Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dept of Ed vs. Buster the Bunny

A nice little example of the bush administration practicing:
censorship
homophobia
discrimination

Here's a little insider information from a couple of editors (myself included)
at the PBS affiliate, WGBH Boston, who produces The PBS Kids' Series
Postcards from Buster.
Watch and take some action, please.
This is an outrage to all who hold their nationality dear.


53 comments:

Chalupa said...

That's kinda crazy that they want to censor that. However, I can see why some parents wouldn't want their kids to watch it. If I had kids I think I'd let them watch it, but then I would want to talk about the parent situation with them.

Anonymous said...

I wrote Spelling a letter urging her to reconsider her narrowminded decision. I guess her reaction does not surprise me, but it does really annoy me. Bigotry dies hard. Let's do our bit to kill it.

Verdi said...

Very well done Ryanne! Thanks for putting the contact info at the end of the video and thanks for making it.

Chalupa, you can see why some parents wouldn't want their kids to watch? I don't understand how someone could call themselves a good parent and hide things like this from their kids - even if they don't agree with it. Lots of things go on in this world that I don't agree with! I don't shield my kids from that stuff - it provides an opportunity to talk about it.

Marc said...

Ever since November, this general concensus of homophobia makes me ill.

I'm holding back the urge to bash all things conservative, but in an effort to not stoop to that level, I'm going to hope that the American mindset changes in the near future.

Barring that, I'll move to France.

It's time to wake up, and realize that this is human nature and you can't discriminate against it like we used to about blacks. Civil rights are tantamount to some bigots perception of their ever shrinking world perspective.

ok... I'm done.

Anonymous said...

Ryanne:

Via Ants I was introduced to video blog, and your work has been super entertaining and always a ‘check this before bed’ event for me ever since. Generally I have looked to your work for funny stuff, like your Power Ranger remix.

Thank you for facilitating this interview with Jean and bringing this somber but thought provoking piece to light.

This is great work. Thank you for it.

-- Erik from Cincinnati

db said...

my letter to margaret:

Nothing could be worse than teaching our children about diversity.
Nothing could be worse than teaching our children about love.

Let's teach them about censorship and corporate greed.
Let's teach them about politicians, who are so concerned about being re-elected that they never accomplish anything.

Maybe if WE had learned "being different is ok" we wouldn't have to kill so many people.
Maybe if WE had learned "being different is ok" we wouldn't be so financial fucked.

Here are some vocab words, kids, LISTEN UP!

censorship
close-minded
bigotry
homophobia


This is what you are teaching and if YOU are not fixing the problem then YOU ARE PART OF IT!

what are you so afraid of?

db

Anonymous said...

Ryanne, you never cease to amaze me. That was well done my friend.

My daughter watches Buster and all the other PBS shows. I feel its somewhat a "safe" channel, meaning she can watch it without my supervision and without me having to explain much.

I think the Buster episode in question is a good episode and should not be censored. Though I would appreciate it somehow if I knew it was going to be shown so I could help convey such a "controversial" topic to my 4 year old. If she sees something that is foreign to her life (given a mom and a dad), the least thing I want her to do is criticize, judge, make comments because her little mind can't comprehend something my adult mind can. I would love the opportunity to help her to love and understand people as much as her parents do.

Wow. Just wow. Thanks Ryanne.

Aaron
thevoiz.com

Anonymous said...

I know it sounds strange, and counter-intuitive, but I believe that sometimes the best thing a person can do is NOT react. I don't think that this episode should even be an issue. If we treat it like every other Buster episode, our children will learn that having two moms isn't a big deal. It is normal. And they will go on with their perception of the world only slightly altered. Children learn new and different things every day. This is just one of them. I wouldn't sit down with my kids to watch the "buster visits a black family" episode. Even though my family is not black... you get me? I do think that a reaction is VERY necessary to let the people at PBS and GBH know what we think. But, like everything else, if our children have questions, they will ask them. If we just say, "what did you think about that episode?" we give our kids a chance to ask any questions that might be floating around inside them. we can facilitate conversation without projecting our own prejudices. We are the ones who think it is an exceptional situation, not the children.
Great video, Ryan. Thanks.
~mae

Miria said...

Hi Ryanne,

Thanks for doing this. I guess I'm past being angry about what's happening here - this just made me cry. I left a message for Spelling. Keep up the good work.

Take care,
Miria

Aaron said...

Man, I cant believe how serious this is. I heard about what happened first on Best Week Ever on VH1, I laughed about it. But now I see it as a really stupid thing to do. We have to have our future face the facts while they are young so they learn to accept it when they grow up. Im 17 years old and when I grow up I wouldnt mind if my child would watch a cartoon that exposed them to that kind of reality. On the other hand, I would not like it if my children turned out gay, but I will love and always accept them. Its not the media that really makes children what they are- its the parenting. That's pretty much it for me.

stuartml said...

I agree completely, its time for people to wake up and SEE REALITY. Love is Love. Those that are so homophobic and react so negatively to this have issues with themselves that they cannot accept.

I really liked the idea of buster, what a pitty.
Thanks for making this ryanne.

Doug said...

This is just another example of the righteous right and their extremist Christian agenda trying to impose their censorship and suppressive ways on the American people. Just when I thought we had come a long way toward equality and acceptance of one another on all levels emerges today’s regressive regime. I think this too demonstrates the power of blogging, be it video based or otherwise. If this doesn’t get your gears tuning, the thoughts rushing and your blood boiling nothing will. Stand up and fight for what’s right! THAT’s what made America!

Lisa Harper said...

Great post, Ryanne. I skipped over this as a byline in the Washington Post but totally found the topic interesting the way you presented it. You should do video commentaries for a newspaper! Spelling's idiocy is the reason I try to ignore reading too much news in the morning...

Anonymous said...

ryan, this is a great video.
none of this is surprising, just sad. mae - AMEN sister.
xo jason

Anonymous said...

Ryan,
Because of your post, I wrote Margaret Spelling and reminded her of the significance of Brown vs. the Board of Education.
I think she must have forgot or something.
Joy

Anonymous said...

I've gone into complete shock about how much money programmes like this cost to make. TV as we know it is not going to survive the end of cheap energy, the planet really cant sustain such waste.

Mig-LSD said...

At these times I´m glad I live in a small European country. Tough a very conservative one (and about to see a "republican" government give way to a "democrat" one...), we go lighter on those things. Not perfect but...
Congratulations Ryanne for true public servive.

Chalupa said...

michael - just to clarify, i didn't say i don't think kids should watch. i just think i have an idea of why someone would feel that way. it can be much easier to avoid, run away from or censor something then to deal with it, talk about it, confront it, or talk to your kids about it if they have questions.

Jodi said...

Ryanne,
Thanks for the post. I think everyone in America should be forced to watch your video. You inspired me to stop working and send Ms Spelling an e-mail... See below...

I am a 26-year-old heterosexual woman who grew up watching shows on PBS. Public Television helped shape my view of the world and I intend to let my children (when I have children) watch the educational programing on PBS.

I saw several portions of the Buster show where Buster meets a family in Vermont that is headed by two women and I thought it was WONDERFUL. That is exactly the kind of programing I hope my children get to see. Because, while, I don't choose to have a family like theirs, I certainly want my children to understand that some people do. I hope to raise open-minded and well-informed children so that they will not grow up to hate or fear what they do not understand.

How can children in America remain well-informed and tolerant if people in the government, like yourself, begin to censor media based on individual likes and dislikes? Regardless of whether or not the current administration agrees with homosexuality, the reality is that there are more than 250,000 children in the United States today who are growing up in households with same-sex partners as parents. Should our socety ostracize those children and their families because they are different? Since when has our country been about punishing difference?

We thrive because of our diversity and same-sex couples are a part of that diversity. Certainly you can't think that those 250,000 children of same-sex couples all deserve to be margianalized? You can't shove reality in the closet and only present the types of families that you personally approve of in children's television and literature. Our job as adults in this world is to show children what is out there and let them make up their own minds. Pulling funding for a show like Buster is a tragedy -- not for the show's creators, or for PBS, but for the nation's children and for the beautiful complexity and diversity that for so long, Americans have been proud of.

Sincerely

Patrick said...

Great video blog. Thanks for posting it.

We watched the episode with two other two-dad families and four kids. What struck me most was how disappointing and discouraging it must have been for the children who participated in this episode to find out, first hand, how the federal govenerment views their families.

Anonymous said...

dear jodi,
thank you. that was awesome.
~mae

Anonymous said...

Mae said:
I wouldn't sit down with my kids to watch the "buster visits a black family" episode.

From theVoiz: I disagree. The comment made equal the homosexual issue with the African-American issue citing how we would not sit and talk to our kids about Buster visiting a black family today. Yes, but pre-1960's we would have, if we were intentional about teaching our children how to love, understand, and accept all people.

Case in point: Tanya, the wife, and I are not homophobes. As Christians, we have had many gay friends and are seeking everyday to understand people period, as we would want them to understand our lifestyle as well. I personally support the idea of gay marriage and gay's rearing children. MTV is typically on in our household. One day, our four yr. old caught a glimpse of a two men kissing. That's all they were doing -kissing. She said, "Gross daddy! Two guys kissing. Guys aren't suppose to kiss." Her remark was made because the gay lifestyle is foreign to her heterosexual parents and what she sees daily. Did we teach her that? No! Instead of over reacting and changing the channel, I decided to allow her to watch without changing it. I then explained to her that sometimes two guys or two girls fall in love and kiss. It's different than our family and we can disagree with two guys/gals kissing, but we should never disrespect, hate, say "gross," or other things that may hurt people. Instead, we should be loving, kind, and understanding. She agreed. My worst fear is for her to see someone in public with a lifestyle that is foreign to hers and says, "Look. Gross." She recently passed the test, not blinking an eye as two women kissed in front of her at a restraunt.

Conversation with the kids is pertitent if we wish to raise a different generation kinder to each other than ours.

Aaron
theVoiz.com

Itty said...

really great video. thanks :)

Jean said...

A reply to the person shocked about the cost of making TV. It may seem expensive per show, but when you divide that by the number of children whose undivided attention you get from the boob tube, you find that it is a very inexpensive way to reach many kids with an educational message.

dunoyer@rcn.com

Anonymous said...

thats so not right.its a crazy world kids got to understand that from the get go so they dont grow up like that bitch.

randy

Anonymous said...

so let me get this straight, the department of Ed gives money to fund educational (public) television and Spellings 'threatened' to pull that money for that episode? that money wasn't coming from any corporate sponsor, it originally came from the government?
i just wanted to make sure that was right!
thanks!
ashe

Road to Ruin said...

This brings to mind a conversation I had many years ago with a dear (lesbian) friend concerning discrimination in all its forms. I said I thought we could get a jump start on ending it if everyone was naked all the time, because that pretty much takes the barriers down--and then we decided that with marriage between the cultures we will eventually be all one sort of golden color--so the color issue would be gone. But in the end we decided that we would have to be all one color and all one sex for discrimination to truly disappear. Hmmmmmm......

Lighten up! It's a stupid cartoon rabbit for God's sake!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting that online. It really is sad to have people like Spelling display prejudice. The government in Canada is trying to redefine marriage to include gays and lesbians, and running into so much nonsense from the Conservative opposition right now. Someday we all shall learn to accept people for who they are. Don't give up the fight!
Neale Adams
Vancouver

curiousgemini said...

My first comment is that

The irony of the religious Right’s agenda is that it doesn’t really do much to improve people’s values.
Banning gay marriage won’t prevent a single divorce, banning abortion will not make people have more respect for human life, abstinence only classes doesn’t really stop teens from having sex, a 500,000 dollar fine for “obscenity” will not stop people from looking at internet porn and attacking cartoons won’t give kids a stronger sense of right and wrong.
Pat Robertson, Fallwell and others of their ilk are nothing more than con artists, convincing their supporters they use their money to “change the culture.” They actually haven’t and they can’t, not really. The leaders of the religious Right deludes people into thinking their improving our society when they are only lining their own pockets.

curiousgemini said...

The irony of the religious Right’s agenda is that it doesn’t really do much to improve people’s values.
Banning gay marriage won’t prevent a single divorce, banning abortion will not make people have more respect for human life, abstinence only classes doesn’t really stop teens from having sex, a 500,000 dollar fine for “obscenity” will not stop people from looking at internet porn and attacking cartoons won’t give kids a stronger sense of right and wrong.
Pat Robertson, Fallwell and others of their ilk are nothing more than con artists, convincing their supporters they use their money to “change the culture.” They actually haven’t and they can’t, not really. The leaders of the religious Right deludes people into thinking their improving our society when they are only lining their own pockets.

dee said...

What most interests me about this whole issue is the implications Spelling's assumptions about public television being directly answerable to the party in government.

The idea that tax-payers' money that is given to a public broadcaster should be repaid if its message diverges from that of government is an insidious one. Tax money should not be used to fund party-based propaganda, and yet Spelling is casting the argument as though the government should "get what it pays for".

There are so precious few voices in the mainstream media that can be considered anything close to independent: it is imperative that we protect those that are left.

Great blog!

Bill said...

Great video Ryanne. This is the first chance I got to glimpse the program that caused so much controversy. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a cartoon and that they had drawn lesbians in it, which I certainly thought was fine but could understand how the right wing moralists might get upset at it. But when I learned that Buster was visiting actual living human children, whose family just happened to include two mothers, I was aghast that anyone - outside of a hardcore bigot - could be upset about it. I mean, kids with same sex parents actually exist here in America. How in the world is it offensive to show actual living, breathing law abiding families? I just can't fathom it. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that there are a lot more hardcore bigots in this country than I imagined.

Anyway, I appreciate your efforts to shed some light on the subject, Ryanne. Great blog.

ryanne hodson said...

got this e-mail today.
thought i'd share another view.

From: matt-ben@cox.net

Your video interview with Jean D., the senior editor on Postcards From Buster can only be described as disengenous. It is obvious that your concerns over "censorship" are really about the censorship of your ideas. This is evident in the analysis on your webpage where you
state that the Bush administration is practicing homophobia. This clearly demonstrates that it is, in fact, a goal of yours and Mr. "D" to present the homosexual lifestyle to kids.

I don't find that goal offensive in and of itself. But I would love to see your defense of a similar presentation of Buster visiting a family of neo-nazis or paligomists or any other group that segments of the society find offensive. (Before you start your shrill response, please understand that I am not saying homosexuality is analagous to naziism. I'm merely pointing out that it is unlikely such material would either be produced by your martyr, Mr. "D" or defended by you and your ilk. (Of course, those positions shouldn't be defended by any rational person).

With that said, please forgive me if I, and most Americans, don't fall in lock-step with you and your brethren who have a very clear goal of indoctrinating children, albeit incrementally, into thinking the way you and other "progressives" think. Why don't you try letting parents teach their kids what kind of relationships are acceptable, not Buster the Bunny.

Matt Bennett
San Diego, CA

ryanne hodson said...

my response:

i would complain about censorship
from all ends of the spectrum not just things i am passionate about.
i think censoring any idea is bad for a free society.

wether it be lesbians or nazis

i have never called myself a progressive.

i am human
and i believe in showing how lots of people live
that includes you
and that includes a lesbian couple in vermont.

i dont know what your lifestyle is
but i can guess that whatever it is,
buster probably visited a town and a family much like yours
so why not give others a chance to be shown as well?

have equal airtime
and let the lesbians decide if showing YOUR way of life
is acceptable to their family.

it goes both ways my friend.
it goes both ways.

Richard said...

Thanks so much Ryanne for creating this video & pls. thank Jean for participating in it (under threat of losing his job I imagine). I've been writing in my blog about this incident for a few wks. now & I've searched for & asked for precisely the kind of info you provided (i.e. contact info for PBS & Spellings plus a statement from the show's producer's about their position).

With the recent fallout of Pat Mitchell's resignation & the news that the top CPB executive put pressure on Mitchell to pull the plug on the show, PBS has fallen to the nadir of its creative existence. This reminds me of the job the trogdolytes did on the NEA during the first Bush presidency. Seems they're slumming for a new target & they've locked their gunsites on PBS.

This comment won't allow html or I'd give the links to my post here. If you do an internal google site search at my blog for "Buster" or "Spellings" you'll find my previous posts on this terrible situation.

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2005/01/pbs_caves_to_bu.html

ryanne hodson said...

our good friend MATT again:

from: matt-ben@cox.net

Understand that you are talking about a publicly funded program, pursuant to
the mandate of the Ready to Learn Program. We are talking about public
dollars.

You state in your responsive email that you would "complain about censorship
from all ends of the spectrum." Certainly you cannot sit there and tell me
you would support public funding for such horrendous positions as
anti-semitism, naziism, racism, pedophilia or other equally noxious ideas
and activities.

Truly think about your response and please try to be intellectually honest
on this issue.

ryanne hodson said...

my response to matt:

i wish i could have a video conversation with you.
text does not do this conversation justice.

do you have ichat or video im?

lets talk real time.

i want to hear what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

Dear matt,

Despite what my personal views may be, anti-semitism, naziism, racism and pedophilia are all practices that can condemn and hurt innocent people; this is obviously entirely inappropriate for children’s public television. Focusing on the issue at hand, please tell me how the family in this episode is teaching anyone to condemn, hate or hurt another human being.
In my view, your argument has holes.

Likewise, please truly think about your response and please try to be intellectually honest on this issue.
Thank you.
~mae

Anonymous said...

F*cking hell ! What is wrong with some of you ?

This is quite obviously a clip made about a family, now the makers arent so stupid as to think there wouldnt be any backlash but they quite obviously dont think they need to censor themselves and hey, they DONT !!! this is LEGAL you conservative a$$holes!

This is a family that obviously loves each other and the fact that two of the parents are gay doesnt mean anything bad at all, would some of you have a problem with one parent being jewish ? or black ?

Conservatives make me want to puke, frankly I am tired of the intelligent, progressive side saying we need to be patient and "not stoop so low", f*ck all that, the smart side is sometimes too nice and thats the EXACT reason the U.S. is in such a rotten, digusting situation, murdering thousands of innocent people overseas while the american body count piles up.

I say bash the sh*t out of ever conservative you see, fight them !!! or they will brainwash enough people long enough to install progressively more radical and insane governments.

Why hasent anyone knocked off Bush yet btw ?

Laura said...

When I was a kid, Seseme Street showed me that there were families where there was only one parent and families where grandparents raised their grand children. And yet, my Mom never felt the need to explain these things to me, even though they weren't what I had at home. I remember wishing I didn't have my "father" a man who was violent, bigoted, ignorant and abusive, and was amazed that not every child had to live like I did. It gave me hope and educated me at the same time.

Let's remember that the right wing conservative bigots, whether religiously inspired or not, don't just want to ban same gender marriage - they'd like us to disappear from the public eye in general, and don't understand they are up against the tide of history. They are frustrated that no matter what they can do in elections, in laws, in pronouncements, no matter how many times they can erase the very words gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or even "diversity" from any government funded project, gay people are not going away, are not meekly heading back to the closets, didn't conveniently roll over and die. And the public still watches them on TV shows, still reads their books, still celebrates their relationships on the pages of newspapers and in movies and even - gasp - on the internet. And as every gay person comes out to their friends and loved ones, we get more people who wonder just what the damn fuss is about. Time is on the side of the progressives. It always is.

Christian Brower said...

Homosexuality isn't illegal.

PBS is publicly funded but in the end most of the funds come from people and corporations who don't have a problem with the show so the show should play and if the "sponsors" walk away from PBS then they made a mistake.

If you don't like what PBS shows then don't let your kids watch it. This holds true for all media TV, magazine, radio, Internet...

Progressive seems to be the new buzzword and I must say it sounds much better than liberal or left.

It's interesting how people like anonymous; who considers himself/herself to be more intelligent but couldn't help use at least three profanities and muse as to why the sitting president hasn't been assassinated yet.

Good luck in 2008 genius.

bottomunion said...

Long live Buster the Bunny, and long live loving lesbians living in the green mountain state....and my love to all

Yiftach said...

Ryanne, thank you. Thank you. And thank you again.

I saw your video at the iFilm Viral Video channel, and posted my own entry about it at http://yiftach.blogspot.com/2005/02/teach-your-children-well.html.

Thanks, and I'll be giving Ms. Spellings a piece of my mind.

Anonymous said...

thanks for posting this.. letters have been sent!
thanks again.

veronique

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that no one has condemned the violence put forth here, but have certainly condemned all those "right-wing bigots" Truly amazing. So much for tolerance huh?

Anonymous said...

I noticed the word bigot (or bigoted or bigotry) being thrown around pretty freely in this thread, so I decided to look it up on m-w.com

It is: "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices."

I challenge some of the people who have posted to re-read your own post and see if there isn't an obstinate devotion to your own opinion. If so, your post is bigoted.


Are you "intolerantly devoted" to tolerance? No, you don't see it....not even a little bit...come on, are you kidding me? Why all the anger? Why the reference to knocking off Bush by anonymous? Or michael at the top saying "I don't understand how someone could call themselves a good parent and hide things like this from their kids." Not agreeing is one thing, not understanding how someone could think something suggests bigotry. I can definitely understand a lot of views I don't agree with.


Okay, before I get crucified, a couple of final thoughts.

One: great blog, great video. One sided, but it never pretends to be anything else.

Two: there are a lot of good points mixed in with the bigotry. But don't let yourself off easy and say you're one of them without re-reading your post.

Three: show your tolerance by at least acknowledging my view as being reasonable. Please don't post saying, "I DO have kids, so there" or "you're the bigot, bigot" or "obviously you’re some idiot who voted for Bush." You have no idea what my political views are. I'm visiting this blog, aren't I?

okiechick79 said...

I can understand why this type of content is edited. From my experience stations do not like to recieve letters from concerned parents.
I have two young kids and don't really think that they should be thinking about this type of thing. there are many thing that children need to be taught and exposed to, but I think this subject is over their heads.

Anonymous said...

I was particularly moved by the comparison of Buster (2 moms) to that of funding Nazism, genocide, mass murder using public tax payer dollars -
Buster needs to take us to see what we really do with our taxes; buying bombs of freedom for families over oil rich soils. Do "big kids" cry when we shoot them? Did you know that our enemies pay blind loyalty to their flag?
Lets get Buster an armed bodyguard (that's real) and have more programming teaching that gun violence is a regular piece of experience. I have ONLY seen gun violence on the media (every day). And on the premise that we are infallible and always right: Lets teach our youth to kill for freedom. Wave their flag, its a “big stick” warning to the world not to mess with us.
Where are the faces of those we have wrongly accused, those we have wrongly punished. Where is our Christian forgiveness? Where are the peace makers.

Anonymous said...

The question is not why the board of education doesn't support it but why this show thinks it is their job to educate every child in the USA about the issue of same sex partnerships. As sensitive as this issue is, I wonder why they chose to confront this issue instead of the thousands of other topics they could have dealt with? Judging by the majority of responses and the video, these people have an agenda to further. A liberal agenda. Just because you are a liberal doesn't mean you have to forward all liberal ideals to other peoples children, especially when they have come to trust the content of the show.

No matter what anyone says, this issue is one that PARENTS have the right to teach their children and I expect the government to make sure children are not indoctrinated with the agenda of a small hetrophobic segment of this country. Thats right HETROPHOBIC! This is not a same sex issue, it's a parents rights issue. Too many people want the government to further their views as a political position, loony Christians included. Thats just plain wrong. If this show had bashed same sex relationships, I would be just as avid for the same reasons. It is not their job to decide what is best for other persons children. You want to expose your children to it? Go right ahead, that is your right. But don't start labeling people just because their choices are opposite of yours.

Anonymous said...

This show was censored?! That's so stupid. That's offensive. not only to the general public . But also to parents who want to expose their children to different types of relationships. This Spelling woman is being close-minded.

To Ryanne: Great job!

Anonymous said...

This show was censored?! That's so stupid. That's offensive. not only to the general public . But also to parents who want to expose their children to different types of relationships. This Spelling woman is being close-minded.

I live in the U.S and it is basically being frowned upon to be different. Banning same sex marriages is a new low for the country. Telling two people that loving each other is wrong is a new low. Someone needs to slap Spelling for being so homophobic.


To Ryanne: Great job!

ryanne hodson said...

whats with the new influx of folks watching this video? did some one link to this or show it some where? just curious...

Anonymous said...

I found it at the iFilm site.