AOH :: CTHULHU.TXT|
Interesting little file about what the BS&P (Broadcast Standards and Practices)
#: 62112 S6/Animation
Sb: #62050-#Broadcast Standards
Fm: J. Michael Straczynski 71016,1644
To: Doug Pratt, Sysop 76703,3041
What happened was this: When we were doing the initial batch of 78
episodes for THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS (henceforth TRGBs), which included 65
syndicated episodes, one of those syndicated episodes was Michael Reaves' "The
Collect Call of Cthulhu." It was a lovely Lovecraft pastiche, thick with
in-jokes. We went to Arkham, saw shoggoths, there was a reading of the
Necronomicon and an attack on Coney Island by Cthulhu as he rose from the
watery depths. Wonderful stuff. Fans loved it. Never got a single note or
call or letter of complaint.
Now, fast forward a few years. It occurs to me that it might be nice to
write a follow-up episode to that story, also with the Necronomicon and
Cthulhu and that whole gang, this time set in Russia. (Title: "Russian
About.") I figured that though this was for ABC, not syndication, there
shouldn't be a problem since a) nobody minded the first one, and b) after all,
the whole Cthulhu mythos is a fictional creation.
I did the script, then one day arrived the notes from Broadcast Standards
and Practices (BS&P) which said that I couldn't use either Cthulhu or the
Necronomicon since these were both "established occult and cult lore." Now,
hold the bus, says I. They're FICTIONAL CREATIONS. Not real occult figures.
But BS&P was adamant. They'd "researched it," they said, and they knew that I
was trying to get some occult stuff in here, that the book was real, that it
was written by some Arab guy, that it was the whole foundation for some
Naturally, being something of a Lovecraft scholar, I challenged them on
this and said that they should back it up. They said they'd contact the UCLA
Folklore Division people, and get a reading. Days pass. BS&P calls back to
say that yes, the folklore people confirmed their story. I then backtracked
and found out that the folklore specialists had NEVER said such a thing, that
BS&P had called, but were already convinced and didn't really want to hear
anything. BS&P was lying. I caught them at it, but before we could pursue
it, BS&P got wind of it, and went to the top brass at ABC to say that this was
all cult/satanic lore, and that some smartass writer was trying to sneak it on
the air to corrupt kids. ABC Brass, being frightened of annoying the Fundies,
issued a mandate that we couldn't use the words Cthulhu or Necronomicon. So I
figured, screw 'em. I called the Big C one of the Old Ones (knowing that
Lovecraft scholars will figure it out), and found an old reference to the
Necronomicon as "the nameless book," which I then used in the script.
So I figured I was more or less okay. Now, as with the first episode,
this included some inside references. At one point, someone asks how one of
the characters knows so much about the Old Ones, and did he actually read the
Nameless Book? "No," the character says, "but writers like H. P. Lovecraft
did, and used it in their stories, and THOSE I read."
Then comes a note from BS&P....
The note said that since Cthulhu is occult lore (which it isn't), and
since the Necronomicon is occult lore (which it also isn't), and since that
means that there is a direct connection between occult lore/satanic practices
and H. P. Lovecraft, THAT WE COULD NOT USE HIS NAME IN THE EPISODE.
At that point, I went ballistic. To say that we can't even utter a
writer's NAME because of a fraudulent connection to some myth is something
you'd expect from the Soviet Union. I threatened to pull the script and walk
off the gig. At that point, even my producers (who produced the GB's movies)
who at first thought it wasn't worth the hassle, got into it and were
outraged, threatening to take this all to the LA TIMES if necessary.
Finally, they backed off, and we won that one. But it shows you just how
far fear can push some people, and how idiotic and lying some of the standards
are that are being imposed on the creators of animated series.
The entire AOH site is optimized to look best in Firefox® 3 on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986- AOH
We do not send spam. If you have received spam bearing an artofhacking.com email address, please forward it with full headers to email@example.com.