August 17, 2008

A porn star is a person in your neighborhood

Jenny McCarthy, who became famous by posing naked for pictures so that men could masturbate to them, made a guest appearance on Sesame Street Friday and the event hardly raised an eyebrow. Of course it's been years since McCarthy posed nude for anything and she is now an author of bestselling parenting books and an advocate for children with autism. Nevertheless, she wasn't asked on Sesame Street because she is an author. She was asked on Sesame Street because she is famous, and the reason she is famous is porn.

PBS should probably be commended for not simply blackballing McCarthy because of decisions she made in the past, especially decisions toddlers would have no way of knowing and couldn't care less about.

Except that wasn't their stated policy two years ago when they fired Melanie Martinez.

Melanie Martinez was the host of the Good Night Show, a joint production of PBS and Sesame Workshop that appears on the PBS Sprout channel. She was fired in 2006 when the network discovered that, years before she was hired by PBS, Martinez had appeared in two :30 parodies of abstinence PSA's. In one, she promotes the virtues of anal sex. In the other she decides to put off sex with boys when her mother gives her a vibrator. She is fully clothed and the dialogue includes no profanity (unless you consider the phrase "anal sex" profane).

At the time PBS president (now PBS CEO) Paula Kerger backed the decision claiming that Martinez was not "representative of PBS and Sesame and kids entertainment."


It is a strange world in which Melanie Martinez lives, one where she is publicly fired and shamed for appearing in two obscure low budget films with a total sixty seconds of running time, and then has to watch while one of the superstars of soft-core pornography, a person who has appeared in studio features with far more offensive material (and viewed by many more millions of people) than anything ever done by Martinez, is welcomed on PBS's flagship kids show with a fanfare of press releases and publicity stills.

It's so absurd, in fact that it raises the question once again that perhaps Martinez was fired not because of the sexual content of those videos, but rather the political content. Her public humiliation might have been collateral damage caused by PBS and Sprout executives trying to curry favor with conservative lawmakers who keep pulling the purse strings at public television tighter and tighter.

Perhaps the a-word that did in Melanie Martinez really wasn't "anal," but "anti-abstinence."

Posted by Kevin Guilfoile


Shouldn't there be a link for that, um, posing naked for pictures thing?

I think "Jenny McCarthy" + naked is the example they use in the Intro to Google class at the community center.

This calls out for another No-Prize caption contest!

... or perhaps the last anti-caption winner is all that's needed:

"Well, you know the old saying: 'You masturbate into it, you bought it.'"
—Mr. Sad Head

Today's letter is V, for vaccine. Remember, vaccines make you retarded, and no one likes a retard!

(seriously, shouldn't the fact that Jenny is doing her best to make sure more kids die before adulthood preclude her from appearing on sesame street?)

I concur with David F.

No serious discussion of this matter can be advanced without a through examination of the aforementioned photos of Ms. McCarthy. Mr. Guilfoile's failure to include this crucial evidence undermines both the credibility and integrity of what would otherwise be a mildly interesting guest post.

(I mean not even a fucking link? That's just lazy.)

No, no, no, you've got it all wrong, Tucker Carlson said she was fired because the videos weren't funny, not because Conservatives were trying to bully PBS into non-existence.

I agree that Guilfole misses the most offensive thing about Jenny McCarthy. It's one thing to be an advocate for autism; it's another thing to be an advocate for perhaps the most irresponsible and deadliest conspiracy theory in circulation today.

As for the other thing, the solution to having PBS be independent of irrational political whims is to not take federal money. In a world with 300+ channels, there's no need for the government to subsidize a particular one.

Looking at that picture of Jenny makes me wonder if one guy is working both puppets...

There are a startling number of kids in wheelchairs on Sesame Street. Either they need a stop sign or someone isn't getting their shots.

How could she be blackballed when Elmo is so obviously red?

Oh, come on. Sesame Street has had lots of guest appearances by folks with "political content" in their material or in their personal history. Click "kejo" in the "Posted by" byline to see the list, which includes Margaret Cho, Ralph Nader, Rosie O'Donnell, Susan Sarandon. I personally, would have drawn the line at "Howie Mandel, demonstrating 'ticklish'" and "Matt Lauer, explaining what he can do with a newspaper," though. Some practices are just not suitable for viewers of any age.

Sesame Street has had lots of guest appearances by folks with "political content" in their material or in their personal history.

I don't think the implication is that PBS has a ban on anyone with a controversial or liberal political stance. The speculation (and it is only that) is that once these videos became public, executives at PBS felt pressured to take drastic action because conservative lawmakers already perceive PBS as pushing a liberal agenda. And it was easier to blame the (relatively tame) sexual content of the videos than the political content.

(Also:) The actual hypocrisy seems to have been in the way they dismissed Martinez with a strawman about not letting someone even tangentially associated with sex near our kids, but then embraced Jenny McCarthy who built her career on porn.

Since when is posing naked considered porn? Anyone who considers Playboy to be pornography hasn't ever read Playboy.

Anyone who considers Playboy to be pornography hasn't ever read Playboy.

Welcome to readers from http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&q="jenny_mccarthy"%20"anal_sex"%20"mother_gives_her_a_vibrator"&btnG=Search

Anti-caption: And this is what a Jew looks like!

Melanie Martinez's abstinence parodies are hilarious. Comic genius. She's wasted on children's television anyway. Girl needs a smarter agent.

The only actual obscenity here is that such a TV channel as "Sprout" exists.

Thanks for commenting on the irony, Kevin!
I have an ironic story about the time Jimmy Kimmel used a clip of "Melanie" from The Good Night Show on Unnecessary Censorship. My character said "You're really good at f*bleep*ing!" An email went around the network about how "we had arrived" and how I was truly "a part of pop culture, now."
Good times. Good times.

J.D.: I think the spoofs are pretty funny, too. Someone proposed I dust off the costume and do some Alaskan outreach.

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