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Kermit the Frog to promote V-Chip

Hemos posted more than 15 years ago | from the no-destruction-of-an-icon dept.

Television 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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Jim Henson rolls over in his grave (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685614)

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.

Protect our children? From what, exactly? (1)

Greg W. (15623) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685615)

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.

Nobody ever suspected the frog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685616)

Had me fooled.

All this time I was was sure that Bert [] was the evil one.

The frog must've framed him too.

V-chip 2: reverse filtering (1)

Webmonger (24302) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685627)

How long will it be before someone uses v-chip data to FIND sex and violence?

V-chip = censorship????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685628)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but can't the V-chip be turned off by using your TV remote?

If this is true, then how is it censorship?

Government limiting whose choice? (1)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685629)

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.

security::obscurity, morals::vacuum (2)

Grue (3391) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685630)

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?


Re:V-chip for adVerts (1)

adrien (26080) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685631)


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.


V-chip is doomed to failure (4)

jabber (13196) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685632)

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!

Re:Nice idea, but it probably won't happen :( (3)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685633)

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!

Re:I don't understand objections to the V-chip (1)

Adam Knapp (35401) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685634)

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)

A note from the loyal opposition. (0)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685635)

While I am deeply afraid of censorship, I have to admit that as a parent it is almost impossible for me to argue against the v-chip.


What ever happened to companies voluntarily declining to display material that was obviously offensive? Why are so many of the shows on cartoon network so vulgar? Why do we have shows like South Park that play off the corruption of children to create sick humor? What ever happened to those features that HBO would "only show after dark"????

What ever happened to the innocent commercialism of the 50's, where they tried to sell you fast food based on taste, not toys, gimmicks and "cool hip Kid's club"?!?

All of the above are unconscionable -- you can't tell me that vulgar, violent programs don't do harm to children (or adults for that matter) and yet all the available airwaves are used for them.

All the industry needed to do to avoid regulation was exercise self-restraint -- have a moral conscience. They chose not to, and now slashdot-heads are up in arms about how their "rights" (there is no natural right here) are being infringed by asking that people be WARNED before being shown content that violates all societal norms.

I have no sympathy.

Heigh ho, Kermit V. Frog here... (1)

veldrane (70385) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685636)

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.



Sorta offtopic. My favorite Kermit joke: (2)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685639)

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

V-Chip (1)

IanCarlson (16476) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685641)

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

give me a break (3)

Suydam (881) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685643)

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?!

Kermit the frog is a puppet. (3)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685645)

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!

...also (2)

Suydam (881) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685647)

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.

Re:V-Chip/ parents responsibility (1)

benbritten (72301) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685649)

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


Re:give me a break (1)

sterwill (972) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685651)

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


A little pathetic... (1)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685653)

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."

V-chip for adVerts (4)

Tom Christiansen (54829) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685655)

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.

Children and fools. (2)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685656)

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.


I hope there's a way to block tv sermons (2)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685657)

Those will mess a kids mind up good. Better she should watch Sailor Moon...

First against the wall: Brian Henson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685658)

That soulless bastard has been pimping out the Muppets for years. He's corrupted his father's
good name. He's not being coerced; he's doing this for publicity and money.

Don't forget Bert, Ernie and Tinky Winky (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685659)


Re:it's all downhill after the quarter ads... (1)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685660)

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 ;)


Fight Back! (1)

Defiler (1693) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685661)

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.

[offtopic yet related] funniest muppet moment... (1)

dayeight (21335) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685662)

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...

No, you're not alone :) (4)

fable2112 (46114) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685663)

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.

Re:...also (2)

Gleef (86) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685664)

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.


You answered your own question (1)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685665)

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.

Flashing 12:00, Parental Smarts & Kermit's Career (2)

Mur! (19589) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685676)

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.

Re:V-chip is doomed to failure (1)

dangermouse (2242) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685677)

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!

Re:give me a break (1)

gonzocanuck (44989) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685678)

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.

i figured it out (1)

jilles (20976) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685679)

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.


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685680)

They're just good friends. Stop spreading rumors about them.

get it right the first time? (1)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685681)

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.

Re:it's all downhill after the quarter ads... (1)

jhoffmann (42839) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685682)

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.

Arrgghh. Is nothing sacred anymore?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685683)

First the Looney Tunes.
Then Ozzy selling cars.
Then The Who selling Gateways.
Now The Muppets pimping a bunch of ...

I love America!

Re:V-chip for adVerts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685684)

I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to technology such as the V-chip. How does it work? If it attaches a tag to each program that the V-chip reads and blocks according to the users prefrences. Wouldn't it be possible to hack the chip to filter out content that has no tag like commercials. Jeremy

Re:I'm sorry, I don't understand the objections.. (2)

bnenning (58349) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685685)

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.

Re:Government limiting whose choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685696)

It's not about tools at all. That's just the lip service they give it. Face it, censorship is a business now and these are government controlled "companies" that get paid to think up new ways of control. I was a child once and I like to think that I had a mind of my own. It was always insulting when things like this came up, suggesting that kids couldn't think for themselves. TV is not the problem...

Re:it's all downhill after the quarter ads... (2)

Gleef (86) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685697)

jhoffmann wrote:

some day all those quarters will be worth something.

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


V Chips ain't what they cracked up to be (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685698)

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.

My point is that someone decides... (1)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685699)

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?

Re:V-chip for adVerts (1)

greenfly (40953) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685700)

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.

Re:give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685701)

"Funny, though." is a sentence fragment.

Get 'em coming AND going (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685702)

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.


Re:Nice idea, but it probably won't happen :( (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685703)

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...

Ugh (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685704)

Jim Henson must be spinning in his grave.

Re:Nobody ever suspected the frog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685705)

It's actually Sam the Eagle in a frog suit.

Re:Nice idea, but it probably won't happen :( (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685706)

^^ 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")

Re:V-Chip/ parents responsibility (1)

benbritten (72301) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685709)

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..


Blocking ratings? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685726)

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. :-)

Face it... (1)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685727)

I think that "Face It" is short hand for "I can't justify my position but everyone agrees with me anyway."

Re:A note from the loyal opposition. (1)

bnenning (58349) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685728)

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.

Re:Government limiting whose choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685729)

Coersively, with taxpayer money. Parents aren't smart enough to purchase and use their own censoring tools. They *need* big government to force companies to provide them, whether there's a market for them or not. Taxpayers suffer, companies suffer, hard-earned cash is essentially thrown away by collectivist squandering. The Feds know better what to do with your money than you do, right?

In anycase, about reading books - hell, when I was a kid, I read books that would make most of today's 'violent and explicit' content in movies and media seem tame. They're considered Classics. ; ) Murder, Rape, Lust, Greed, Fraud, Vice, Poverty, War, Plague, Perversity, Politics... all the stuff that makes for a rip-roaring good read. I agree, kids should read more! : ) A sheltered child grows up without the knowledge and skills to think and act for him/herself IMNSHO. They're worse off for over-protection in the real world.

Re:it's all downhill after the quarter ads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685730)

You want to collect all 100 quarters. Both the 'P' and the 'D' mintmarks. All 150 if you include the 'S' mintmarked quarters only available in the proof sets.

I think it's cool, really. Coins are fun. I bought an 1858 half dime this weekend at a coin show. And got two 1909 VDB cents in a sack of wheaties that I paid $6 for (2 cents per coin)

Other means to squelch advertisements (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685731)

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.

Re:I like the V-Chip!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685733)

> I can't wait to get XXX pornos without having to pay for cable!!!

Oh please! While the V-Chip does allow the TV broadcasters (cable and otherwise) to place the responsibility of censoring the viewing habits of children back on the heads of their parents, parents in the United States have a lot of prior experience at ducking any responsibility for raising their kids. This means they're not going to start broadcasting porn.

Somewhere out there is a 'concerned parents' group that's still going to go ballistic over every 'offensive' broadcast, even if it's rated "NC99 - no viewers under 99". They'll just claim that the V-Chip is 'too hard' for parents to use. And remember that most of these 'for the children' groups really want to control adults; they just use children as the vector to enforce their will. Don't think for a second that these people will easily give up their favorite leverage point for controlling adult America.

And it doesn't take a very serious piece of technology to baffle most people these days. Most Americans can't program their VCR's, so god help them with the V-Chip. And let's face it, parents that use television to raise their kids aren't exactly major league thinkers. That's why they had to use a puppet to explain the V-Chip to the masses. It's the lowest common denominator effect.

I really only have limited hopes for the effect the V-Chip will have on parents or broadcasters. I hope it will allow me to censor out commercials (I don't care if my kids see South Park, but I don't like them being programmed to demand toys at the supermarket. Barney must die) but that's probably not likely. I also really hope it will encourage broadcasters to release more untampered versions of movies (like the original theatrical release of 'Akira' or 'Blade Runner'), but they'll probably still cut stuff out, if only to preserve advertising time.

In other words, hopefully the V-Chip will let broadcasters bring us original theatrical releases, but it probably won't. And it will _never_ allow broadcast pornography.

Re:I'm sorry, I don't understand the objections.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685735)

Even if you decide not to use it, it's still required to be in all TVs by second half of 2000 (can't remember the exact time frame). There's a section of goverment that mandates this. This means they are using tax dollars to fund this. Tax dollars mean MY dollars. MY dollars AGAIN being used for something I will not use nor agree with. That's my problem with it.

That and those bastards who feel it's their right to slip their slimy tentacles into our lives.

The V-Chip should be optional on TVs for parents who want it, not mandatory. I have absolutely NO idea how parents EVER controlled their children before this *wonderful* invention...sigh..

Re:I don't understand objections to the V-chip (1)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685737)

Hey no one has to buy a TV with a V-Chip. And the point of these adds is that most people don't know
how to use it. The idea here is that you can turn the V-Chip *OFF*. Hey if you want to use it you can. But if you don't want to you don't have to.

If they made me use it I would have a problem with it. But they don't I have a TV without one. (Or maybe it does and I never found that page in my TV's manual).

If I had a kid maybe I would want a V-Chip. But even in that case I could turn it on or off as I wanted. I think that is a very reasonable way to do things.

How much for advertising-free channels? (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685738)

I've seen many repeated comments that TV/cable stations would never allow any kind of technology which would allow consumers to skip over ads, because the ads comprise their sole revenue stream.

How much would it cost for a TV/cable station to run a advertising-free service (or maybe a service with very limited avertising)? How much would people be willing to pay to subscribe to such a service?

Re:Kermit the frog is a puppet. (1)

sterwill (972) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685746)

Oatmeal is now Wholesome Family Entertainment? Only if you've seen UHF!

[you get to drink from... the FIRE HOSE!]


it's all downhill after the quarter ads... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685747)

So now we see him advertising the US mint and the v-chip... is nothing sacred? it just hasn't been the same since Jim Henson died. I wonder what he would think of this? -rain

News Flash: Sesame Street implements censorship (4)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685748)

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

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

I don't understand objections to the V-chip (2)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685749)

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?

I'm crushed (1)

landtuna (18187) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685752)

This was the most heart-rending headline I've read on Slashdot since Microsoft bought a big stake in Inprise. I can't believe dear old Kermit is a proponent of a form of censorship. Jim Henson struck me as someone interested in breaking down cultural barriers and endorsing new ways of looking at things.

I'd hate to see the Muppet Movie blocked for little children just because Rowlf says he "has a couple of beers, takes himself for a walk, and goes to bed," or that Doc Hopper wants to eat Kermit's legs.

V-Chip makes some sense (3)

Erich (151) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685754)

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?

Re:give me a break (1)

SamIIs (65268) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685755)

As children learn more and more about computers, there parents become, relatively speaking, newer and newer to the game. Finding yourself in a new world can be pretty frightening.



It's not easy being green.


SwiftOne (11497) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685758)

My new TV works with VChip. With a few buttons on the remote, you can require password access to a particular channel or rating, and/or see what rating the current program is.

Funny thing is, if you unplug the TV, it forgets what channels/ratings were locked. Oops. So any enterprising young child need only unplug all the clocks, reset the ratings before the parents return, or nail the circuit breaker to have free reign of the channels and no evidence of guilt. (This is a new JVC TV, for those who are curious).

Nice idea, but it probably won't happen :( (2)

fable2112 (46114) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685760)

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

Can the V Chip run Linux?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685765)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those V Chips.

Cool, man.

The V-chip is inherently flawed (1)

metawronka (90656) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685766)

It's just one step from voluntary use of blocking devices to mandatory use of them to censorship then finally to prior restraint. And then we'll have no way to voice ourselves.

Re:How much for advertising-free channels? (1)

Zachary Kessin (1372) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685767)

I would pay about $50 a year. Oh never mind I already do. Its called my membership in WGBH. (Which I really should renew).

PBS Forever.

Don't flame me, but I knda like the V-chip (1)

color of static (16129) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685768)

Normally I'm against anything that can block information, but I kinda like this one. It tags shows with a content label (granted the current method of how it does this is horrible) which I can then use as a filter for my shows. The problem is that as it's implemented I can only use it in a way that fits someone else's idea of filtering.

Right now a program that questioned the basis of say a fundamental faith system would probably get some sort of adult tag. Maybe I want that type of program to be available to my child (yes I'm a parent), but not the program that blindly promotes that fundamental faith system. I'm sure we can all think of examples of this.

Now if it had a set of measures, like sex, nudity, violence, drug use, religous content, etc. I could then use it to filter programs as I wanted my child to be exposed to, not just deny everything that might be offensive to a group of people I don't know.

Granted we could add measures until the cows come home, but that might not be a bad thing either. I don't want my child to flip from barney to a porno flick, but I probably don't want her flicking to Videodrome or the angel channel either (well not for a few years). My solution will continue to be no TV, unless it's family time, for years to come.

The other side of this coin is that if parents are allowed to filter content in a way that makes them feel comfortable then we can start having any type of content that you can imagine on the open airwaves. Yes, that local UHF station that has been struggling for years can then show R, or maybe eventually NC-17, movies uncut (except commercials) to bring in the lucrative adult market. More choice without cable or satellite.

So I guess I'd have a set of measures that are from 1 to 5, and I can have a filter that I set like a graphic equalizer, but with a twist. When the little ones go off to bed make it so it filters out the other way. I really don't need to see barney, but debbie...

To find out... (1)

G-Man (79561) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685769)

...just see if he is blinking S.O.S. during the broadcast. Oh wait, his eyelids don't move, do they? Hmm..probably why they didn't pick Big Bird.

Re:Face it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685770)

So you're denying that people get paid to think and implement ways to censor media? Time to open your eyes...

Re:A note from the loyal opposition. (1)

veldrane (70385) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685772)

I work "after dark" and when I get home to rest during the day, perhaps I should have the privilege of watching the programming I paid for, regardless of whether its "This Old House" or "Saving Private Ryan."
Personally, I prefer Batman: The Animated Series but that's me.


Re:A note from the loyal opposition. (1)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685774)

Hmm... Let's see...

You've called me:
A fascist.
An idiot.

In order to support these assertions, you have alluded to the trial of Galileo and the Constitution: alluded to without actually citing.

In short, you are the logical end reult of a lifetime steeped in violence. You cannot reason, and when faced with reason resort to name calling.

Notice that I don't ask that ANYTHING be suppressed -- you seem to deeply desire that I be suppressed.

Oh... and something that mindlessly violates all social norms is not necessarily evil: just stupid and a waste of time. It is knee-jerk revolutionarism, not legitimate social commentary.

Stupidity Virus (1)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685776)

> What the v-chip is about is the government limiting choice.

Arrrgh! Must be another outbreak of the Stupidity Virus...

Why is it that every time someone mentions rating systems and the possibility to filter TV based on content that there is this sudden outbreak of the Stupids??? Providing a rating mechanism for TV is no more about limiting choices than it is for movies. We are talking here about individuals being able to filter out what they consider to be trash. The fact that we have a rating system for movies gives us more choices: I don't restrict your right to go to XXX rated movies... so long as there is a mechanism in place to keep my children out. Rating a TV program doesn't limit your ability to watch that pornographic or violent show (unless you're visiting in my house). It does, however, allow me to have some control over what goes on in my house.

Sure - in a PERFECT world, parents would ALWAYS know what their children are doing, and what shows they are watching, and what their friends are watching, and what their friends' friends are watching on TV. However, we don't live in a perfect world, and we can't drag our children around on leashes. Personally, as a parent, I have to deal with the garbage my kids are exposed to every day. I need all the help I can get.

Re:I don't understand objections to the V-chip (2)

Jburkholder (28127) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685777)

>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."

Re:give me a break (1)

Adam Knapp (35401) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685785)

And these same parents, who must rely on a frog-puppet, are expected to provide sane, rational guidance to their children and only censor that which has absolutely no socially redeming value. What a crok. I'm not saying that technical mastery of your appliances is necessary for rational discussion but it really is necessary for parents to fully understand what they would be doing to their child if they were to use the V-chip.
Cloistered virture is no virtue at all and censorship weakens the mind.

I like the V-Chip!! (1)

betaray (1268) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685786)

Actually I think the V-Chip is a good idea. With it there is no reason for any censorship at the Network level. Now if they want to put full frontal nudity on TV what's stopping them? No child is going to stumble across it now, right?

Of course this still won't fly for broadcast TV, but it shouldn't be long before every cable channel becomes the Spice Channel.

Free Kermit (1)

MDX-F1 (87940) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685787)

This can't be by Kermit's own free will, he'd never do something like this.....where's the animal rights lobby when we need them? ;-)

Re:V-Chip (2)

jabber (13196) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685788)

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...

Disney doesn't own Henson... honest... (1)

Taper (1253) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685789)

Disney was in talks to buy Henson Associates and the related properties when Jim died. After hisdeath, those talks fell through. Henson has a good relationship with Disney -- Disney distributes their films and so on -- but they're still their own company.

NO!!!!! not Kermit (1)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685790)

No dont do it Kermit. Resist. FREEDOM!!!! Kermit must have a gun pointed at him, its just like those propaganda films they do with prisoners who have been captured. A truly sad day.

TV is a babysitter (1)

SwiftOne (11497) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685791)

Check the time to penetration (marketing term, not mine) for media technologies. TV skyrocketed past radio and telephone...and it's largely suspected to be due to it's babysitting ability. You can plop the kids in front of it, and forget them for a few hours. Turn on, tune in, drop out. Now it's a way of life, and today's parents just raise their kids the way they were raised.

Disney the muppeteer (1)

veldrane (70385) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685792)

Kinda funny considering that one of Disney's ventures involves funding an Adult Entertainment studio. Fun for the whole family!

Ok, so maybe this is flamebait...just no firebreathing mice, please. :)


Re:give me a break (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685793)

You misspelled 'Their'. Funny, though.

Re:I don't understand objections to the V-chip (2)

Grue (3391) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685794)

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.


Re:...also (1)

Webmonger (24302) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685808)

Kermit hasn't been master of his own fate since Mickey bought him out. Of course, the V-chip is good news for Disney (it prevents kids from watching anything else), so it's no surprise they're promoting it.

Re:I like the V-Chip!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685809)

I can't wait to get XXX pornos without having to pay for cable!!!

This is wrong. (1)

dangermouse (2242) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685810)

Making Kermit the Frog speak for the V-chip is just evil. I'm royally pissed that someone would dare twist and manipulate one of the few cultural icons that was actually purely good.

I had a lot of respect for Kermit and what he represented. Now he's just another fucking puppet.

Re:V-Chip/ parents responsibility (1)

dsfox (2694) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685811)

This is a truly ridiculous argument, like TV and books are an either/or proposition. Its the same as saying that everyone who uses a computer is an anti-social geek. And the idea that you should sit next to your kid every minute the TV is on is equally preposterous.

V-Chips, Kermit, and an insult to our intelligence (1)

dlc (41988) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685812)

Is there anyone else who finds this tactic of using a children's character to explain the V-Chip insulting? I'm sure the content of the ad will be extremely dumbed-down--"Now press this button for no sex, then press this button for no violence"--kind of like the MacOS 'balloonhelp' for the V-Chip (not (really) a flame--I comparing the operating isntructions).

As a soon-to-father (any day now!) I resent having to have children's characters teach me how to use the V-Chip, as well as that the government thinks I do. Is this commentary on what the government thinks of the nation's intelligence, in general? Or is it true that parents need this sort of intellect-belittling hand-holding?

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?


I'm sorry, I don't understand the objections.. (1)

Thomas Charron (1485) | more than 15 years ago | (#1685813)

Guys and Gals, I must say, I see NO problem with the VChip or Kermit representing it. Who cares.. You don't like it, don't use it.

I hate automatic transmitions in cars. Do I complain, No, I just use a standard.

Personally, when my son wakes up in the morning at 6:00, and I'm still half asleep, I'd prefer he COULDN'T watch something I don't want him to. Yes, I want to censor my 4 year old. GOD FORBID.

So, the people wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1685814)

...the V-Chip according to the prez, but now no one is taking the time to learn how to use it. Yeah, right. It hasn't made any sense from its inception. If parents weren't concerned enough to have an interest in what their kids were watching with something as simple as a remote, why did anyone think that making the process more difficult would be a good idea? Now, we have to spend tax money to show idiots how to do something that's already documented in the manuals of their TVs. Wonderful.
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