LIFE IN THE POP LANE
By Rene Graham, Globe Staff
It's the season for Time editors to mull possible candidates for its
2004 Person of the Year. According to the magazine's criteria, the
final selection will be "the person or persons who most affected the
news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important
about the year, for better or worse."
To that end, among those being considered are filmmakers Michael
Moore and Mel Gibson, as well as White House adviser Karl Rove, who
has been largely credited as the mastermind behind President Bush's
Interesting choices all, but here's an even better suggestion --
Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
From driving Howard Stern to announce a 2006 move to satellite radio
to making ABC affiliates so skittish about airing a film with graphic
violence and profanity that more than a third canceled a Veterans Day
airing of "Saving Private Ryan," no individual this year has had a
greater effect on our cultural lives -- for good or ill, for better
or worse -- than Powell.
He was again in the news last week for criticizing ABC's ill-advised
opening for "Monday Night Football," featuring a towel-clad
Nicollette Sheridan, of "Desperate Housewives," seducing Terrell
Owens of the Philadelphia Eagles. The FCC is considering opening an
investigation that could result in a fine against ABC.
Created in 1934, the FCC, according to its website, is "charged with
regulating interstate and international communications by radio,
television, wire, satellite and cable." Yet as this nation continues
its unnerving lurch toward conservative sanctimony, Powell, nominated
to the FCC in 1997 by President Clinton and designated chairman by
President Bush in 2001, has positioned himself as our country's top
cop for good taste and cultural propriety.