All Shane Belwether wants is to watch TV in peace. For now, it’s not to be.
“TV warnings address so many horrible things,” he said. “You always see ‘This program contains violence, assault, nudity, coarse language.’ But what about my biggest fear? What if I see lizards having sex?”
Belwether fought back tears.
“Sure, I watch courtroom dramas, but you never know.”
The TV Rating Authority advises networks on what content to flag before a program. Spokesperson Melanie Fortnam commented on Mr. Belwether’s concerns.
“We alert viewers to rational fears most likely to trigger a negative response. We can’t address every single phobia.”
Belwether was unmoved. “They’re well-intentioned, but then what’s the point? Why put a warning for nudity before a show called ‘Love Secrets’? Or for violence in a film called ‘SlasherWorld’? How hard would it be to include ‘This show contains scenes of lizard sex.’ What about me?”
Fortnam countered. “How could we possibly list everything in the show someone might be afraid of?”
We conveyed this to Belwether.
“Then they need to change their mission,” he said. “Stop warnings about what the show contains. Provide assurances for what it does NOT contain. A movie could begin with, ‘This film does not portray any lizard sex.’ That could warn sensitive viewers.”
Fortnam declined to comment further.
“The TV Rating Authority messed with the wrong person,” Belwether said, furious at being ignored. He’s started a advocacy group, SUPAWLS (Standing Up for People Afraid of Witnessing Lizard Sex.) He’s considered hiring a lawyer.
“I dream of a day when I can relax while watching TV,” he said. “Without my finger hovering over the remote, ready to change the channel if I see … well, you know. That.”
As of this writing, his organization has no members.