Friday, Media Research Center Founder Brent Bozell mocked Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter for his claim that a series of ultra-violent scenes in the show’s September 10 premiere weren’t done for the shock value. Sunday, Sutter responded with an open letter to Bozell that ended with, “You’re a pathetic f*cking douchebag, and I bet your own kids f*cking hate you.”
It is important to point out, however, that Sutter started this fight with a podcast that ripped Bozell’s Parents Television Council (PTC):
“I would imagine these are not evil people,” Sutter said with what appears to be great charity. “But they are just not very intuitive or intelligent individuals. It’s such a small and simple view of process. The fact that people want to be monitoring what my children watch is terrifying. There is no awareness of what is the bigger objective of that episode is, the bigger point of the narrative.”
What Sutter claims he “didn’t do … for shock” was to pack a school shooting, two rapes, and a man drowning in a tub of urine into a single hour. Bozell’s larger point, though, is that while Hollywood sides with America’s left-wing gun-grabbers, in their own backyard Hollywood constantly profits from screen violence.
Which is objectively true.
What is unfortunate is that Sutter chose to throw fury instead of explaining what his real issues are with the PTC. Sutter would have you believe that criticism equals censorship. Sutter also ignores the fact that his own network, FX, actually does censor him. Yes, as a cable network, FX can push the sex, language, and violence further than a broadcast network, but Sutter is still “censored.” For example, you don’t hear the f-word on Sons, and I doubt that is due to Sutter’s creative choice.
To use Sutter’s own language, the company he is making millions from is deciding what his children can and cannot see. The PTC doesn’t censor; it is merely part of an important debate about what kind of content should be pumped into millions of homes.
As a big, big fan of Sons of Anarchy, I can testify to the fact that Bozell is correct that the show has no moral center. You get the sense Sutter seems to like his anti-heroes, and that as their creator, he does not want to judge them too harshly. While Sons most certainly deserves its place in the Golden Age of Television, unlike Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, and The Shield, there is no overarching theme in Sons that says, “These characters are evil and we are exploring that evil.”
That might change before the series ends, but as of now the show is pure pulp — which is not a criticism.
In his letter to Bozell, Sutter describes himself as a liberal, but the show is pure nihilism. The morality of the show is all contained within the idealized version of what an outlaw motorcycle club can be –which isn’t very moral at all.
The PTC criticizing that is not censorship, and it is anti-science for Sutter to claim it is.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC