By David Chipp-Smith
All you have to do is turn on the television and watch the networks to see what the state of television is these days. From the now infamous Super Bowl Half-Time Show to the various award shows, Hollywood continues to push the envelope when it comes to language and decency in the media. What is the most surprising is the large increase in questionable language that has seemed to creep into network shows especially during what is known as the family hour which is between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
According to a study released by the Parents Television Council in September 2003, Adult language during the Family Hour increased by 94.8% between 1998 and 2002 and by 109.1% during the 9 p.m. ET/PT time slot! (www.parentstv.org) This does not even include the rash of language that has occurred during live awards shows. During the Billboard Music Awards on December 10, 2003, Nicole Richie said the S-word and the F-word in what appeared to be staged comments that she was reading from the teleprompter. During the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, U2's lead singer Bono used the F-word in his acceptance speech.
More and more Hollywood continues to push the envelope. Look at NYPD Blue. The language that is being used in that show has reached unbelievably new lows. The NBC show ER reconsidered their decision to show a woman's bare breast in a February broadcast due to the Janet Jackson fallout, but were planning to show this on regular network television before the controversy.
But none of this compares to the language and gross indecency that comes over the Canadian air-waves. After 9:00 pm, the Canadian Radio-Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) allows nudity and the use of foul language. I was watching a movie on CTV at 8:30 pm one night and to my horror the F-word was heard 3 times in approximately 2 minutes. Upon contacting both CTV and the CRTC to lodge a complaint, I was told that although the word should have been deleted from the broadcast before 9:00 pm, after that time they were not under any obligation to censor any language. When asked why, they stated that the Canadian public as a whole did not object to language being broadcast after 9:00 pm. How do they know that? What they said next shocked me. "We base this on the amount of complaints that we receive when such incidents occur. When a very small amount of complaints are received, it is assumed that not a lot people are concerned about it."
What the CRTC and the Canadian networks take into account is the number of complaints it receives. For example, the CRTC received a whopping 3 complaints (according to a press release issued by the CRTC) in regards to the Super Bowl Half-Time show. Another 10 complaints were registered in regards to the Labatts ad where two women were shown locked in a steamy kiss. But CBC and the CRTC received an enormous amount of complaints about a comment made by Don Cherry where he mentioned that "Europeans and French-guys" were the only ones that wore visors while playing hockey. Almost immediately Cherry was placed on a 7 second delay. What is wrong with us as a society? Are we so politically correct that someone's opinion is more offensive than foul language?
One thing I hear all the time was 'what does it matter if my kids are exposed to these things, after all won't they be exposed to language and other things outside of the home?' It is important that we protect the minds of our children. After all, they soak everything in. It gets to the point that as we allow this stuff into our homes, we are basically giving our children our stamp of approval.
It gets to the point that as we allow this stuff into our homes, we are basically giving our children our stamp of approval. By not stopping this stuff from entering our homes, we are approving of it - by default. What does it do to us subliminally? The more we hear foul language and the more we see these indecent acts on the movies and on the television, the more we get desensitized to it. The more it becomes common place. If we can be desensitized to it, what do you think this will do to our children? So what can we do about it? First of all, as parents, we need to stand up and make our voices heard. It is very important to write to the CRTC in Canada (www.crtc.ca) and the FCC in the U.S. (www.fcc.gov) to let them know that this type of television is unacceptable. One website that keeps on top of this in the U.S. is www.onemillionmoms.com. It is a comprehensive site that is a great tool for letting U.S. companies and the FCC know that television shows that push the envelope will not be tolerated. Another one is the Parent's Television Council (www.parentstv.org). Currently a Canadian site is being developed to help people contact the companies that advertise on the Canadian networks. Secondly, we need to monitor what our children are watching. Even the 'Family Friendly' shows are using God's name in vain several times an episode. Do we want our kids to be subjected to that? After all, how can look at our kids and tell them that foul language will not be accepted in our home, yet we watch shows where God's name is taken in vain and other questionable language is used - even during the so-called family hour. Children, no matter what their age, will pick this up and what they hear affects them. It affects a child subliminally.
A third option is to get a device like the TVGuardian. It is a foul-language filter that limits the amount of language that comes over the networks. Although it does not filter out live shows, it will significantly reduce language by 95% on both t.v. and the movies!
Another option as far as movies are concerned, you can purchase movies that have objectionable material edited out from a company called Clean Films. They ship throughout the U.S. and now ship to Canada.
One thing that is for sure, as the networks continue to see how far they can push the envelope when it comes to foul language and indecency, it is getting harder and harder to trust anything that comes over the airwaves. As the Super Bowl Half-Time event showed, not even something as innocent as a football game is immune.
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