Viewer Discretion Advised

Will This Warning Increase Andy Rooney's Viewership?

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

You often see that warning on the screen before a television show: Viewer Discretion Advised. The suggestion is that children shouldn't watch it. What it does, of course, is alert the kids to be sure to watch.

We're trying to get a younger audience here at 60 Minutes, so I thought if we showed that warning "Viewer Discretion Advised," maybe more kids would tune in to watch me.

A lot of people hold the Ten Commandments as their standard of decency, but some of those commandments don't make much sense. I mean, my neighbor doesn't even have an ox. I live by four or five of the Ten Commandments. I don't steal, I don't lie very often — once in a while — and I never use dirty words. I say "damn" and "hell" occasionally, but nothing vulgar. No body function words.

I think it's wrong to use dirty stuff to attract an audience to anything. I don't mind some nudity, but I hate filth.

There's some dirty stuff on television, but less than there would be if we didn't have a federal law that says: "Whoever utters any obscene, indecent or profane language shall be fined or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

I don't know about "whoever," but I know they've never imprisoned anyone for 20 minutes, let alone two years, for saying something dirty on television. They have fined broadcasters millions of dollars over the years. CBS was fined half a million for the Janet Jackson bare-breast fiasco two years ago at the Super Bowl. I thought CBS got a bum rap. You couldn't really see anything. Cable television can do what it wants, of course.

The law also says it is a federal offense to broadcast obscene material any hour of the day or indecent or profane material outside certain late-night hours.

I'm a little fuzzy about the difference between obscene, indecent and profane, and I don't know why dirty stuff is any more acceptable late at night than during the day.

The fact of the matter is we all have to behave in a way that's better than what comes naturally to us.

Produced By Andy Rooney