• A Sinister Side to TV’s Sex Obsession

    by  • May 30, 2013 • 4 Every Girl, Sex, Sexualization • 0 Comments

    The UK’s Telegraph recently reported concerns raised by Equity, the union representing actors, about actors being asked to strip down for casting sessions due to the increased presence of sexual content and nudity on television.

    As the PTC reported in a 2012 study, nudity on television has increased in the United States by more than 400% in just one year.

    The increased demand for actors and actresses who are willing to bare all for a role has left many vulnerable to abuse. Casting couch horror stories go back to the early days of film, and many young actors and actresses, including Corey Feldman and Thandie Newton, have spoken out about suffering from sexual abuse at the hands of Hollywood’s rich and powerful. But because of TV and film’s increased reliance on sex and nudity, more and more aspiring actors may come to view stripping-down in an audition as normal, even necessary to move ahead in their careers.

    What’s even more troubling is the message such scenes send to young viewers, girls in particular, when more and more teen actresses are being sexualized on screen.

    The real tragedy is that it doesn’t need to be this way. There is little evidence that the increase in sex and nudity on television or in films is being driven by consumer demand. In fact, quite the opposite. A recent story in the Sunday Times reported that more and more sex scenes are being deliberately cut from movie scripts as movie producers have come to realize that such scenes can actually hurt the bottom line.

    But on television, where only six companies control 90% of the media we consume, the networks can afford to push this programming agenda, even if it’s unpopular, as long as they can find sponsors to underwrite it. Only when they feel the financial pressure to change, will the networks stop this troubling trend.





    Ms. Henson is a noted expert on entertainment industry trends and the how the impact of entertainment affects children and the American popular culture at large. She also directs the organization’s Advertiser Accountability Campaign, which encourages companies to sponsor family-friendly entertainment. She previously supervised the research and program content analysis operations of the PT and produced a number of groundbreaking PTC studies that document the levels of graphic sex, violence and profanity on television. Some of those reports include: The Ratings Sham I & II, Dying to Entertain, Faith in a Box, The Sour Family Hour, The Blue Tube, and TV Bloodbath. She began her career with the PTC in 1997 as an entertainment analyst, documenting instances of inappropriate content on television. Ms. Henson has appeared on a variety of television shows including Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Big Story, CNN Headline News’ ShowBiz Tonight, CNBC’s On the Money, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, and CBN’s Newswatch. She is a frequent guest on radio talk shows across the country and has been quoted extensively in news sources such asEntertainment Weekly, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Variety, Associated Press, Reuters, and Bloomberg. Ms. Henson is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a BA in Government. She resides in Falls Church, Va., with her husband and their son.

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