.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"