Much re Workaholics (“Dorm Daze”)

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PANEL
CBSC Decision 15/16-0525
2016 CBSC 4
June 16, 2016
A. Noël (Chair), B. Abramson, K. Clout, E. Duffy-MacLean, L. Salvas

The Facts

Workaholics is an American comedy program that follows the lives of three recent college dropouts, named Adam, Blake and Ders. The three men are housemates and work together at a telemarketing company.  Their interests are partying, drinking, doing drugs, watching pornography and seeking out women.  Their pursuits frequently land them in various predicaments, which serve as the basis for the show’s comedic plots.

Much aired the episode entitled “Dorm Daze” on December 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm. As a single-feed specialty service based in Toronto (Eastern Time), this meant the show appeared at 7:00 pm in the Mountain time zone, where the complainant lives.

Much aired a 14+ icon for 15 seconds at the beginning of the broadcast as well as the following viewer advisory in audio and video formats at the beginning and coming out of every commercial break:

This program contains scenes of sexuality, coarse language and mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised.

In this episode, the three men are sent by their employer to a job fair at a college campus to recruit new employees. While Ders mans the company’s booth, Adam and Blake explore the campus.  Adam recognizes the surroundings from his favourite pornographic movies and goes off alone in search of the dorm room where he believes the filming takes place.  Blake auditions for a campus theatre production, but when he gets kicked out of the auditions, a young woman tricks him into participating in an amateur porn movie.

A viewer complained on December 25, 2015 about one particular scene in the episode that the viewer had encountered while scrolling through the dial. Ders’s job fair booth is located beside that of the United States Coast Guard.  Ders has been antagonizing four Coast Guard officers by making jokes about their lazy work ethic and their participation in homosexual activity.  When the officers come over to his booth to confront him, Ders asks “What are you going to do, give me a code red?”  The scene then switches to an aerial view of the four Coast Guard officers holding Ders stomach-down on the ground with his pants partway down to reveal his buttocks.  One officer who had been drinking out of a fast food cup pours the remainder of his beverage onto Ders’s buttocks.  The camera shifts to ground level where the viewer sees Ders’s strained face pleading “Don’t do this!  […] My butt hairs are all fizzy now!”  An officer then says “I think Officer Petty Tailwags is looking a little thirsty” and picks up a little dog who is with them and brings it closer to Ders’s behind.  The officer holds the dog to Ders’s behind and the dog licks it.  Ders cries out “That’s not good, that’s not good, that’s not good!” and then with a confused look on his face, “That’s not … bad.  […] O-o-okay.”  One of the Coast Guard officers then tears up Ders’s list of recruits and throws it on Ders’s head.

The viewer characterized the scene as “bestiality” and “animal cruelty” and was also concerned that the man being held down was obviously upset at what was being done to him. The complainant wrote that this “appeared to be an act of plain and simple perversion” and was particularly troubled by the fact that it aired during prime time when children are watching television.

Much responded to the complainant on January 22, 2016. It explained that Workaholics is a comedy and that the scene in question was a comedic act of revenge by the Coast Guard officers on Ders for disrespecting them.  Much pointed out that, although the scene could be construed as “crude”, the dog was not harmed in the scene and it did not contain any material that would make it inappropriate for telecast.  Much noted that it had rated the program 14+ and aired it at 9:00 pm in the province in which its signal originates.  It also emphasized that it is not a children’s channel.

The complainant wrote back to both the CBSC and Much on January 23, reiterating the concerns about the time at which this program aired in Alberta and the treatment of the dog. The complainant wrote again to the CBSC on February 2, arguing that no one had done their duty to take “the network to task for their offensive programming”.  (The full text of all correspondence can be found in Appendix B.)

In addition to the scene that concerned the complainant, the episode contained numerous other scenes involving discussions about sex, masturbation and porn movies. The language frequently includes euphemisms and vulgar slang in reference to sexual acts and body parts.  In addition, Adam re-creates sexual positions and there is a series of brief clips of people engaged in sexual activity as Adam tries to remember scenes from porn movies.  There are also scenes of a young woman and a male porn director convincing Blake to participate in their movie.  Blake eventually disrobes down to his boxers and distressedly rubs his crotch in an attempt to get aroused for the scene.  Adam barges in to “save” Blake before the filming goes any further.  The final scene shows a line-up of men outside the “porn dorm room” waiting to film a “Coast Guard gang bang”.  The sound of a woman moaning with sexual pleasure can be heard in the background.  (A detailed description and transcription of the episode can be found in Appendix A.)

The Decision

The English-Language Panel is charged with examining the complaint under the codes and guidelines administered by the CBSC, and did so with reference to the following provisions of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code and Code of Ethics:

CAB Violence Code, Article 3.0 – Scheduling

3.1          Programming

3.1.1       Programming which contains scenes of violence intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before the late evening viewing period, defined as 9 pm to 6 am.

[…]

(Note: To accommodate the reality of time zone differences, and Canadian distant signal importation, these guidelines shall be applied to the time zone in which the signal originates.)

CAB Violence Code, Article 4.0 – Classification

Ratings System for English- & Foreign-Language Broadcasters

14+ – Over 14 Years

Programming with this classification contains themes or content elements which might not be suitable for viewers under the age of 14. Parents are strongly cautioned to exercise discretion in permitting viewing by pre-teens and early teens without parent/guardian supervision, as programming with this classification could deal with mature themes and societal issues in a realistic fashion.

Violence Guidelines

Other Content Guidelines

18 + – Adults

Intended for viewers 18 years and older.

This classification applies to programming which could contain any or all of the following content elements which would make the program unsuitable for viewers under the age of 18.

Violence Guidelines

Other Content Guidelines

CAB Violence Code, Article 9.0 – Violence against Animals

9.1          Broadcasters shall not telecast programming which sanctions, promotes or glamorizes violence against animals.

CAB Code of Ethics, Clause 10 – Television Broadcasting

Scheduling

(a)           Programming which contains sexually explicit material or coarse or offensive language intended for adult audiences shall not be telecast before the late viewing period, defined as 9 pm to 6 am.  Broadcasters shall refer to the CAB Violence Code for provisions relating to the scheduling of programming containing depictions of violence.

[…]

(Note: To accommodate the reality of time zone differences, and Canadian distant signal importation, these guidelines shall be applied to the time zone in which the signal originates.)

The Panel Adjudicators read all of the correspondence and viewed a recording of the challenged broadcast. The Panel concludes that Much did not breach any of the aforementioned code provisions.

Representation of Animals

The complainant’s primary concern was the scene involving the dog licking the man’s behind. The complainant characterized it as “bestiality” and “animal cruelty”.  The Panel understands that some viewers would find the scene to be quite crude.  However, the Panel’s role is to address the program’s compliance with the applicable codes.  In this regard, the Panel notes past CBSC findings regarding treatment of animals that did not violate Article 9.0 of the CAB Violence Code.  For example, a program that showed a dog drinking beer was not considered to sanction, promote, or glamorize violence against animals.[1]  An art film that depicted different forms of bestiality was also found not to be in breach of that code provision.[2]

The Workaholics scene involving the dog was undeniably disgusting, but in the view of the Panel, must be examined in the context of the program’s overall humorous tone.  The Panel considers that the scene was intended to show just how juvenile and repulsive the Coast Guard officers could get in seeking revenge on Ders for his similarly immature insults towards them.  Although Ders is at first distraught at what the officers are doing to him, he quickly concludes “That’s not … bad.”  The gag then resurfaces towards the end of the episode when Ders suggests to the porn filmmakers that, if they want to “get weird”, they could use the dog in their film because it “can toss a salad like, it’s crazy good” (“toss a salad” is a slang euphemism for licking someone’s anus).  Adam and Blake ask Ders how he knows that and, a few moments later when Ders suggests they get a dog for their house, they outright ask him “That dog licked your butthole, didn’t it?”  That line ends the entire episode, all in keeping with the program’s adolescent comedic nature.

The Panel recognizes that violence against animals is a serious issue. Given the scene’s relevance to the plot and treatment of the matter, and noting that the dog was not physically injured, the Panel finds that the scene does not sanction, promote or glamorize violence against animals, and therefore there is no violation of Article 9.1 of the CAB Violence Code.

Scheduling Across Time Zones

The complainant viewed the episode at 7:00 pm and objected to this early timeslot. As explained above, Much aired the episode at 9:00 pm Eastern time in the province in which its signal originates, namely Ontario.  Because Much operates with only a single broadcast feed that goes out across the country simultaneously, it reached Alberta’s Mountain time zone at 7:00 pm.

Both the CAB Violence Code and CAB Code of Ethics include scheduling clauses that address time zone differences.  Usually, a program that contains material exclusively intended for adult audiences can only be shown between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am (the “watershed” period).  The parenthetical Note in each code, however, explains that the time will be assessed based on the time zone in which the signal originates.  This means that, as long as a broadcaster respects the 9:00 pm rule in its own time zone, it will not violate the codes.

That is the situation that has arisen here and Much, therefore, has breached neither Article 3 of the CAB Violence Code nor Clause 10 of the CAB Code of Ethics, having aired the program at 9:00 pm in the time zone in which its signal originates.

The CBSC has acknowledged that this “time zone exception” creates an unsatisfactory situation for viewers, most often those located west of Ontario. In one previous decision dealing with this issue, the CBSC expressed “considerable sympathy for the plight of the complainants” whose “request is to keep programming which is clearly post-Watershed in nature from appearing pre-Watershed in their home,” a request deemed by the CBSC to be “indisputably reasonable”.[3]

The CBSC has offered a few solutions to deal with this conundrum. First, it has encouraged single-feed broadcasters to be sensitive to the time zone conundrum when scheduling their programming.

Second, the CBSC has encouraged viewers to be aware of the informational tools, namely advisories and classification ratings, provided by broadcasters to assist them in making their viewing choices.[4]  Third, and more concretely, the CBSC has determined that broadcasters must provide viewer advisories coming out of commercial breaks into the second hour of broadcast, rather than only during the first hour as would ordinarily be required, when they know adult material will appear pre-watershed in some time zones.[5]  In this case, the program was not long enough for this requirement to apply.

Fourth, while not directly relevant to the current matter, the CBSC has clarified that the time zone exception does not apply to advertisements and promotional spots; ads and promos that contain material intended exclusively for adults must appear post-watershed in all time zones.[6]  The reason for this is that viewers do not benefit from the advance information provided by classification and advisories when viewing ads and promos.

All that having been explained, this Panel confirms that it considers the content of this Workaholics episode to constitute material intended exclusively for adults.  This episode did, therefore, require a post-9:00 pm time slot, which Much correctly assigned it.  Virtually every scene in the 30-minute broadcast contained, at the very least, strong sexual innuendo, if not more overt sexual references.  There was also a wealth of vulgar slang terms for sexual acts and body parts, as well as one unedited instance of the f-word.  Combined with the overall themes of the episode – pornographic films, masturbation, gang bangs, use of a dog to violate a man – these elements render the program clearly intended for adults.

Classification

Despite its conclusion that this broadcast contained material intended exclusively for adults, the Panel finds that the program’s 14+ classification was not necessarily incorrect. These findings are not inconsistent, because classification provides a different type of information to viewers than the scheduling of a program.  The classification rating indicates the level of content with respect to violence, sexuality and coarse language.  The 14+ category indicates that programs could “include strong or frequent use of profanity” as well as “scenes of nudity and/or sexual activity”.  The 18+ category requires “graphic language” and “explicit portrayals of sex and/or nudity”.

The Panel considers that the constant barrage of strong sexual innuendo and overtly sexual themes of this Workaholics episode move it extremely close to the 18+ category, but the absence of any actual explicit depictions of sexual activity barely keeps it on the 14+ side of the 14+/18+ divide.  Much’s decision to rate the episode 14+ was therefore acceptable under Article 4.0 of the CAB Violence Code.  The Panel also wishes to point out that Much respected the provisions of the codes relating to viewer advisories by providing detailed advisories throughout the broadcast alerting viewers to the “sexuality, coarse language and mature subject matter”.

Broadcaster Responsiveness

In all CBSC decisions, the Panels assess the broadcaster’s response to the complainant. The broadcaster need not agree with the complainant’s position, but it must respond in a courteous, thoughtful and thorough manner.  In this case, Much provided a reply to the complainant, explaining the program’s nature of comedy and specifically addressing the complainant’s concern about the dog scene.  The broadcaster fulfilled its obligations of responsiveness and nothing further is required in this regard in this instance.

This decision is a public document upon its release by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

Appendix A

 

Much aired an episode of Workaholics entitled “Dorm Daze” on December 25, 2015 at 9:00 pm Eastern Time.  In the episode, their employer sends the three men to a college campus job fair to recruit new workers for the telemarketing company.  In addition to the scene described by the complainant, the episode includes instances of coarse language, references to sex and drugs, and some sexual imagery.  The following is a description and transcription of the majority of the episode:

21:00:11-21:00:52

Blake & Ders are sitting on a couch in formal attire. They clink champagne glasses.

Blake: Hey.

Ders:  Hey.

Blake: Hollywood’s biggest night, huh?  What’d you put down for best foreign?

Ders:  You know me, man, just puttin’ down the Danish one.  Tryin’ to keep it Scandinavian, so …

Blake: Oh.  Man, I hope tonight tops last year because I really feel that it was just a bunch of people, like, I don’t know, sucking each other off on the red carpet.

Ders:  Yeah, it kinda was.

Blake: Yeah, it was, like, one big circle jerk, right?

Ders:  Yeah.

Blake: [calls into the kitchen] Oh, Adam, Adam, it’s starting, it’s starting!

Adam walks into the room from the kitchen carrying a tray.

Adam:            Who’s hungry?!

Blake & Ders:           Oh yeah!

Blake: All right.  That looks great.

Adam lifts cover off tray to reveal food that looks like two breasts and a penis.

Adam:            Tit-tay!

On their television set, an announcer says “Welcome to the AVN Awards Show where we honour the best in adult entertainment” and there is a corresponding title sequence of quick shots of naked women flaunting for the camera.

Adam:            Who do you guys have for best MMFTPATM?

Blake & Ders lean forward to look at the papers on which they have written down their guesses for the award winners

Ders:  Umm.

Blake: I have to look at my mark.

Ders:  Gianna.

Blake: Yep, and I got Chloë.

21:01:04-21:03:44

The three men are walking into their workspace.

Ders:  Adam, I can’t believe you got every category right.

Blake: You even guessed best dong-umentary.

Adam:            Yes, well, 12 Inches a Slave was a no-brainer.  But, I’ll admit it, having a pornographic memory doesn’t hurt.  I cannot forget a dick.  Like –

Ders:  Which is crazy, ʼcause you can’t remember anything else, right?

Adam:            Yeah.  No, I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast.  I can’t remember, like, my social security number.  Which is an issue sometimes.  But I remember, like, every frame of the porno that I cranked down to in the mirror last night.

Blake: Did you just say you cranked down in the mirror?

Adam:            You guys don’t crank down in the mirror?  Okay, I’ll teach you somethin’.  Okay, so you are the mirror [gestures towards Ders, whom Adam is facing].  This right here, the screen [gestures to his computer screen behind him].  That’s where all the porno’s happening.  So I put on a porno back here and I look in the mirror and it’s like I’m in the porno.  [Blake looks at him quizzically, then looks at Ders who is gesturing as he is trying to figure out the placement of screen & mirror that Adam is describing.]  It’s like a pop porno and then I’m looking at myself at the same time and going, like, “You’re having fun.  This is fun.  Look at you.”

Ders:  Sure.

Blake: Seems like a lot of work, but very cool.

Adam:            [shrugs]  It’s not.

Blake: I like to just squeeze it ʼtil it pops and move on, you know?

Adam:            It’s not, it’s not a lot, it’s not.

Ders:  It’s a little overwhelming for me, so if we could, uh, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to ask you [addressing Blake] about the giant bag you brought to work.  What’s up with that?

Blake: Hello, it’s my costume bag from my theatre days.

Ders:  Oh oh.

Blake: When we were watching the AVN Awards, it kinda got the ol’ actor juices a-flowin’.

Adam:            I had different juices flowing.  Semen.

Ders:  Me too.

Their female boss tells Ders she wants him to go to a college job fair to recruit 100 people interested in working at the telemarketing company.

Adam:            [excitedly] We’re going back to college, we’re going back to college!  [makes “humping” motion]

Ders tells Adam & Blake he does not want to take them with him. He asks other co-workers to go, but they do not want to.  Adam & Blake beg Ders to take them, promising they will not let him down, so Ders reluctantly agrees.

21:04:03-21:04:38

Ders, Blake & Adam are setting up their booth at the college job fair. Ders reveals that he has brought a karaoke machine and suggests that they sing songs to attract recruits.

Adam:            [takes the microphone from Blake & talks into it] Fuck this shit.  Very stupid, very dumb idea.

Adam & Blake say that, despite their promise, they are going to go off and goof around because Ders insulted them by suggesting they would not work hard.

Blake: You were a jerk and you blew us off and you said we weren’t going to help you, so now we’re not going to and we would’ve done really well too.  We would’ve, like, worked our balls off.

Blake & Adam go off to goof around while Ders works at the booth.

21:04:54-21:05:45

Blake & Adam are walking around the campus. Blake wants to toss a boomerang around.

Adam:            I’m getting, like, weird vibes, though.  It’s, like, full body déjà-vu.

Adam notices a tree and has a memory of two people kissing passionately in front of it.

Adam:            [grabs Blake’s arm] Oh! Dorm Daze!  This is the college campus where they shot 24 of my 36 favourite college pornos!  This is it!  This is the vibe, that’s why I was getting that vibe.

Blake: Oh, okay, okay.  That’s awesome, man.  Now, uh, hey, [affects Australian accent] go long, mate, I want to toss you the boomer.

Adam:            I’ve gotta find the dorm room where they shot the gang bang sequences.  Pay my respects.

Adam leaves Blake to “go find porno”.

21:06:03-21:06:48

Ders is singing karaoke to try to attract people to the booth. He is wearing a t-shirt with a military camouflage design.  The booth beside him is manned by four male US Coast Guard officers.

Coast Guard Officer #1:    Hey, Army Man.

Ders:  Yeah?

Coast Guard Officer #1:    You, uh, take requests?

Coast Guard Officer #2:    Because I, uh, request that you take that mic and shove it up your ass.

Officers #1 and #2 bump fists.

Ders:  Who are you guys?  Oh, US Coast Guard.  I get it, ʼcause you guys coast on the backs of the people who really guard our country.

A male college student laughs and stops to listen to Ders some more.

Ders:  Oh my god, did one of you guys just fart?  ʼCause it smells like salty dick.

More students gather around to laugh at Ders’s jokes. The Coast Guard officers appear annoyed.

Ders:  Ooh, I’m downwind.  Uh, you guys want to see my impression of the Navy?

Ders makes a booping noise and mimes looking through a periscope.

Ders:  And here’s my impression of the US Coast Guard.

He starts to mime pulling down a periscope, but then waves his arms with microphone in one hand, waggles his tongue and makes noise to imply fellatio. Students start to line up to sign Ders’s recruitment form.

Ders:  Just, uh, need your name, email, phone number and stool sample.  Just kidding, I’m not the Coast Guard.

21:09:25-21:11:02

Blake goes to the campus theatre school’s auditions for Shakespeare’s Hamlet and gets kicked out when he performs a scene from his own screenplay for a Crocodile Dundee sequel.  A young blonde woman follows Blake out.  We later learn her name is Crystal.  Crystal compliments Blake on his acting and invites him to come participate in a short film she and her friends are making.

21:11:03-21:12:49

Adam is roaming the dormitory hallways looking for the room in which he believes the porn movies were filmed. When he sees a room marked 18, he has a vision of a group of people filmed through a doorway.  Some are lying down, some are standing, in various states of undress, legs and arms entwined as they engage in sexual acts, accompanied by female moaning sounds.  The vision ends and Adam opens the door and walks into the room.  There is no one in the room, but it is filled with typical dorm room items, such as a dresser, phone, computer, posters on the walls, etc.  Adam makes his way around the room, touching the walls and furniture.  He repeatedly has visions of scenes from the porn movies, featuring images of women moaning.  He tries to figure out if it is indeed the correct room by placing himself in various positions to “re-enact” scenes.  At one point, he humps the floor and then vigorously shakes a chair as if he is having sex with it.  He takes a guitar a raises his leg over the neck as if to insert it in his anus.  He kneels on the bed as if there is a woman underneath him trying to figure out how a scene would have been filmed.

Adam:            [talking to himself] If the semen spray landed here, Buster would have to shoot from here.  And Eric was over there and he didn’t even bust.  Was there a second semen sprayer?  No, no, start from the beginning, Adam.

Adam has one foot up on the bed and a series of strings extending from his crotch to the walls to represent semen spray. Two students walk into the room.

male student:          Who the [beep] are you!?

Adam:            Is this where the porno was?

male student:          I don’t know what you’re talking about, man, just, just get outta here.

Adam:            You know what?  I believe you.  I don’t see porno in your eyes.  So I’m going to have a look around first.

Adam notices a female student walking down the hall carrying a book titled Female Sexuality.

Adam:            Female sex.  That’s code word for porn.

Adam runs out of the room to follow the young woman.

21:12:53-21:13:47

The four Coast Guard officers approach Ders’s booth. One of them is drinking from a fast food cup with a straw.

Ders:  The Coast Guard, what’s goin’ on?  Wait a second, if you guys are here, who’s doing nothing on the boat?  [laughs]  ʼCause you guys, I don’t know what you do.  What do you guys even do?  Do you have boats?

Coast Guard Officer #2:    Yeah, we get it.  Yeah, you’re a regular Gabriel Iglesias.

Ders:  I wouldn’t say that.  Fluffy’s very talented.

Coast Guard Officer #1:    You really shouldn’t make jokes about the military like that.

Ders:  Hey, what are you guys going to do, give me a code red?

Coast Guard Officer #1:    That’s actually not a bad idea.

There is an aerial view of the four Coast Guard officers holding Ders stomach-down on the ground with his pants partway down to reveal his buttocks. The officer with the drink pours it onto Ders’s buttocks.  The camera shifts to ground level.

Ders:  Come on, guys, please!  Don’t do this!  Oh, man!

Coast Guard Officer #2:    Nothing like the taste of Code Red on a hot day, am I right?!

Ders:  [close-up of his contorted face being held against ground]  My butt hairs are all fizzy now!

Coast Guard Officer #1:    I think Officer Petty Tailwags is looking a little thirsty.

He picks up a small dog who has been with them and brings it closer to Ders’s behind.

Ders:  What?  Who’s Officer Petty Tailwags?

Officer #1 holds the dog to Ders’s behind and the dogs licks it.

Ders:  That’s not good, that’s not good, that’s not good!  That’s not … bad.

Coast Guard Officer #1:    There we go.

Officer #1 wiggles his tongue to imitate the dog licking while he continues to hold Petty Tailwags to Ders’s behind.

Ders:  [looks confused]  O-o-okay.

Coast Guard Officer #2:    Normally we spend our shore leave [beep].  Not teaching manners to phone jockeys.

He tears up a piece of paper (presumably Ders’s recruiter list) and throws it on Ders’s head.

21:13:46-21:14:47

Adam follows the woman with the book into a lecture hall where a women’s studies class is taking place. The female professor is lecturing about patriarchy and women being portrayed as sex objects.

Adam sits down beside another female student and whispers to her:   Sex objects?  Is she talking about dildos or what?

Professor:     Is there a problem, young man?

Adam:            No.  I just saw this hot chick walking with a book that said “sex” and I figured she was leading me to the porno room or something.

All the female students turn to him in disgust.

Professor:     Young man, would you come down here to the front of the room?  And, and let us ask you some questions.

Adam:            Oh, hell yeah, bitch.  Cool.  All right.  This is fun.  [to a student he passes]  Damn girl, you got some sweater meats up there.

Adam walks down the steps of the lecture hall to sit in a chair at the front of the room.

Professor:     Fascinating.  Did you see how he wasn’t able to take more than just a few steps without talking about sex?

Adam crosses his arms and put two fingers up on each hand in a sort of smug hip-hop gesture.

Professor:     It’s really as if he has no control over his base desire.

Adam:            I didn’t know I was going to be in a room full of freaking hot young Mileys or else I probably would’ve worn my [affects aggressive voice] big dick jeans.  Ha ha!

He holds one leg out and gestures to his crotch holding his hand out to represent a large penis. Two young women in the front row exchange looks of disbelief.

21:17:34-21:18:05

Crystal leads Blake into a room that she says is their movie set. He is excited to think he will be acting in a real movie.  She introduces him to Landon, the director.

21:18:06-21:21:12

Adam is still sitting in the chair at the front of the women’s studies classroom.

Professor:     So tell me, Adam, what is it you like about porn?

Adam:            To begin with, everything.  Not to be, like, sentimental or cheesy, but I love how there’s soft cupping of the balls, the general way they just caress the shaft.  [imitates gagging as if performing fellatio]  All the gagging.  It’s just beautiful to me.

Professor:     Well, Adam, I have some bad news for you.  Those women are being exploited.

Adam:            [looks confused] Nope.

Professor:     No, it’s true.  Many of them are confused, young actresses hoping to be in a movie.

The scene switches to Blake preparing for what he thinks is a scene in a regular movie. Crystal is sitting beside him on a couch, lighting and then smoking a marijuana joint.  Landon hands Blake a bottle with an alcoholic beverage.

Landon:         Here’s some acting juice.

Blake: [accepts it happily]  Oh, are you kidding me?

Blake then takes the joint from Crystal.

The scene switches back to the women’s studies professor.

Professor:     They’re offered drugs and alcohol to lower their inhibitions.  They’re victims, Adam.

The scene switches back to Blake. He asks the director what exactly the scene is.

Landon:         Well, tell you what.  The scene is sit down right about here [pats end of bed] and then Crystal is gonna gobble your knob.  [he takes drag of cigarette]

Blake suggests doing a less explicit scene first, but Landon declines. The scene switches back to the professor.

Professor:     Sad victims of a dark industry that caters to perverted misogynists!

Adam:            Don’t talk about porno like that.  It’s, like, fun.  Everybody, they’re all having fun.

Blake is getting intoxicated.

Blake whispers nervously to Crystal:     They’re not going to show my actual, um, my penis, are they?

Professor:     They manipulate women emotionally to make them think they have no choice.

Crystal:          What’s the matter?  You don’t like sex?

Crystal grabs Blake’s crotch. Blake squirms nervously.

Blake: I do, I do.  I do, I do, I do, I do.  It’s just, um, you know what, I should go.  Uh, I hear my mom calling me.  I gotta go.  I’m so sorry.

Blake gets up off couch and grabs his hat to go.

Landon:         [angrily] Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Whoa, whoa, what the hell, man?  You drink my booze, you smoke my weed and now you want to [beep] leave?!  I don’t think so, man!

Blake: All right.  Stop yelling at me!  All right!  I just want to act.  I just want act, okay!  And I just, don’t be mad, all right?

Landon strokes Blake’s cheek and says “sh, sh, sh” to try to calm him down.

Professor:     They break these women down to get what they want.  That’s how they get them!

Landon:         You’re in the big time now.  You’re going to act.  You don’t want to disappoint all these people, do ya?  All these people here workin’ hard to make you look good.  Why don’t you take this [hands Blake a tube of lubricant], use that closet to grease up your hog and then get your [beep] together, we’ll make some movies.

Blake takes the lubricant reluctantly and nods, still clearly under the influence of the alcohol and marijuana. The scene switches back to the Professor and Adam.

Adam:            You’re scaring me.

Professor:     Good!  You should be scared.  What if your mother was in this situation?

Adam:            [upset & sensitive that his mother would be implicated] My mother doesn’t make porno.  She makes ham sandwiches.

Professor:     But porn stars are women, just like your mom.

Adam:            [on the verge of tears] So some porn stars are done from a long day on set and they go home and make a little boy ham sandwiches?

Professor:     Yes, Adam.  Porn stars make little boys ham sandwiches too.

Adam:            [gets up angrily and knocks chair over]  I’m going to find that porno room and I’m not going to be the one crankin’ down in the corner and potentially being a [beep]!  No!  I’m going to shut it down!  ʼCause no mommy should go home and make ham sandwiches for little boys with ejaculate on their fingers!  I’m doing it … for the mommies!

Adam runs out of the classroom.

21:21:12-21:22:01

Ders approaches the Coast Guard officers at their booth and tells them he wants to apologize. Then he tells another joke that insults the Coast Guard, grabs their list of recruits and runs away with all four officers in pursuit.  Ders climbs up a ladder to get away, but the Coast Guard officers find him and try to get him down.

21:22:02-21:22:17

Crystal is wearing a blank bra and panties and sitting on the bed in the “porn room”. Landon is crouched by his camera, which is facing the bed.  Blake comes out of the closet wearing only green patterned boxer shorts.  His torso and arms are covered in lubricant and he looks dejected.

Landon:         Let’s roll people.  Time to get that dick out, homey.

21:22:18-21:23:03

Adam barges into a dorm room where a young man and woman are lying on a bed, kissing. The professor and students from the women’s studies class look on from the doorway behind him.  The man is shirtless and the woman is wearing a black bra and black pants.  Adam pulls the man off the woman and covers her with a blanket.

Adam:            Stop!  Stop!  Is this a porno?  Cover up your bosoms!  You could be my mommy and my mommy doesn’t have her boobies flopped out.  They’re flopped in.

The young woman looks at Adam quizzically.

Young man:  What is this?  Who are all these people?

Adam:            Shh.

Adam sees the professor and students reflected in a full-length mirror in the room.

Adam:            The mirror.

Adam has a vision of himself masturbating in a bathroom with a laptop computer behind him. On the laptop screen is a woman, wearing a purple bra, lying down on a bed with another person holding her legs and gyrating against her as if they are having sex.

Adam:            I always crank down while looking into a mirror.

Professor:     Really?

Adam:            Yeah.  So I can see myself enjoying it.  It’s not weird.  A lot of dudes do it nowadays.  It’s, like, a millennial thing.  [The young man shakes his head “no”]  That doesn’t matter.  What matters is the image is reversed.  That means the porno’s not in room 18.  It’s in the reverse version of that.  Room … um.

Professor:     Eighty-one?

Adam:            Yeah, that’s it!  Let’s go!

21:23:05-21:23:15

Ders is on the ladder and the Coast Guard officers are trying to shake him down.

Ders:  I’m serious!  C’mon, man!  You already made a dog toss my salad.  Stop it!

21:23:24-21:23:48

Blake is standing in his boxers in front of Crystal who is sitting on the bed. Blake is rubbing/pinching his crotch to try to get aroused for the porn movie scene.

Landon:         Get that pecker out, buddy.

Blake: [face scrunched up as he tries to get an erection]  I’m working on it.

Landon:         Time to get it out, though.  Seriously.

Blake: [stops touching himself & steps away from Crystal]  Okay, I can’t.

Landon:         What?

Blake: I’m sorry.  It’s, like, it’s very small.  All right.  It’s like the, you know, the plastic thing at the end of a shoelace.

Landon:         Just take it out now, man!  I need it now.  [Blake grunts]  I need that penis out, Blake!

Blake scrunches up his face in distress.

21:25:13-21:27:54

In the porn room, Crystal is still sitting on the bed in her black bra and panties. Blake is standing, crying and very slowly pushing his boxers down because he does not want to participate.

Landon:         Quit crying and let me see that dong, bro!  Just do it, man!

Blake: [crying]  I am.

Landon:         Take your dick out now!

Adam barges in with the professor and female students behind him.

Adam:            Party’s over, porno boy!  [Blake makes a surprised, squealing noise]  Blake.  You’re the one who’s doing the porno?  New Adam is mad at you for doing this porno and old Adam is frickin’ pissed you didn’t invite him, so now you have two mad Adams to answer to!

Blake: Man, I’m, like –

Adam:            Two mad Adams!

Blake: I’m sorry, all right.

Adam:            Madams!

Blake: I’m mad at myself too.

Blake and Adam hear Ders outside the window. Ders is on the window ledge after having jumped off the ladder to escape the Coast Guard officers.  Adam and Blake pull Ders into the room through the window.

Ders:  What is going on in here?

Blake: He gave me a bunch of beer and, like, she gave me some weed and then they’re telling me to show my little henderson.  I’m, like, dude, I don’t want to.

Adam takes a blanket off the bed and covers Blake up.

Adam:            That’s what they do, that’s what they do.

Landon stares at Adam and shrugs.

Adam:Cover up your bosoms because I’m about to save you and this poor, sweet innocent girl, Crystal, from her evil oppressor, Landon, who I actually appreciate his films!

Adam starts to approach Landon in anger, but Crystal grabs Adam’s arm.

Crystal:          No, no, no.  Don’t do that.  Don’t.

Adam:            You don’t even know what you’re doing ʼcause he washed your brain.

Crystal:          I, I’m not brainwashed.  You know I’m a producer on this.  I own 40 percent of the company.  Plus I love to squirt on film.  It’s kind of my thing.

Adam:            So, you’re telling me that some girls do like doing pornog?

Crystal:          Oh yeah.

Professor:     That’s right, Adam.  No man has a right to tell a woman what to do with her body.  Even if she’s being sexually exploited.

Adam:            I knew you were an idiot [points at Professor].  Hell, yeah.  Cool.  [to Crystal] I’m a big fan.

The Coast Guard officers barge in and demand that Ders give them back their list.

Coast Guard Officer #2:    We’ve been running all over campus.  We should be chasing chicks, not dudes.

Blake: Hey, hold up.  You want to be chasing chicks?  What, you guys tryin’ to get your bone on or something?

Coast Guard Officer #1:    Oh yeah.

Coast Guard Officer #2:    Yeah.

Blake: Cool.  Oh well, what if, uh, [to Landon] what if these bros get in your little movie?

Landon:         That’s, uh, that’s a good idea.  Maybe do kind of a Coast Guard gang bang kinda thing.

Ders:  Yeah, yeah, yeah!  And if you guys want to get crazy, get weird, they’ve got this little French bulldog that you know can toss a salad like, —

Blake: Sure.

Ders:  It’s, it’s crazy good.

Adam:            How do you know that?

Blake looks at Ders in disgust.

Ders:  Could, it could toss a salad.  You know it could, you know it could.

The scene cuts to a line-up of young men outside the “porn dorm room”. Some of them are wearing Coast Guard uniforms, some are shirtless.  The sound of a woman moaning with sexual pleasure can be heard in the background.  Ders, Blake and Adam go along the line-up getting signatures while they discuss how they will likely be successful in getting 100 recruits and that they should stop being mad at each other.

Ders:  Also, oh, I was thinking, we should, um, we should get, like, a dog for the house.  For, like, security and stuff, like not.  To, like, play with.

Adam:            That dog licked your butthole, didn’t it?

Appendix B

 

The Complaint

The CBSC received the following complaint on December 25, 2015:

On Wed, Dec 23, 2015, at approx 7:00 pm, I was scrolling through my TV ‘favorites’ and I came across the most disgusting programming content being aired on Much TV.

It depicted a group of men/boys holding down a man while allowing a bulldog to perform what I consider an act of bestiality. I don’t care whether the act was actually between dog and man, or whether the camera angles were such that the act was not actually taking place; the point was that it left me with the impression that it actually was an act of bestiality.

I have several complaints regarding this:

1) the man be[ing] held down was obviously upset, practically screaming that he didn’t like what was happening to him and trying to get up/away;

2) the men holding him down were laughing hysterically and appeared to be straining to keep/force the man to be held down (face to the floor, naked hind-side in the air);

3) it appeared the dog was being forced into the act/s, and although eventually became a willing participant, it can be considered nothing less that animal cruelty;

4) for whatever reason this was being done, it appeared to be an act of plain and simple perversion, probably to the level of pornography; and

5) it was aired during prime time (during the Christmas holiday season no less – when lots of people, especially children, are watching TV!!)

I immediately changed the channel and removed this channel from my TV favorites, but I am still upset about it two days later. Upset enough that [I] feel this form of TV programming needs to be reported.

I trust you will react and investigate accordingly.

Thank you.

The CBSC asked the complainant to identify his/her time zone. The complainant informed the CBSC on January 8, 2016 that he/she resides in Edmonton, Alberta.

Broadcaster Response

Much responded to the complainant on January 22, 2016:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has forwarded to us a copy of your electronic correspondence dated December 25th, 2015, regarding the series “Workaholics” which aired on Much on December 23rd, 2015, at 9pm ET (7pm MT), for our attention and response.

Before we address your specific concern, it should be noted that in addition to our own programming policies, Much producers, programmers, editors and on-air presenters follow the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics, Equitable Portrayal Code for Radio and Television Programming, and Violence Code (collectively, the “CAB Codes”) in accordance with our broadcast licence conditions. (If you would like to view the CAB Codes, you may do so at www.cbsc.ca)

Workaholics” is a comedy series that follows Blake, Adam and Ders, three friends who work together as telemarketers from 9 to 5, live together from 5 to 9 and party together 24/7.  Whether they’re at their house in Rancho Cucamonga or getting ready to rage at a Renaissance Faire, the guys find trouble wherever they go.  In the episode mentioned in your letter, the guys attend a college job fair on business where Ders feuds with Coast Guard officers.

We reviewed the scene noted in your complaint where Ders is recruiting new staff at the fair when a group of Coast Guard officers walk past his booth. Ders instigates them by asking:  “if you guys are here, who’s doing nothing on the boat?” suggesting that the officers do very little while on duty.  They do not find his joke amusing and the ribbing continues with Ders asking “what are you gonna do, give me a code red?”  “Code red” is slang for when a red slurpee is poured into someone’s pants or on their behind.  Liking that idea, the officers hold him down and proceed to pour a red drink over his bare behind after which time they hold a small dog named Officer Petty Tailwags against him to lick the soda off Ders’ backside.

Further to this, you express concern about the content of the scene described above as an act of “bestiality”. The entire act is one of revenge but comedic in nature by the officers on Ders for disrespecting the military and is their attempt at “teaching [him] manners”.  Enlisting their troop dog, Officer Petty Tailwags into the act is not, in our opinion, animal cruelty since he was not harmed or hurt in this scene.  While the episode does contain a scene which may be construed as crude it is part of its sense of humour and we do not believe it contains any explicit or adult-only material that would make it inappropriate for telecast.

We assigned an AGVOT (Action Group on Violence in Television) 14+ classification code to the series, which allows for “mature themes,” “strong or frequent use of profanity” and programming that “might contain scenes of nudity and/or sexual activity within the context of narrative or theme.” Under this classification code, “parents are strongly cautioned to exercise discretion in permitting viewing by pre-teens and early teens” as programming with this classification code “might not be suitable for viewers under the age of 14.”  We also air the episode with a viewer advisory that states:  “The following contains scenes of sexuality, coarse language and mature subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised”.

In addition, the CAB Codes require that material intended for an adult audience not be telecast before 9 pm, which is considered the watershed hour for adult programming. In accordance with these codes, we aired this episode at 9 pm in the province from which our signal originates, and accompanied it with an appropriate rating and advisory.

As broadcasters, we have found both the AGVOT rating system and viewer advisories to be very effective tools for concerned viewers such as yourself to provide guidance in your programming decisions. (For more information about the AGVOT classification system, please visit www.cbsc.ca/english/agvot/index.php.)

While the comedy featured in “Workaholics” may not always seem admirable, their opinions and actions are not presented as being ideal.  In consideration of this fact, we carefully consider when and how we broadcast the content and designate it with an appropriate viewer advisory.  While we understand the program may not appeal to everyone’s tastes, as it was accompanied by the appropriate advisory and rating, we think it is suitable for air and believe this decision is in full accordance with the CAB Codes.  Although the special may be considered in poor taste to some, we do not believe it is problematic vis-à-vis the CAB Codes.

As you mention children in your email, we would like to mention that Much is not a children’s station and our programming should not be considered appropriate viewing for children, particularly under the age of 12. Our primary audience is an adult one – most of our viewers fall between the ages of 18-49.

Much is a member in good standing of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and adheres to the Council’s guidelines.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us and I hope this response has been helpful.

Additional Correspondence

The complainant sent an additional letter to both Much and the CBSC on January 23, indicating his/her dissatisfaction with the broadcaster’s response:

Thank you for the response. It is, however, not acceptable.

All the response did for me was simply reaffirm the reason why I do not watch stations, or programs, that cater to the lowest form of humanity. Any network that airs this form of depravity as so-called “comedy” needs a serious reality check.  Justifying the actions of the perpetrators of this form of offensive programming by saying that it’s aired on an “adult” network after 9:00 pm is nonsense.  It may have been 9:00 pm where it originated, but it was shortly after 7:00 pm when it was shown in my region.  During the Christmas holidays, no less.  As far as explaining and/or justifying the content – there is nothing you can say that justifies it, in my opinion.

And no animal cruelty? I hope someone takes your family pet and treats it in the same manner as those questionable young men did with that poor dog; then we’ll see how you, and maybe your children, feel about it.

It is so sad that this is acceptable to Bell Media, and it really makes me question those that are in charge of programming in that organization.

But even more offensive to me is that the CRTC reneged on their responsibility in this matter to allow the network to “police” itself. Of course the network feels justified in allowing the programming – they have invested time and financial resources in doing so.  What else would we expect?

Regardless, with all this said, I do not expect anything positive to come out of my complaint, so Bell Media can, and will, continue to air programs that are of what I consider of the lowest moral code. What I will be doing is commenting on this program and the response from the CTRA [sic] and Bell Media to anyone who will listen.

The CBSC requested clarification from the complainant as to whether he/she wanted the CBSC to proceed with its process. The complainant replied with the following on February 2:

My answer to your question is, I don’t know.

I saw a portion of a program I found extremely offensive so I went to http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/g8.htm and lodged a complaint.

Naively, I guess, I thought that once I did my due diligence to participate in the process of bringing my complaint/concern forward that those who work in the department that is advertised on-line as the place to make such complaints that that same department would appropriately deal with the complaint.

This has not happened, however, and it appears from this response from you, as well as the fact that all that was done was to make it possible for the network to justify their programming, that no further action to call the network to task for their offensive programming. They are going to carry on, carrying on, with no standard.

I did my duty. If nobody else is going to do theirs, so be it.

The CBSC considered that the complainant was clearly dissatisfied and felt that something should be done in this matter, so it accepted to move this complaint forward in its process.

[1] CHCH-TV (E!) re E!’s Wildest Spring Break Moments (CBSC Decision 08/09-1097 & -1743, April 1, 2010)

[2] Showcase re the movie Caniche (CBSC Decision 01/02-0032, May 3, 2002)

[3] Bravo! re the documentary film Give Me Your Soul (CBSC Decision 00/01-1021, January 16, 2002); see also WTN re Sunday Night Sex Show (CBSC Decision 99/00-0672, January 31, 2001); History Television re an episode of the series Sexual Century (CBSC Decision 02/03-1495, January 30, 2004); OUTtv re the film L.I.E. (CBSC Decision 09/10-1703, January 7, 2011); and TV5 re Le sexe autour du monde (“Japan”) (CBSC Decision 11/12-1648, October 24, 2012)

[4] WTN re Sunday Night Sex Show (CBSC Decision 99/00-0672, January 31, 2001); Bravo! re the documentary film Give Me Your Soul (CBSC Decision 00/01-1021, January 16, 2002); History Television re an episode of the series Sexual Century (CBSC Decision 02/03-1495, January 30, 2004)

[5] History Television re the documentary film Argentina’s Dirty War (CBSC Decision 00/01-0944, May 3, 2002)

[6] Space: TheImaginationStation re Drive-In Classics Promo (CBSC Decision 01/02-0699, September 13, 2002)