One of my favorite TV-related stops on the Web used to be the Parents Television Council’s “Worst Clips of the Week” gallery. Ever since 2001, the broadcast-decency watchdog group has been combing through the cesspool that is television for what it deems the single most objectionable scene of the week, then posting the result to its Web site for convenient public download, complete with a handy label identifying the offending material (“Gratuitous sexual innuendo”; “Necrophilia”; “Explicit scenes of patently offensive sexual and excretory functions.”) If you’re too lazy to watch TV but still like to keep up on your outrage, with a simple click of the mouse you can revisit South Park’s “Whore-off,” Without a Trace’s “Teen Orgy Party,” or the controversial “Dentyne Fire Ad,” in which a woman chews the stimulating gum as she introduces her boyfriend to her parents, leading to—go to your room, kids!—a spontaneous make-out session on the couch. In the spirit of good service journalism, the PTC has even put together a hall of fame, a “worst of the worst” library showcasing the most saliently degrading clips of the past three years.
But a recent visit to the site revealed that the weekly filth roundup, which used to appear in a prominent sidebar on the PTC Web site’s home page, has now been buried somewhere deep within the site—you have to know the page exists already, or enter “worst clips” into the search window, to get there. What’s more, the PTC’s loyal research team has been slacking off on the job—as far as I can see, there have been no new clips added to the archive since late March (and God knows there’s been plenty to choose from since then—anyone catch the doggy-style scene in last week’s episode of Rescue Me?). What gives, PTC? Did you shelve your most useful feature just because of a few accusations of hypocrisy? Or did the Worst Clips page, like the Catholic Inquisition’s Index of Forbidden Books, come to be used more as a how-to manual for debauched viewing than a guide to steering clear of it?
A call to a PTC spokeswoman wasn’t much help—all she would say is that the organization is currently redesigning its Web site and that, despite the recent slowdown in posts, as far as she knows, there is no plan to discontinue the feature. Please join me in encouraging the Parents Television Council to restore “The Worst Clips of the Week” to its former glory. How will we know what not to watch unless we watch it?