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One of the tamer ads for ‘Gossip Girl’
A new campaign by the CW Television Network for its “Gossip Girl” show features blatant sex and profanity, drawing a horrified response from parent advocates.
The campaign features print and Internet ads, one depicting a teen boy
kissing the cleavage of an actress. The two versions include huge
lettering across the steamy image, either OMG, which in today’s
text-speak stands for “Oh, My God,” or the racier OMFG which adds profanity to the mix.
“It certainly seems as if they keep reaching for the bottom of the barrel,” Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education for the Parents Television Council, told WND.
“I think it’s extremely disappointing they would resort to these tactics to lure young viewers,” she said.
“The Parents Television Council deplores the CW’s deliberate use of profanity and sexual imagery to exploit and further corrupt young viewers, and has warned its members about the show and the new ad campaign,” the organization said in a statement. “Teenagers are a particularly vulnerable audience, and are more apt to be influenced by the programming they watch than adults.”
Henson told WND some adults may miss the meaning of the initials plastered across the advertisement, “but kids understand perfectly what’s going on.”
“It’s really unfortunate the network uses these sleazy tactics in order to attract that young audience in light of the fact it wasn’t that long ago when WB had a huge hit series with ‘Seventh Heaven,’ which was very clean and wholesome,” she said.
The program, Parents TV said, appeals to the female audience ages 12-17 and “glamorizes casual sex and drug use among teens.”
Storylines have featured a would-be teen rapist, threesomes among teens and teenage girls having sex with adults. Also included have been multiple scenes of teens drinking, smoking pot and having sex, the group said.
The cast of ‘Gossip Girl’
“It’s sort of like ‘Sex and the City’ for the Clearasil set,” Henson said. “There are frequent episodes of underage drinking, promiscuous sexual behavior, teens going to strip clubs, hanging out at night clubs.
“Moreover there’s really little or no discussion of consequences or risks of engaging in this behavior,” she said.
Parents need first to monitor their children’s television viewing, and if such programs are in the mix, “the parents need to have a serious discussion with their kids,” she said. “When parents are there they can provide the other side of the picture, explain why the behavior on television is not appropriate. Moreover it’s not even normal.”
The Parents Television Council, a non-partisan education group advocating responsible television, says it works to ensure children are not assaulted constantly by sex, violence and profanity.
It has more than a million members and works both with the makers of programs as well as elected and appointed government officials to stem the flow of negative messages targeting children.
The CW Television Network was assembled as a joint venture with Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS. It offers programs such as “Reaper,” “America’s Next Top Model,” which also was targeted by the Parents Television Council for its portrayal of nudity, and “Everybody Hates Chris.”
The network claims it is “a reflection of the adult 18-34 audience” and describes itself as “socially responsible.”
CW said in a statement reported by the Hollywood Reporter that it “wanted to create a provocative campaign that stands out from the competition and reminds viewers of some of the ‘OMG’ moments that have made ‘Gossip Girl’ one of the most buzzed-about new shows on television.”
The network continued, “This sexy, sophisticated campaign speaks directly to our adult 18-34 viewers using expressions that are part of their lexicon.”
On the TMZ website forum page, “Dallas” wrote, “I am shocked and grateful I don’t have children! Will be calling my sister to make sure my 6-year-old niece DOESN’T watch this!”
“I’m usually on the liberal side of things but all I can think of when I see the stuff geered (sic) at the tweens/teens lately is that the whole world is going to hell,” added Tamara. “That advertisement ladies and gentlemen is a perfect example of why my thirteen year old daughter will NOT be allowed to watch this show.”
CW describes “Gossip Girl” as “an American television teen drama” that “revolves around the lives of socialite young adults growing up on New York’s Upper East Side who attend elite academic institutions while dealing with sex, drugs, and other TEENAGE ISSUES.”
Parents TV gives the program a red light for sex and language and says “the content … is decidedly adult, in spite of the characters being teenagers. … There has been a prolonged, graphic sex scene between two teenaged characters and two others where a character offers her virginity to her boyfriend but they’re interrupted.”
“Both the drugs and drinking are presented as glamorous, easy to obtain, and part of their everyday life,” the evaluation said..” There is no identification of how young teens are able to obtain all the alcohol or the illegal drugs. Parents on this series are also portrayed as distant, uncaring, and are depicted as using their children for personal gain and not seeming concerned about their welfare or happiness.”
The website noted sponsors of the program include Cadbury Schweppes, Johnson & Johnson, AT&T Corp., Procter & Gamble Co., Pepsi-Cola North America, Unilever United States, L’Oreal USA and McDonald’s.