• Television Deluges Viewers with Violence

    by  • March 4, 2014 • Advertiser Accountability, Ratings Reform, Studies, Violence, Worst of the Week • 18 Comments

    Vissue_P4(5th in a Series about Media Violence)

    Last week, we warned you about the return of NBC’s Hannibal – a prime-time TV series, airing on the publicly-owned airwaves at 10:00 p.m. ET (only 9:00 p.m. in the Central/Mountain time zones), in which a cannibalistic serial killer is the show’s hero!

    Hannibal is only one of the new breed of ultra-graphic, ultra-gory TV series which revels in explicit violence and glorifies murderers.  Each and every one of those violent programs, which air during the primetime viewing hours on broadcast television – not on cable – has been deemed by the TV networks to be appropriate for children as young as 14.

    Rather than just telling a powerfully entertaining story, the broadcast networks today seem obsessed with violence simply for the sake of shock-value.

    Here are more examples of the kind of violence the broadcast networks – who use the airwaves that YOU own! – beamed into every living room in America last year:

    The Blacklist (NBC), TV-14 VL
    Elizabeth returns home and discovers her husband Tom tied to a chair. Tom has been severely beaten and is covered with blood from head to chest. His mouth is covered by duct tape. A terrorist holds a gun on Elizabeth as he stabs Tom in the upper thigh and leaves the knife in the wound. As Elizabeth screams, the terrorist yanks the knife out of Tom’s leg and stabs Tom in the stomach. (first aired September 23, 2013)

    Revolution (NBC), TV-14 V
    Charlie is assaulted by five men. One grabs her and she breaks his arm.  Another man punches her in the back. She grabs a pool cue and smashes him in the stomach with the cue. Another man punches her in the face, and a third strangles her. Monroe bursts in, wielding a sword and a dagger. He slashes open one man’s chest and another’s stomach, then uses his sword to stab the man in the chest. Blood sprays onto Monroe’s face as he pulls the sword from the dead man’s chest. (first aired October 16, 2013)

    Sleepy Hollow (Fox), TV-14 LV

    During a Revolutionary War battle, Crane aims his pistol at an axe-wielding Hessian soldier charging him on horseback. Crane fires a shot that knocks the soldier to the ground, but the soldier jumps up and swings his axe at Crane, slashing him across the chest. Crane stumbles to the ground as the Hessian is about deliver a fatal axe swing. Crane grabs a sword and beheads the soldier. The head is shown flying off his neck as blood sprays everywhere. (first aired September 16, 2013)

    Supernatural (CW), TV-14 VL
    Castiel follows a trail of blood leading to the bodies of two priests impaled on the wrought metal fence of a cemetery. The fencing sticks out of both men’s chests. Both priests have had their eyes gouged out and we see blood dripping from the mutilated sockets down their faces. (first aired October 22, 2013)

    Criminal Minds (CBS), TV-14 LV
    A woman is held captive, tied to medical chair, screaming. It is revealed that her torturer has implanted a miniature camera planted inside her eye, which is broadcasting the ongoing torture to the internet. FBI Agents watch remotely as her torture is broadcast. The woman’s abductor picks up a hammer and an ice pick weapon. FBI Agents watch as the hammer is driven into the victim’s head. (first aired October 16, 2013)

    Law & Order: SVU (NBC), TV-14 DLSV
    Detective Benson is held captive by a serial rapist. She is handcuffed to a metal bed frame, cut and bruised from the rapist’s previous assault. The rapist holds her jaw open and places a gun inside her mouth, then tells Benson to beg for her life. (first aired September 25, 2013).

    And this is not even including other gory broadcast shows like Fox’s The Following, NBC’s Dracula, or NBC’s Grimm.

    UP NEXT (in Media Violence E-Series #6)

    In their meeting with Vice-President Biden in the wake of the Newtown massacre, the broadcast networks stated they had a “longstanding commitment to helping parents protect their children.” How well they are keeping their “commitment” can be seen by the examples above – particularly their ratings.

    The ratings given to broadcast shows is yet another piece of the problem…as we will see in our next report. 




    18 Responses to Television Deluges Viewers with Violence

    1. brandon
      May 19, 2015 at 2:05 am

      Why do we put criminals in jail if it’s not their fault? If violent media is to blame then the individual shouldn’t be punished.

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        May 19, 2015 at 8:57 am


        you study film, yet you claim film has absolutely no influence on anyone?

        Of course criminals who perform criminal acts are responsible for their own actions. We’ve never said or thought otherwise. What we do say is that people can be INFLUENCED by media…by the relentless glorification of violence, day after day, year after year. It can and does have an influence…as any parent of a three-year old can tell you.

        Is violent media solely responsible for violent actions? Of course not. Does it contribute to the problem? Definitely.

    2. V. Maola
      March 7, 2014 at 5:45 am

      We have gotten to the place where we watch NO network shows with the exception of 60-Minutes, Sunday Morning, Letterman, PBS presentations….
      We use the DVR for these & refuse to watch the garbage on networks. We have contacted network heads to no avail. The only solution is going through the advertisers & refuse their products & let them know. TV used to be fun & entertaining but no longer.

    3. Jo Wandfrey
      March 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      I worry about all the children who are allowed to watch whatever they please. Most healthy families are not watching these programs, but many others are, obviously.
      What can we do about it?
      I certainly don’t watch them, nor do my family members.
      Doesn’t seem to make a difference.

    4. Lucille
      March 5, 2014 at 11:30 am

      I think the plethora of violent, licentious, profane, amoral and dark programming that has been put out for public viewing whether in the movie theaters or television is at best irresponsible and at worst, intentional to affect the minds and the moral compass of a nation. I believe that there is no real excuse for putting this kind of garbage before the public, and in the case of television, using OUR public airwaves to abuse the viewership when they know that what people are exposed to regularly will affect their attitudes and thinking. It’s propaganda, and it is a lie to claim that it will not desensitize people from good morals. This abuse has to be addressed both by shutting off our televisions, and by a massive protest from the public both to the television production companies and to their sponsors to be effective. At this point, television producers are dismissing the public’s few protests and laughing to the bank. I am grateful for those organizations who have contacted me about bad television content with a way to petition sponsors and the executives of television stations. Our massive protests to the FCC recently made them back off from placing “monitors” in newsrooms to control content. Protests caused many sponsors to rescind their advertising dollars from aiding Al Jazeera from getting more of a foothold in the US.

      • V. J. Bila
        March 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

        The continued use of extreme violence & vulgarities on television can best be countered by contacting the sponsors of such programs and threatening loss of support and business. However, on movie channels, I suspect the film makers themselves need direction as to our preferences. How to do this needs addressing. Film makers are of the opinion that the grossness of their films is what we want, which is a message to us that we are nit wits !

    5. Korrey
      March 5, 2014 at 8:34 am

      Unless people with high standards begin to turn off their sets, nothing will change. The fact is, there are more Americans with higher standards then those in high places in the industry. If we cannot get together on this moral issue and be of one mind and one voice to be heard and have a big enough impact by turning TV off for a season, not forever, just long enough to send a real message, nothing will change. But we are so caught up with our creature comforts and don’t want to be “without” even for a short duration. It’s a sad tale for America and our children . The next generation (those who will vote) will have a very twisted and perverted sense of their world, I really do fear for our future.

      • Marion
        March 7, 2014 at 12:14 am

        I totally agree. Turn the set off. No viewers, advertisers will feel the pinch.

    6. Constance
      March 5, 2014 at 7:18 am

      There is only one way to deal with violence on TV. Cable Choice. Media companies should never be able to shove unordered violent or sexual content into peoples homes. And we should not be forced to subsidize this garbage.

    7. Esther Hoskin
      March 5, 2014 at 7:13 am

      I watched Criminal Minds for the first season but it is trash and I have not watched it since! We had a school shooting here in Roswell, NM and everyone was horrified, WHY? they let their kids watch horror and play awful video games and then they cry when something bad happens! Give us some more Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, NCIS, at least when something happens you don’t see the blood and gore. I am a mother, grand-mother and great grandmother.

    8. Robin
      March 5, 2014 at 6:13 am

      I majored in Psychology and Sociology in college and understand the nature-nurture theory. As a family, we try to avoid watching any shows with violence but sometimes get blind sided while watching one that normally doesn’t have violence. There are many households that do not use parental controls. I believe Hollywood should be held accountable and not be able to air these violent shows period. We as a society will regret not taking action when more and more shootings and violence happens in our schools. Cause and effect people!

    9. Kathy Wynn
      March 5, 2014 at 4:19 am

      I agree with you. What is in the minds of the writers of these grotesque shows? This just makes me sick that this junk is allowed to be shown on TV. Suggestion that everyone get together and bombard VP Biden to get all these shows taken off the air and cancelled.

    10. Mary
      March 5, 2014 at 3:54 am

      Parental controls are not enough, because not all parents use them. These horrendous programs should be pay-per-view, NOT included in broadcast packages at all. The best solution would be for advertisers to avoid supporting them and then this filth might decrease. The rating system is useless and irresponsible.

      • M.K.
        March 5, 2014 at 3:22 pm

        I agree with Mary – we should not have to pay for programs like these that we don’t watch. Take those off our bills and make them pay-per-view. And do not patronize the businesses that sponsor such programming.

      • Tyler
        March 5, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        I’m sorry but if parents don’t use parental controls, shouldn’t someone try and campaign for the use of them? Being someone who’s enjoyed violent media for at least half of my 19 years of life, I seem to have more common sense than most… If and when I do have a child, you can be sure I’ll enable parental controls.

        We have the tools so people should start to use them, instead of letting others be the ones to fully take charge.

        • Christopher Gildemeister
          March 6, 2014 at 9:31 am


          Of course, using parental controls is desirable – but it’s far from the solution to the problem, because the system of ratings on which the parental controls depend is so flawed.

          Urging parents to use parental controls is one of the entertainment industry’s favorite tactics. In fact, a couple years ago, the industry spent half a billion – that’s “billion” with a “B” – dollars on an ad campaign called “The TV Boss,” telling parents to do so.

          But there are several problems with this approach. Firstly, the process for setting up the V-Chip is complex and confusing, so many parents find dealing with it challenging and don’t bother.

          Secondly, and a much bigger problem, is that the V-Chip determines what to screen out by looking at the age and content ratings for each program (TV-PG V, TV-14 DLSV, and so forth). And who assigns the ratings to each episode? THE TV NETWORKS THEMSELVES! The lower the rating the network gives a program, the more young people will be watching. Young people are the most desirable demographic for advertisers, who pay the networks to show their commercials; so the lower the rating, the more young people will watch, and the more the networks can charged advertisers for showing their commercials. Thus, the networks have a powerful financial motive for mis-rating their programming, rating it lower than it ought to be and allowing more children to watch.

          And this is what they do. In study after study after study, the PTC has proven that the ratings the networks assign do not accurately reflect the content of the program. In fact, on the broadcast networks, every scene of graphic violence or explicit sex is rated TV-14, acceptable for 14 year olds. In other words, according to the broadcast networks, everything they show is okay for younger teens – absolutely nothing should be rated TV-MA, for adults only. This is like letting cigarette companies say in the warning label on their packs, “Smoking is okay for kids 14 and older.”

          Finally, there is the fact that the producers of entertainment should bear some responsibility for what they choose to push into every home. Saying “use parental controls” or “just change the channel” is a dodge that completely lets the producers of harmful products off the hook. It’s similar to the management of a pollution-belching factory saying, “You don’t like what we’re putting into the air? Then don’t breathe, or move somewhere else” – or a man walking around nude on a children’s playground telling parents, “It’s YOUR responsibility to be a parent! If you don’t want your children to see me naked, don’t let them look at me.”

          I do appreciate your taking the time to give your perspective so politely. Thank you for your comment!

    11. Andie
      March 5, 2014 at 1:40 am

      Maybe the rating codes should not be by age but by level of violence and use color coding. The age at which watching violence is appropriate is somewhat subjective. If the codes could be changed to indicate the level of violence, then people could decide what was appropriate for themselves and their children. The current rating codes assume that a person of a specific age is ready to watch that level of violence. But there are many adults that don’t want to watch to violence either. Of course, changing the rating codes might be another big challenge.

    12. Mark
      March 4, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Couldn’t agree with you more, while we don’t watch any of the shows listed the escalation of violence on TV and in the movies is at scary level. When our kids were at home we always used the parental tools available through our cable provider to block inappropriate content.

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