In defense of MILF Island
I still think it’s pure freakin’ genius that you can buy this t-shirt through NBC’s Web site. (If you don’t feel like clicking, it’s a MILF Island shirt.) And I’m still waiting for Ben Silverman to greenlight the show and then force workaholic Tina Fey to write it.
However, since I posted this I’ve had a couple of conversations with editors who brought up one major point: Is this something a major network should be doing? (One editor also wondered if the shirts would be available in children’s sizes, but apparently small is as small as they go.)
In case you aren’t pop-culture literate, MILF stands for Mothers I’d Like to F**K. The phrase was introduced in the movie "American Pie," when the movie’s gang of immature teenage boys was lusting after Stifler’s mom (the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge) during a drunken beer bash. It wasn’t long before I heard immature boys of all ages using the phrase and thus it became part of the lexicon.
If you saw the show this is obvious, but what Tina Fey was mocking in that episode of 30 Rock was ridiculous and exploitative reality shows that really have no moral or artistic value but get ratings and thus are celebrated by networks. I could post a long list of real-life examples here but I’m sure you can think of many of your own. She used MILF Island as the most ridiculous of all such examples, which is what made it hilarious.
At least to me. Come to pass, some people are offended by the phrase MILF, just like some people are offended by a brief flash of Janet Jackson’s breast or some cast member’s butt on NYPD Blue those many years ago or the uttering of the F word on Big Brother 5. So much to be offended about, so little time.
30 Rock airs at 9:30 pm on the coasts, 8:30 pm in the so-called flyover states, so it’s sort of on the cusp of when kids can watch it. Beyond that, I’m sure there are plenty of people who just find the whole concept behind MILF unfunny and offensive. I am clearly not in that demographic (I’m more in the immature, Peter Pan demo) so that didn’t really occur to me.
But the question posed was "is this really the sort of thing a network ought to be doing?" and that’s where I get resistant. Constantly filing indecency complaints against the networks over things like language, nudity and sex actually offends me far more than any of the content in question. We have a First Amendment in this country, and we have remote controls. We have parental guides and channel blockers. There is absolutely no reason why someone who might be offended by content has to watch it.
More than I want the airwaves to be squeaky clean, I want to preserve choice. Is MILF Island in the best taste? No (and intentionally so), but neither is Temptation Island or Moment of Truth or Flavor of Love or any one of innumerable reality shows that I find mind-numbing but others apparently enjoy. NBC’s clearly not making any one watch 30 Rock (check the ratings for proof), but I’m so glad I have the option.