Are you old enough to remember what it was like for the family to gather in front of the TV set, in the living room or den, and watch television … together? Remember when there were only three or four choices on that many networks, and parents and kids watched all at the same time … together?
Sometimes the parents decided, and the kids just watched, finding out a little more about what these adults were like; and sometimes the parents watched what the kids wanted, enjoying their kids even more than they enjoyed the kids’ choice. That’s when TV brought the family together, and everybody benefited.
This phenomenon called television was a family thing, often dramatic or educational, always entertaining, even fascinating. And through the content of our biggest shows, the whole world learned about America. The whole world envied and wanted to be like us.
Is any of the above true today? ‘Fraid not.
There are hundreds of choices now. Some are aimed at “adults,” which too often means extreme violence, rampant sex and dark, sordid themes. Some are aimed at women, which usually includes unreal “romance” and increasingly, more sex. There are still programs for children, usually insipid cartoons, or a new category – animated programs filled with adult references and questionable humor that mostly goes over the head of the kids, even blasphemy and immorality, like “South Park.” There’s something seditious about programs that look like kid shows, that kids may be attracted to, but which reflect the rebellious, irreligious attitudes of the creators.
And then there are the shows targeting the most desired market, teens. Actually, these shows are aimed at the 12 to 24 age viewers. They are the most impressionable, most likely to emulate the characters in the shows and most likely to buy the sponsors’ products.
Year by year, even month by month, these shows in general are becoming at least as intentionally dirty, immoral and “adult” in content and portrayal as what the movies rate as “R,” and sometimes even “X.” And now there are separate TVs for the kids, the teens and the parents.
The phenomenon that used to bring families together is now separating them into different rooms and vastly different worldviews and personal habits. In many cases, the parents are oblivious to what their kids are watching in another room – and they’re stunned when they find a teenage daughter is sexually active, maybe pregnant; a well brought up son is on drugs or becoming an alcoholic. And from time to time, the nation is shocked when a kid brings guns to school and kills a teacher or other students.
And the parents find out, through counseling, that too much of this unexpected behavior was directly influenced by what the kids were watching in the other room.
I proudly, even gratefully, serve as a board member of the Parents Television Council, the leading organization devoted to saving our country and its traditional values by cleaning up television. Yes, I know that sounds presumptuous, even impossible. Once Pandora’s box is opened, you can’t get the demonic imps back in, can you? Once the barriers are broken, you can’t raise them again – can you?
YES, YOU CAN.
If the American people, the families that once benefited from television, are properly informed, they will be motivated to action. We’ve proved it. And if big companies that sponsor TV shows, hoping viewers will buy their products, learn that they are funding the corruption and downfall of America, and that angry families will cease buying what they’re selling, the companies will withdraw their sponsorship of vile programs. We’ve proved it.
I myself, as part of a campaign by the PTC, wrote personal letters to the CEO of Toyota/America and the official in the U.S. Army responsible for sponsorship of “Nip/Tuck,” one of the most sordid shows ever on television. I asked Toyota, “Do you really want your hoped-for customer to watch this depraved filth and think of your cars?” I asked the Army, “Do you really think young men and women watching the macabre sexual actions depicted on ‘Nip/Tuck’ will want to get up and enlist in our Army?”
My letters and hundreds of thousands of others like mine caused the sponsors to run from the decadent show. It’s gone.
And this result has been achieved over and over. WE CAN CLEAN UP TV … if Americans still have moral values and the backbone to defend them.
Lately, Tim Winter and the PTC have been alerting parents to the scabrous MTV show “Skins.” Heard of it? If you’re older than 24, probably not. But your children, even early teens, most likely are well aware of it, and discuss the latest episode with their friends at school. The creators at MTV claim the show is “realistic” and true to life. But most teenagers have nothing resembling the experiences of the characters on “Skins.” Do yours?
In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control reported that less than half of teens had sex during high school; but only one of the eight main characters on “Skins” is a virgin, and they’re all high schoolers.
A study by the University of Michigan found that only a third of high-school seniors have smoked marijuana, and under 10 percent had tried hard drugs. But on “Skins,” half the characters use drugs, continually, and more than half are shown smoking marijuana almost incessantly.
And the U.S. Department of Health states that only a quarter of minors 12 to 20 have consumed alcohol – but every teen on “Skins” indulges in illegal underage drinking. So much for “realism” and being “true to life.”
PTC mounted the viewer-response campaign and publicized the show’s graphic and harmful content. Clearasil dropped the show. And in short order, so did Taco Bell, General Motors, Subway, H&R Block, Schick and L’Oreal. It suddenly occurred to them that sleazy, irrational and immoral programs might not be the best way to market their products. The program is now a total failure for the network – but you’re still funding it.
Yep, every cable or satellite subscriber contributes about $1 a month to MTV in the subscription fee. There are 100 million subscribers in the U.S, which means that MTV is collecting a billion dollars a year from parents and families.
Friend, please visit www.ParentsTV.org and see how they’re valiantly defending your kids, their character, their future lives. We’re trying to save America – and we seek your help.