• When TV Urges Us To Root For The Killer

    by  • May 29, 2014 • Movies, Television, Violence • 5 Comments

    This past Friday, while an emotionally disturbed young man was on a murderous rampage on the grounds of the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus, NBC was showing a man being disemboweled by a serial killer, and a woman’s throat being graphically slit open for “entertainment.”

    Haven’t we seen enough real-life bloodshed and senseless violence? Why, just months after Newtown, did the broadcast networks see fit to debut not one, not two, but three new dramas with serial killers as the protagonist?

    Dr. Park Elliott Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist and criminologist who has consulted or testified in many of the highest profile US criminal cases, including Jeffrey Dahmer, the Unabomber, and the Beltway sniper, has said “We’ve had 20 years of mass murderers throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media, if you don’t want to propagate more mass murderers… Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story, not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.”

    But that’s exactly what the networks are doing. They’re making psychopaths out to be heroes. Evil is good and black is white. And while we’re not trying to draw a direct connection between what happened at UCSB and Hannibal – there is, to be sure, no direct documented connection that we are aware of — the social science on the connection between media violence and real world violence is overwhelming.

    NBC recently announced that they are renewing Hannibal for another season, despite consistently low ratings. Already the show has been moved to Friday nights, where the networks put low-performing shows. And although Hannibal debuted with respectable ratings – 4.36 million viewers – it finished its second season with only 2.35 million.

    Over the next few months, advertisers will be making millions of dollars in ad commitments to the networks. It’s time for those advertisers to consider whether the content on Hannibal is consistent with the image they are trying to project.

    If they endorse gruesome violence, bloodshed as entertainment, and ruthless killers as heroes then that’s the message they will be sending when they buy ad time on Hannibal.

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    About

    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.

    5 Responses to When TV Urges Us To Root For The Killer

    1. BJ
      June 1, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Something needs to be done. The programming on all the major networks is sickening. When you sit down in the evening to want something encouraging and uplifting, all you see is psycho things, people being tortured and gory scenes not fit for any adult. Then we wonder why all we see in real life is criminal activity. Our young people are involved in sick crimes and unbelievable acts. Let’s try to change the programming to encourage good. The programs we have on tv now are just mind games we don’t want any part of. We are watching less and less tv. That will continue unless we have responsible programs to watch.

    2. Jim Healey
      May 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Disgusting!! Boycott these advertisers!!

    3. Pat Miller
      May 30, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Our family very rarely watches network TV anymore. It is just too gross. Stop supporting this – remove your sponsorship and be responsible please.

    4. Tim Willetts
      May 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Censorship would require that a person or committee decide what will be censored. There’s nobody that I know of in politics who I would trust with that kind of power.

      Think of someone who actually wants the job of deciding for us what we can view, or for that matter, what we can hear, or read. Would you really trust the judgement of someone like that?

      Censorship leaves too much potential for abuse, because the government could eventually decide that criticizing its policies is “immoral”, or “decadent”, or “trash”. Every right that we give up makes it that much easier for the government to take more. We’re close enough to a police state now as it is.

    5. Vincent Maola
      May 30, 2014 at 5:43 am

      Saw ad for 48 Hrs. Showing a man who cut up his girlfriend. We see it all the time on TV..every nite, every hour. Why are we so outraged?
      Isn’t it time for CENSORSHIP? Obviously, the networks will NEVER police themselves.

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