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June 25, 2003 (Originally published in LNO and NET Monthly)
Barnes & Noble
Grapevine Offers this
Magazine to all Ages
What you are not warned about is
obscene language and even more
questionable references to Jesus
Christ and the mentally ill.
By Kelly Kosikowski
Would you allow your child to read Hustler? What if Hustler’s controversial publisher, Larry Flynt,
put out a sports magazine for children. What if that magazine’s demographic was for audiences,
including children, between the ages of 13 and 25.
Let me introduce you to Big Brother Skateboarding Magazine. A publication dedicated to the
extreme sport of skateboarding and published for our children by the one-and-only Larry Flynt.
Big Brother follows the lives of various twenty-somethings of the skateboard culture. There are
articles from ranging topics including new tricks to skate competitions in Australia. The
photography is expert. However, the language is full of obscenities and vulgarity.
Big Brother’s Editor, Dave Carnie, also participates on MTV’s skateboarding show, Jackass. The
show has become a small phenomenon among young teens. The show is dedicated to
debauchery and mayhem in any form. Carnie considers his controversial magazine, which follows
the same guide as the show, to be funny, engaging, relevant and non-fiction.
“We love fresh ideas from new people who have the same sense of humor and perspective we
do,” Carnie said. “We even love fresh ideas from people who hate us.”
Big Brother Magazine has been under fire for years. The cover suggests that the content is
harmless, but the material is racy, perhaps too racy for children. When reading the June edition
for research, I started to count the number of times a certain four-letter profanity was used. After
page twelve and way over fifty counted, I decided to give up.
“Big Brother always has, and always will be known for its controversy,” Grant Hogan from
JackassDownUnder.com, an Australian site dedicated to MTV’s Jackass, said. “Thus leading to
Larry Flynt being the only person that would publish it.”
Carnie himself is aware of the misguidance of the cover. In an interview with reporter John
Doezine, Carnie was asked “What tricks have you been working on?” The question was in
regards to his skateboarding. Carnie replied, “Making mothers think that Big Brother is filled with
recipes and pet care tips. I can't make it yet though. It's hard. Moms are smart.”
Recently a 10-year-old boy walked into Grapevine’s Barnes and Noble. After searching the
assortment of books and magazine the child asked his mother to buy him a magazine. The
mother, being cautious, inspected the cover. Everything looked fine. It was just a picture of a
male on a skateboard doing an elaborate trick. She bought the $4.00 magazine and left the store.
Later, at home, she went through some of the pages of Big Brother Skateboard Magazine. There
was vulgar language, sacrilegious images of a baby Christ, a photograph of a woman with down
syndrome with the caption, “Jill the Retard.”
Angered, the mother went to Barnes and Noble and asked to speak to the manager. The
manager knew nothing of the magazine, but said that it was on the shelf because Barnes and
Noble did not censor. Magazines considered “sophisticates” which includes Playboy, Flynt’s more
popular magazine Hustler and other pornographic magazines are kept behind the counter. The
Big Brother magazine was not considered offensive enough to be kept behind the counter.
I contacted Joan Bertin of the National Coalition Against Censorship. Being a writer, I do not
condone censorship, but I knew that there were several community members outraged saying
there is a difference between protecting your communities’ standards and banning first
Apparently, the Supreme Court has upheld laws that prohibit selling minors “adult” magazines
that are considered harmful to minors. Many states have such laws in place. However, it is up to
local authorities to decide which magazines are harmful and how to enforce these laws.
Big Brother Magazine does not fall under Grapevine’s city ordinance for display of
sexually explicit material to minors. The ordinance states that:
“ A person commits and offense if, in a business establishment open to persons
under the age of 17 years, said person displays a book, pamphlet, newspaper,
magazine, film, or video, the cover depicts , in a manner calculated to arouse
sexual lust or passion for commercial gain.” Section 14-119. (go to
www.ci.grapevine.tx.us and look under code of ordinances for more information).
The ordinance goes on to list specific scenarios that are deemed unacceptable. Therefore, it is
not illegal to sell Big Brother to ANY child.
In 1990, a bill was introduced in the Florida State Legislature requiring “parental advisory” labels
on any record, tape or CD that “contains lyrics descriptive of, advocating or glamorizing suicide,
sodomy, bestiality, sado-masochism, adultery or any form of sexual activity in a violent context.”
A sale of such records to anyone under the age of 18 was prohibited by law.
Advisory labels are still in place today. Warning parents that the content is not appropriate for
children. Why is there no advisory for adult magazines that are not considered porn. Legally it
falls into the jurisdiction of the city. Why are young, impressionable children able to buy
magazines that make their parents cringe?
If you are interested in the magazine’s content, but do not wish to help increase sales by
purchasing it, you can log onto www.bigbrothermagazine.com and you will have an insight to
Larry Flynt’s newest accomplishment.