(A publication of The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Court, N.E. Washington, DC 20002 (202) 543-4110; Fax (202) 543-5975; E-Mail [email protected])
Date of Issue: February 16, 1996
General Information Contact: Arturo Silva or Michael Session
Citing the vulgar language and sexual content dominating prime time programs running during the traditional 8 p.m. "Family Hour," members of the African-American leadership group Project 21 are calling on Hollywood to clean up its act. A new report from the Media Research Center entitled: A Vanishing Haven: The Decline of the Family Hour supports the contention of Project 21 members that prime time family hour program standards are declining. Among the study's findings:
The four-week survey covered September 21 through October 19 of Family Hour programming on the broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the United Paramount Network, and Warner Brothers. The Media Center report cited what it described as the Family Hour's decreasing respect for parental authority and traditional values most noticeable in two areas: language and sexual content.
Project 21 member Alberta Christy, Secretary Emeritus of the Orange County Republican Party, says, "It's appalling what is shown and said on television today. It befuddles me that producers would think that such gutter language and sexual innuendo must be used in order to attract an audience. What ever happened to family-friendly programming? The bottom line is that television producers should themselves draw the line of where decency ends and trash television begins. They too have a social responsibility to the viewing public."
"The quality of television programming from a family-friendly perspective seems to have gotten less and less friendly over the years. You cannot turn on your television without seeing the unusual or obscene. Traditional values are bombarded with ridicule. One cannot help but reach the conclusion that Hollywood producers do not share the same sense of right and wrong as does the mainstream of American society. They basically live in a world of their own, out of touch with the rest of us. Just like the city of New York cannot and does not represent America as a whole, Hollywood cannot and does not represent American culture," adds Project 21 member Reverend Dwight Williams of the Bethel Baptist Church in Stockton, California.
Research indicates that half of the total American population have three or fewer partners over their lifetime. However, prime-time television depicts a much more indulgent society. The Media Research Center report found 40 treatments of premarital sex during their survey period. These outnumbered treatments of marital sex by an 8-1 ratio and the vast majority of premarital-sex portrayal condoned the behavior by presenting it as a simple matter of fact.
Project 21 member C. Mason Weaver, President of the Oceanside, California-based Committee to Restore America says, "Hollywood's deliberate portrayal of premarital-sex as a simple part of everyday life is a cold, calculated attempt to challenge societal norms and desensitize us to deviant behavior by applying shock treatment. It's part of what social researchers call defining deviancy down, whereby behavior once condemned becomes accepted and tolerated after being repeated and exposed over and over again."
Project 21 member and Western Regional Coordinator for the Christian Coalition Stephan Brown says, "Hollywood has demonstrated time and time again that they cannot be trusted to police themselves. Congress has given them ample time and opportunity to get their moral act together, but they have failed to do so. A pattern has developed of concerned citizens criticizing Hollywood's taste for trash. Congressional threats to step in and regulate Hollywood usually follow.
Hollywood then accuses the Congress and public of attempted censorship. In the end, Hollywood agrees to censor itself. This is a failed pattern which should be broken. I think the time is now for Congress to take more action in fulfilling its obligation of protecting the public airwaves. I think the Congress should pass legislation that would require television programs to be rated like motion pictures."
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