More vi­o­lence, pro­fan­ity found in kids’ TV shows

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY CHRISTO­PHER VONDRACEK

Kids’ tele­vi­sion shows aren’t what they used to be, an en­ter­tain­ment watch­dog group says in a new re­port that notes a dra­matic rise in vi­o­lence and pro­fan­ity in pro­grams rated TV-PG.

In TV pro­grams shar­ing a com­pa­ra­ble rat­ing to Dis­ney films, words such as “suck/blow,” “hell/damn” and “bitch” and voyeur-style vi­o­lence are ap­pear­ing in­creas­ingly, the Par­ents Tele­vi­sion Coun­cil says in a study re­leased last week.

The study com­pared 2017-2018 sweeps episodes rated TV-PG (ap­pro­pri­ate for chil­dren with parental guid­ance) with sim­i­lar pro­gram­ming from a decade ear­lier. It found that vi­o­lence and foul lan­guage have crept into fam­ily pro­gram­ming with­out any re­sis­tance from ad­ver­tis­ers or reg­u­la­tors.

“TV is more dan­ger­ous for fam­i­lies today than when the sys­tem was de­vised,” said Peggy Nance, pres­i­dent of Con­cerned Women for Amer­ica, who spoke to re­porters about the re­sults.

Par­ents Tele­vi­sion Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Tim Win­ter said the “con­tent creep” falls squarely on the shoul­ders of a failed govern­men­tal ex­per­i­ment to al­low the tele­vi­sion net­works to reg­u­late them­selves for age-ap­pro­pri­ate con­tent via the in­dus­try­sup­ported TV Parental Guide­lines Over­sight Mon­i­tor­ing Board.

Mr. Win­ter pointed to a study in May by the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion that found nu­mer­ous flaws with the mon­i­tor­ing board and noted that the rat­ing sys­tem has not changed in more than 20 years.

“In­deed, it has not but con­tent has,” Mr. Win­ter said.

In its re­port, the watch­dog group re­served its strong­est crit­i­cism for The CW net­work’s TV-PG sit­com “Jane the Vir­gin,” not­ing its fre­quent ref­er­ences to sex.

An episode that first aired on Feb. 9, 2018, fea­tures a char­ac­ter say­ing: “I let go in bed. I like to sub­mit. To be dom­i­nated. That’s why Rafael and I got along so well.”

The re­port also flagged a Nov. 19, 2017, TV-PG episode of “The Simp­sons” on Fox.

“I can’t tol­er­ate hav­ing to hear Este­ban have sex with my un­born child,” a char­ac­ter says.

“He’s hav­ing sex with your un­born child’s mother,” a sec­ond char­ac­ter replies.

Ac­cord­ing to the Par­ents Tele­vi­sion Coun­cil, de­pic­tions of vi­o­lence in­creased 28% be­tween 2007-2008 and 2017-2018, with shows re­port­ing 1.89 to 2.42 in­stances of vi­o­lence per TV-PG episode.

But pro­fan­ity notched the big­gest gains, from an av­er­age of 3.81 in­stances of foul lan­guage on TV-PG episodes in 2007-2008 to 5.46 in­stances per episode in 2017-2018 — a 43% in­crease.

The re­port noted a Nov. 14, 2017, episode of the now-can­celed ABC se­ries “Kevin (Prob­a­bly) Saves the World” that in­cluded “pe­nis” and “lit­tle bitch” in an ex­change be­tween two char­ac­ters dis­cussing van­dal­iz­ing a lawn by burn­ing anatom­i­cal shapes into it.

The study calls for re­form­ing the mon­i­tor­ing board sys­tem “to serve the needs of par­ents and fam­i­lies.”

“The is­sue here is not cen­sor­ship. What we’re try­ing to avoid is bad sur­prises,” said Nell Min­now, who blogs as the Movie Mom and agrees with the study’s rec­om­men­da­tion to break the in­dus­try’s con­trol over its rat­ings sys­tem. “You can­not be the pitcher and the um­pire.”

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