Sunday, September 24, 2006

TOPIC: Talking Veggies Stir Controversary at NBC
I just read a stirring article. Here is the article... along with my comments and a public statement from Big Idea:
Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber always had a moral message in their long-running "VeggieTales" video series. But now that the vegetable stars have hit network television, they can't speak as freely as they once did, and that's got the Parents Television Council steamed. The conservative media-watchdog group issued a statement Wednesday blasting NBC, which airs "VeggieTales," for editing out some references to God from the children's animated show. "What struck me and continues to strike me is the inanity of ripping the heart and soul out of a successful product and not thinking that there will be consequences to it," said L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council. "The series is successful because of its biblical world view, not in spite of it."
That's the signature to VeggieTales. VeggieTales is a collection of animated home videos for children that encourage moral behavior based on Christian and biblical principles. More than 50 million copies have been sold since 1993, according to Big Idea Inc., which produces the series. Two weeks ago, NBC began airing 30-minute episodes of "
VeggieTales" on Saturday mornings. The show was edited to comply with the network's broadcast standards, said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.
"Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view," she said. "VeggieTales" creator Phil Vischer, who was responsible for readying episodes for network broadcast, said he didn't know until just weeks before the shows were to begin airing that non-historical references to God and the Bible would have to be removed. Had he known how much he'd have to change the show — including Bob and Larry's tagline, "Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much," that concludes each episode — Vischer said he wouldn't have signed on for the network deal.
"I would have declined partly because I knew a lot of fans would feel like it was a sellout or it was done for money," he said, adding that "there weren't enough shows that could work well without those (religious) references." All programs set to air on NBC must meet the network's broadcast standards, said Alan Wurtzel, a broadcast standards executive. "VeggieTales" was treated the same as any other program, he said. "There's a fine line of universally accepted religious values," he said. "We don't get too specific with any particular religious doctrine or any particular religious denomination." Vischer said he understands the network's position. "`VeggieTales is religious, NBC is not," he said. "I want to focus people more on `Isn't it cool that Bob and Larry are on television.'" Marks said the network is "committed to the positive messages and universal values" of the show and expects "VeggieTales" to continue airing.
But Bozell isn't satisfied. "If NBC is so concerned about that four-letter-word God, then they shouldn't have taken `VeggieTales'," he said. "This just documents the disconnect between Hollywood and the real world."

I completely agree with Bozell. The signature of Veggie Tales is the Christian message. That message is the reason Veggie Tales has been so successful. It's sad that NBC regularly allows words like b1tch, @ss, d@mn, and even the f-word now and then. BUT, God and His Holy Word are not allowed. How ludiscrous!
Big Idea seems to think otherwise. A statement on their website says,
"When we were presented with the opportunity to reach a mass television audience, we knew that certain religious references would not be allowed on a children's block under current TV network guidelines. And we recognized that we were not going to change the rules of network television overnight. In light of this, 'Can Big Idea continue to fulfill its mission of enhancing the spiritual and moral fabric of society through creative media?' became the question we had to answer. Can VeggieTales make a difference on Saturday morning? We think so."

1 comment:

Dr. Paul Irwin said...

November 9, 2006

Dear Editor of the New York Times:

Quite often good things happen, but seldom do they receive public recognition. This letter gives credit as credit is due.

Recently, the NBC television network used its internal employee decision-making apparatus to strip references to the Bible – and to God – from a beloved children’s show, Veggie Tales. As President of the American Bible Society, you can imagine how I became troubled and set about discerning how to respond.

Last month, I sent letters to GE’s (owner of NBC) Board of Directors protesting the decision and requesting a dialogue on why these decisions were made. I also directed our network of supporters to write NBC management protesting this decision. NBC has now begun to restore the deleted footage to Veggie Tales.

While I seldom believe in boycotts or condemning the network’s right to air certain programs, I could not accept censorship of the Bible either. Specifically, I could not accept censorship of a children’s program making available the Bible, while soap operas and a multitude of other shows created for evening entertainment portray characters whose behavior exemplifies little moral consideration and ignores such ethical parameters as laid out in the Ten Commandments!

I firmly believe the Bible to be foundational to the makeup of America. The character of our nation’s shared future depends on if and how we engage the Bible’s life-changing message.

NBC, the American Bible Society applauds your decision to let stand the mentioning of God and verses of the Bible in Veggie Tales. Soon, I hope that NBC will put words with their actions to begin repairing the harm incurred by every American who respects and appreciates the religious freedoms our Constitution affords, which includes the freedom to broadcast and hear the Bible.


Paul G. Irwin
American Bible Society