My daughter has always been squeamish about eyeballs.
Ask her to name the scariest movie of all time? Who Framed Roger Rabbit, of course. She saw it once (and only once) at the age of four, and the scene near the end, in which the flattened Judge Doom re-inflates himself and reveals the malevolent Toon lurking beneath his popped-out prosthetic eyeballs, scarred her for life. And so, our family will always fast-forward past the melting of Nazi agent Toht in Raiders of the Lost Ark, decline to mourn the loss of Mad-Eye Moody inHarry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part I, and just steer clear of the absolute abomination that is Large Marge in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
I mention all this so that you will understand the sense of abject horror and dread I experienced when, several weeks ago, I drove to work down Motor Avenue and found myself face to face with a giant, eerie nun, her face as white as alabaster, crying (or bleeding?) black liquid from alien-like eyes. It was a (thoroughly disturbing) billboard for American Horror Story: Asylum looming over the entrance to Fox Studios. Adjacent to our beloved dog park. Big as the Times Square Jumbotron. I knew my daughter would freak out, and freak she did.
She insisted that I call the studio and demand that the billboard be removed immediately, which gave us the perfect opportunity to discuss that little thing called the First Amendment. Once I got going, she quickly went from billboard-ed to bored, and ultimately resolved to cover her eyes with a sweatshirt if I would simply shut up. But the issue stuck with me. As an attorney, I’m comfortable with the fact that First Amendment expression should not be unduly chilled by a ten-year-old with a (perhaps unreasonable) eye phobia. But the mom in me took umbrage at this offensive (or at least unsettling) billboard content. Should Fox have the right to upset my kid on a daily basis in its attempt to bring more “eyeballs” to its advertisers?