As stated in a previous post, the otherwise laudable Saved by the Bell episode "Pipe Dreams" has long disturbed this reviewer. This disturbance stems from an inexplicable dream sequence in which Screech portrays a man of Arab descent. The scene is simply reprehensible and TSOF cannot imagine why this episode continues to air in syndication. Today, TSOF took his outrage directly to the FCC. Considering the rather narrow definition of "indecent," this reviewer does not have high expectations for this Complaint. The FCC has defined broadcast indecency as “language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities.” Apparently, the FCC is far more concerned with jokes about diarrhea than it is scenes that are aimed at offending an entire region/religion.
"The following is a true and accurate account of TSOF's Complaint to the FCC:
June 22, 2009
Dear Mr. Commissioner:
This morning at 7 a.m. I began my day by watching Saved by the Bell on the Turner Broadcasting Station. Usually I find this show charmingly inoffensive. I am sad to report, however, that what I saw this morning simply appalled me. During the episode "Pipe Dreams," an otherwise whimsical farce in which Bayside strikes oil on the football field, there is a dream sequence in which one of the characters, one Samuel "Screech" Powers, performs an imitation of a man of Middle Eastern descent. Said imitation was both mocking and cruel and cannot be tolerated. Surely such a display constitutes an indecent broadcast under the standards of your fine commission. Accordingly, I am requesting that the FCC see to it that this scene is removed from all future airings of "Pipe Dreams."
The scene in question occurs approximately eight minutes into the episode and entails the Saved by the Bell gang engaging in a joint dream about how their lives would change if Bayside struck oil. In the vision, they are all rich. The classroom now has wood paneling and leather chairs and the gang is dressed in the trappings of wealth. At the beginning of the dream sequence, Screech is notably absent. The tone of the scene, however, takes a drastic turn upon his arrival. Screech enters the scene dressed as an Arabian sheik. He speaks with what is apparently actor Dustin Diamond’s feeble and insulting attempt at a Middle Eastern accent. Furthermore, Mr. Diamond plays the part cross-eyed and accompanied by two belly dancers. He then commands Kelly to join him on a camel to travel to Saudi Arabia, a land he claims he now owns. Needless to say, I was disgusted. There is no place for this kind of disgusting bigorty on television today.
I do not need to tell you that improving this great nation's relations with people of Middle Eastern descent is at the forefront of all of our goals. We are fighting a war on terror both home and abroad. Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, this country's image in that important and strategic region has been, to say the least, tarnished. It seems at this very moment in our history, it is important that we take strides towards a greater understanding with the Middle East and its people. That goal seems impossible as long as Screech is ridiculing the region in a popular syndicated children's program.
What alarms me most is that this offensive episode first aired on October 26, 1991 - on Saturday morning television no less! In the seventeen years since its first airing, "Pipe Dreams" has undoubtedly aired hundreds, if not thousands, of times on the numerous broadcast stations carrying Saved by the Bell in syndication. The airing of this insidious bigotry simply must be put to an end. Now I am not usually one to promote censorship but clearly market forces have not allowed this sad moment in Hollywood history to quietly slip from the airwaves. Instead, after a long and painful seventeen years, it is time for the government to save us from ourselves and pull Screech's antics from the airwaves.
Thank you for your consideration and good day to you.
The Son of Feeney