The proof that shock sells is in Bumfights. Four men are responsible for the controversial video series. Two of them are film students. One of those film students is from UCLA. Ironically, these men and their videos are now famous, primarily through the publicity provided by people who have strived to silence them. These efforts were not only self-defeating but unnecessary.
Look at Ty Beeson’s 2006 appearance on the Dr. Phil show. This show should be studied in communications classes. First, Dr. Phil introduces his guest as the man you must warn your children about. After he gives the parental warning, he shows the audience clips from the Bumfights video. At just the right moment, he cuts the tape and he performs his rehearsed display of indignance.
Dr. Phil has seen this video before but his goal is to make his own feelings accessible to his viewers, who are just now seeing the video for the first time. He uses his therapist voice to order his guest off the stage and once his guest is gone, the doctor makes an appeal to the audience and their sense of dignity.
His message is to his audience is thus: I am a guiding light for intelligent and moral people. In contrast to me is Ty. He is a role model for fools. If you are intelligent, you will listen to me. If you are a fool, you will buy Ty’s video.
Dr. Phil might act degusted but his intent was never to silence the Bumfights videos. His goal was to use Ty as a boogieman by which to make himself look good. Despite criticism from bloggers, it is fair to say that Dr. Phil succeeded.
Talk show hosts such as Dr. Phil go inadvertently inspire the Cosmeticians to write their congressmen in hopes that the government might step in and override The First Amendment and apply prior restraint in the name of obscenity. These motions have enjoyed minimal success.
This objection to obscenity has been most successful on a capitalistic rather than legal level. Merchants reserve the right not to carry a product for any reason. Most traditional and online stores have opted not to carry Bumfights.
Other enemies of Bumfights have sought to silence the videos on basis of Bad Tendency. Several incidents of violence targeted at the homeless have been vaguely connected back to the entertainment videos. These motions have enjoyed less success than the former.
The most effective motions against the makers of the Bumfights videos have not been related to The First Amendment at all. Rather, legal action has been taken against the creators for staging the illegal fights. In 2004, the city of
Freedom of speech and capitalism go hand in hand. In many ways, they keep each other in check. When freedom of speech comes into question, as in the Bumfights issue, capitalistic principals are there to do what government cannot and should not do. That is, to shut down offensive speech by making it unprofitable.
Most importantly, the two depend on each other to co-exist. The free flow of ideas, no difference how absurd or offensive, is closely tied to the free markets. To silence any speech, even Bumfights, would be to make silent the life force that makes