Popular television has a subtle but significant role in promoting circumcision in the United States. It seems almost obligatory to devote at least part of an episode of every sitcom and soap opera to the topic. The foreskin is commonly denigrated. Contradictory messages are given — for example, that only Jews circumcise babies but all men are circumcised. Pain and harm are minimized or treated as comic. Wherever circumcision is treated as controversial, it is also treated as trivial and inevitable. Talk shows find it good fodder for noisy controversy.
Circumcision occupies a peculiar place in United States culture, being simultaneously ubiquitous, controversial, and a taboo topic of conversation. Thus, to refer to it on television can be simultaneously mundane and daring, a contradiction to which much television programming aspires. It is hardly surprising that references to circumcision maintain a high level of ambiguity: while people may argue about it, the outcome is almost invariably to promote it.
KeywordsMilo Defend Blindness Metaphor Folk
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Young H. P. The Intactivism Pages: Treatment of Circumcision on TV. Cited 2006 May 20. Available from: URL: http://www.circumstitions.com/TVSitcoms.html
- 2.Glick, L. B. Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America. New York: OUP; 2005, p 241Google Scholar
- 3.Pilot, Season 1, Episode 1, first broadcast September 20, 1999Google Scholar
- 4.The population of the US was 300,282,868 on November 26, 2006 (according tohttp://www. census.gov/population/www/popclockus.html)of whom 6,155,000 (2.05%) were Jewish (according to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/usjewpop.html). Assuming the same sex ratio (50:50) for both, and conservatively estimating that 100% of Jewish males and 60% of gentile males are circumcised, that would mean 3,077,500 Jewish males are circumcised and 90,084,860 gentiles, giving a maximum of 3.30% of US circumcision being Jewish.
- 5.Glick, L. B. Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America. New York: OUP; 2005, p 217Google Scholar
- 6.Young, H. P. Circumcision as a Memeplex. In Hodges, Frederick and Milos, Marilyn, editors. [Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Human Rights and Modern Society: Advancing Human Dignity and the Legal Right to Bodily Integrity in the 21st Century.] New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers; 2006.Google Scholar
- 7.Glick, L. B. Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America. New York: OUP; 2005, p 47Google Scholar
- 8.Season 1, Episode 20 “The Unkindest Cut”, first broadcast April 21, 2002Google Scholar
- 9.Series 2, Episode 9, “Old Dog, New Tricks” (or “Old Dogs, New Dicks”), first broadcast August 1, 1999Google Scholar
- 10.Season 5, Episode 69, “The Bris”, first broadcast September 14, 1993Google Scholar
- 11.Glick, L. B. Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America. New York: OUP; 2005, p 267Google Scholar
- 12.Glick, L. B. Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America. New York: OUP; 2005, pp 268–9Google Scholar
- 13.Season 2, Episode 26, “Turn Turn Turn”, first broadcast October 7, 1998Google Scholar
- 14.Season 15, Episode 6, “Today I am a Clown”, first broadcast December 7, 2003Google Scholar
- 15.Season 1, Episode 3 (or 103), first broadcast December 10, 2000Google Scholar
- 16.Season 8, Episode 169, “A Little off the Top”, first broadcast December 12, 1993Google Scholar
- 17.Season 4, Episode 72, “Friendly Fire”, first broadcast September 9, 1997Google Scholar
- 18.Series 2, Episode 1 “Roundheads And Cavaliers”, first broadcast September 16, 1996Google Scholar