Family Org Proves Ratings for Children’s TV Are Rigged
By Jessilyn Lancaster, Managing Editor
The Parents Television Council reports television shows rated TV-PG saw a 28% increase in violence and a 43.5% increase in 2017-2018, compared to 2007-2008.
For shows rated TV-14, there was over 150% more violence, and 62% more profanity total in 2017-2018 than in 2007-2008.
Parents Television Council President Tim Winter said:
Hollywood tells parents that the content ratings are the best line of defense between children and inappropriate content. But, our new research completely upends that reasoning. Within the last decade, TV content rated as appropriate for children has become much more violent, and much more profane. Scenes with decapitation and dismemberment, and dialogue with words like asshole, bitch, bastard, dick, piss, and prick, receive the same content moniker – PG – as Shrek, Finding Dory and the Lego Movie. Simply put, parents cannot possibly rely on a TV content rating system that labels increasingly graphic content as appropriate for children.
How can there be such a dramatic increase in violence and profanity, and yet it is still rated as appropriate for kids? Because the TV content ratings are administered by the same networks that produce the content, and they are financially incentivized to rate the content as appropriate for children. But, the sham doesn’t end there. The TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board is tasked with overseeing the ratings system, yet its membership is comprised often of the same people who inaccurately rate the content in the beginning.
The Federal Communications Commission released a congressionally-mandated report this past May, affirming the numerous, intrinsic failings of the existing ratings system and its ostensible oversight. Five months have now passed since the FCC delivered that report to Congress, and since that time the industry has done absolutely nothing. And, left to the industry’s own devices, nothing will ever be done.
The increase in abhorrent elements in shows is also evident on the CW network. Leading shows ARROW, THE FLASH and SUPERGIRL are all rated TV-14, yet include gross sexual conduct, homosexuality and gratuitous violence.
The CW just announced a reboot of the show GOOD CHRISTIAN B******.
According to Deadline,
This is a brand new take on the concept, shifting the action to high school. Written by Nardino, it’s described as Clueless set in a Christian high school in tone. At a prestigious private Christian high school in Dallas, a war stoking the student body’s social divides erupts when the new girl on campus, the atheist daughter of a minister, inadvertently tangles with three popular girls who blame her for ruining their lives.
The original show, GCB, premiered on ABC in 2012 and was rated TV-PG. The family-friendly rating would communicate that the content was safe for older children. The content, however, proved that the rating should have been higher.
In addition to the Parent Television Council report, the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 2016 that ratings are ineffective and a false indicator of whether a program is safe for child viewers.
“Even in shows rated for children as young as 7 years, violence was prevalent, prominent, and salient. TV ratings were most effective for identification of sexual behavior and gory violence,” according to a study published in PEDIATRICS®.
When the team of pediatricians conducted an in-depth study, they found:
Across 17 shows evaluated, 14 contained instances of smoking, sexual behavior, and alcohol use, and 16 contained some form of violence. Every show had at least 1 depiction of 1 type of risk behavior.
Leading organizations in the television industry established The TV Parental Guidelines in 1996 to help parents determine which programs were appropriate for children. A monitoring board comprised of 24 people reviews complaints and public input to adjust the ratings.
Prior to the sham of the TV and of the Movie Ratings system, there were very good, very successful systems. Study after study shows that the ratings system is the cause of the problem of salacious and excessive content in movies and TV.
The rating system can’t be fixed. Why? Because a ratings system will always give Hollywood a license to insert toxic content into more and more of their movies and television programs.
Instead, Hollywood, including the television networks and cable outlets, needs to return to objective standards.
MOVIEGUIDE® and the Christian Film & Television Commission® have been talking about this problem for years. Other media outlets have even picked up on it.
For example, on Feb. 18, 1996, THE NEW YORK TIMES Arts & Leisure cover article talked about “The Ratings Games at the Cineplex” and how R-rated movies attracted children as young as 10-years-old, and how easily they were admitted into their local movie theater. In fact, many research studies have shown that it is children who go to R-rated movies (80 percent of the audience for R-rated movies are youths, with 60 percent under 17-years-old, while more mature moviegoers prefer PG and G fare like CINDERELLA, FROZEN and MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN). Quite often, the entertainment industry actually uses the R rating to attract susceptible teenagers.
The next day after THE NEW YORK TIMES revealed this dirty little secret, it ran an editorial (Feb. 19, 1996) calling for the networks to rate television programs for the V-chip. Buried in the editorial was the admission that the ratings “might encourage more adventurous programs from producers freed from the need to please the tastes of the broadest possible audience.”
Of course, this is exactly what happened, and it is children, not adults, who are attracted to more “adventurous” fare overflowing with perverse obscenity, sex and ultra-violence.
It’s important to note that the TV ratings system, just like the movie ratings system that started in the late 1960s, has marked the death knell of network or broadcast television.
Thus, the answer to the negative effects of media sex and violence is not ratings but objective standards – a proactive code of ethics that will guide television producers and others in the entertainment industry. All other professions hold to a code of ethics; so should the entertainment industry.
Pollution, even mind pollution, is best controlled at its source. Rating the water supply toxic is not the solution. Cleaning it up is. The same is true of the movie and television industries.
Millions of Americans long for the golden age of movies — fifty years ago when the studios released one classic after another, like: GONE WITH THE WIND, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Moral Americans often call or write me to ask: “Why don’t the studios produce any great family films or great biblical epics?
One reason for the lack of “good” movies today is the fact that the various Christian denominations abandoned their Hollywood film offices in the 1960s. Between 1933 and 1966, when representatives of the churches read every script from every major studio to make sure that it conformed to the high moral character of the Motion Picture Code, the movies were better, if only to pass the scrutiny of the Motion Picture Association of America and the church film offices.
In fact, most Christians forget that the Church exerted a great influence on the entertainment industry from 1933 to 1966. For thirty-three years, every script was read by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Film Office.
Their job was to evaluate a movie in terms of the Motion Picture Code. If the film passed the Code, it received the Motion Picture Code Seal and was distributed. If it didn’t pass, the theaters would not screen it.
The Code essentially adapted the Ten Commandments to the motion picture industry and specifically discouraged, senseless violence, sexual immorality and anti-religious values.
During the period of the Motion Picture Code, there was no explicit sex, violence, profanity, or blasphemy in movies. Also, films did not mock a minister of religion or a person’s faith (the religious persecution in Germany prompted this wise counsel). For the most part, movies and television programs communicated the true, the good and the beautiful.
It should surprise no one that most of the best films ever made were made during that thirty-five year time period, since creativity and imagination had to replace the cheap lures of sex and violence to attract an audience into the theaters. The renowned director/writer Elia Kazan has noted that he did his best work in the early fifties (STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and ON THE WATERFRONT) when he had to carefully craft his movies to get across his liberal ideas. He says his movies degenerated into flabby vehicles for his leftist views after the demise of the Motion Picture Code because he no longer had to worry about the church film offices.
Many of older creative people in Hollywood agree that the Motion Picture Code made them more creative as they sought ways to express themselves which wouldn’t violate the Code. However, the beneficial aspects of the Motion Picture Code will not be reflected again in scripts until the churches and moral Americans stand once more for decency in their movies and television programs (something that our ministry, Good News Communications, is pursuing with vigor).
Furthermore, it should not surprise Christians that movies with Christian themes did very well at the box office. The 1959 movie BEN-HUR saved MGM from bankruptcy just as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS had saved Paramount from bankruptcy in 1956. What is surprising is that the heads of the motion picture studios continue to be amazed when movies with Christian themes and wide audience appeal, such as CHARIOTS OF FIRE, consistently make big money at the box office.Do you enjoy articles like this? Click here to become a monthly partner and receive a copy of UNPLANNED on DVD!