Nov. 6, 1972: President Nixon on television on the eve of the presidential election. Unable to photograph Nixon in person, the enterprising Times photographer shot TV screens instead. Photo: Tyrone Dukes/The New York Times
It is no longer shocking that national icons are used for commercial purposes — the sound of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was heard in a Chevy-sponsored ad for the MLK Memorial last summer.
The first reflex upon hearing Robert Frost hawking a car is to gag. (A caption lists the poem’s title and says the excerpt was licensed from his publisher.)
But thinking a bit longer about this, one wonders whether it’s not such a bad concept. After all, the ad exposes millions more people to Frost’s treasured words and voice.
Is commercialization the price of culture and learning in America today? It’s hard to say, but “the woods are lovely, dark and deep.”
Dirty words are back at the Supreme Court today. As NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports:
For a second time in three years, the justices are hearing arguments about a Federal Communications Commission regulation adopted during the Bush administration that allows the agency to punish broadcasters with stiff fines for the fleeting use of vulgar language….
At the Billboard Awards broadcast in 2002 by Fox, Cher accepted her prize by saying, “I’ve also had critics for the last 40 years saying that I was on my way out every year. So f- - - ‘em.”
The FCC cited Fox for indecency, and the network went to court, claiming unconstitutional punishment of speech and a violation of the laws governing how agency rules are made.
The best part of all this is that we get to remember the Surpeme Court’s landmark 1978 FCC v. Pacificaruling that upheld the FCC’s power to regulate indecency on the air, a case sparked by a father’s complaint that a radio station broadcast George Carlin’s seven “filthy words” routine (you know what they are) one afternoon.