• When Hollywood Behaves Just Like Animals

    by  • October 2, 2014 • Television, Violence • 11 Comments

    StalkerSophia Bush, star of the TV series Chicago P.D. recently shared her story of being stalked and harassed by someone on Twitter.

    For the past few months I have been harassed to the point of sheer horror by an online stalker. This person has taken to harassing and bullying many of my followers as well.

    Sharing more than 500 screen captures of harassing messages on Instagram, Bush wrote:

    I’m sharing it here to make something very clear. This kind of behavior does. Not. Fly. You do not have permission to hide. Not anymore: This has gotten beyond out of hand…Obsessive. Violent. And legally punishable.

    Almost everyone has heard horror stories of celebrities being stalked by obsessive fans, of having to take out restraining orders for their own safety and the safety of their families, of finding their stalkers in their homes, or even in the tragic case of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, star of the ‘80s sitcom My Sister Sam, killed by their stalker.

    But it’s not just celebrities that are victims of stalking. In the United States, according to Bureau of Justice statistics, 3.4 million people report being stalked.

    And yet in Hollywood – where you would think there would be heightened sensitivity to this issue, “stalking” has gained some cache as an excellent theme for television shows and music videos.

    Maroon 5 this week released a music video for their hit song “Animal,” and it is the stuff of nightmares. (Song lyrics, by the way, include lines like “Baby, I’m preying on you tonight, Hunt you down eat you alive, Just like animals, Animals… Maybe you think that you can hide, I can smell your scent from miles, Just like animals, Animals.”) Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine plays a butcher who sees a beautiful woman (played by his wife, Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo), stalks her, becomes obsessed with her, breaks into her apartment, photographs her while she’s sleeping, and eventually follows her to a bar, where he approaches her and is rebuffed. He stands outside her window and fantasizes about having sex with her while blood rains down on them. These scenes are interspersed with images of him shirtless in a meat locker smearing blood on his torso and surrounded by sides of beef hanging from meat hooks.

    Is this creepy, stalker behavior is somehow supposed to be romantic or sexy? There’s no hint or suggestion that what he’s doing is wrong or illegal. There’s no clip of her picking up the phone to report him to the police. No squad car pulling up next to him to take him into custody. No courtroom scene where she tells the judge that she’s terrified he will hurt her. Just the denouement of their naked bodies in a passionate embrace, drenched in blood.

    All of this would be bad enough if it were an isolated incident, but it’s not. Last night, CBS debuted Stalker – which promises to be 22 weeks or more of similar imagery – assuming the series doesn’t get cancelled before then.

    The series premiere opened like this:

    A woman is in her car driving home.  She gets out of her car in the dark. She gets a phone call on her cell and a man’s voice says he sees that she got home.  She asks him to please leave her alone and hangs up.  Then she walks toward her front door and a man in a hood and a mask is standing in front of her door.  She screams and runs from him but he chases her and     pours gasoline on her.  She gets in her car but he has the keys and shows them to her while she is locked inside, covered in fuel, screaming and honking the horn.  He then douses the rest of the car in gasoline and lights it on fire.  She puts the car in reverse and rolls backward but the car is already on fire.  It crashes into a light pole and burns with her inside it.  Then the car explodes.  The killer stands and watches.

    Predictably, CBS rated this as appropriate for a 14-year-old.

    Stalker has already been widely criticized for what some are calling “torture porn,” and rightfully so.

    From the Hollywood Reporter:

    Let’s assume for a moment that I am the head of said Threat Assessment Unit. Here is my decree: “Warning, a really disgraceful television series depicting the pornography of terror is on CBS tonight and under no circumstances should anyone watch. This show poses a threat to your capacity to receive and shrug off incoming visual stimuli such as, say, women being doused with gasoline and lit on fire.”

    Do you get the message?

    After a premiere week of singing the praises of CBS’s ability to craft serialized dramas, I see Stalker as a potent reminder that when CBS goes wrong, it usually errs on the side of excessive violence, often toward women. Stalker is just such a swing and miss, as the network opts for something creepy rather than creative.

    Lauren Duca of Huffington Post says:

    Its premiere features violence so exploitative and gratuitous that even Quentin Tarantino might feel a bit uncomfortable if he gets around to watching the show…. It’s not that there can’t be violence in art (or even on crappy primetime cable shows that probably don’t count as art). It’s just that when there is violence it needs to be executed responsibly or those violent scenes will just serve to further perpetuate all of the evils they represent. After Wednesday night, the “Stalker” pilot is the only thing we should be trying to set on fire.

    From the LA Times:

    The problem with “Stalker” is not the violence, creepiness or depravity. It’s that the violence, creepiness and depravity appear to be the point, because nothing of value is offered in balance.

    Which might be acceptable if “Stalker” were trying to explore the meaning, message or causes of such unsettling themes. Instead, it’s just a clunky crime procedural attempting to leverage a newly acknowledged type of crime, committed mostly though not exclusively against women, with maximum sensationalism.

    Given the creativity and complexity of so much of television these days, a show this cynically conceived and constructed is, well, did I use the word “unforgivable” already? I’ll use it again. It’s unforgivable.

    Headlines about sexual assault on college campuses and violence against women and children have dominated the headlines in recent weeks; currently 76 institutions are currently under federal investigation for failing to respond to the needs of student rape victims, and the NFL has lost sponsors because of the off-the-grid behavior of its players.

    The PTC has documented disturbing TV trends about violence against women, including: a) Violence against women and teenage girls is increasing on television at rates that far exceed the overall increases in violence on television (from 2004-2009), and b) Violence towards women or the graphic consequences of violence tends overwhelmingly to be depicted (92%) rather than implied (5%) or described (3%).

    What we do know is this: A growing body of research has documented the desensitizing effect that exposure to this kind of messaging can have on the viewer. Sexually violent content in movies has been found to increase acceptance of violence against women, increased acceptance of rape myths and victim blaming. Other studies have found that repetitive exposure to movies that include sexual violence against women is associated with men’s increased enjoyment of the content, and girls who are exposed to these messages are more willing to accept harassment and abuse and men are more apt to believe such behavior is okay.

    CBS should be ashamed for green lighting such an exploitative and misogynistic series, and any advertisers that knowingly help to underwrite it should be likewise ashamed.

    Hollywood, it’s time to stop treating violence against women, and the sexual exploitation of women and children as entertainment.



    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.

    11 Responses to When Hollywood Behaves Just Like Animals

    1. Moax429
      October 15, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Never mind what Jonathan said, Sharlee. *You’re* right.

      People like Jonathan need serious medical attention if they think violence doesn’t influence impressionable young minds. How else would one explain such horrific tragedies as Columbine, Sandy Hook or Aurora, Colorado?

      • Jonathan
        October 17, 2014 at 11:49 am

        The ones who thinks violence influence young minds needs medical attention. I started watching horror films at the age of 10, and I have played some of the most violent video games out there and have never even thought of hurting someone. There are plenty of studies out there that prove that violence in movies, shows and games have no effect.

        There were murders way before today’s forms of entertainment. You are using what is on TV as a scapegoat for the real issues. No matter what the PTC and it’s members say and do there will always be these types of shows.

        • Moax429
          October 17, 2014 at 4:12 pm

          *Really,* Jonathan?

          Not if there are concerned people to do something about it.

          • Moax429
            October 17, 2014 at 4:16 pm

            Also, Jonathan, see this new article on the PTC’s blog:

            Exclusive Interview: Advice to parents on media violence

            Does that mean psychologists and other experts also need medical attention? I think *not.*

            Enough said.

            • Jonathan
              October 20, 2014 at 10:58 am

              I really couldn’t care less about an article on the PTC blog about violence, it’s going to be basied to support their agenda. I have read articles that show that violence in television has no long term effects. If violence in television had a real and powerful effect then everyone would be murders. The fact is the human race doesn’t need fake violence to comit real violence, we have been doing it long before TV, movies and Video games. The human race is the only species that kill their own just because they can

              What is ruining this country is groups like this thinking they can try and control everything just because they don’t like it. Another thing that is ruining this country is people like you who are overly sensitive about everything and want the world to be politically correct.

              This is the final this I am going going to say to becaus there is no point in auguring with people who think they know what is best for everyone. I am looking forward to seeing the PTC fail because there will always be people like me who are not scared to speak against this group. Like I said before there will ALWAYS be these type of shows.

            • Christopher Gildemeister
              October 20, 2014 at 12:35 pm


              We have to note the irony of someone coming onto our blog and claiming that “What is ruining this country is [people] thinking they can try and control everything just because they don’t like it,” when what you’re doing is, basically, thinking you can control what we say just because YOU don’t like it. If you don’t think you “know what is best for everyone” and “really couldn’t care less about an article on the PTC blog,” why are you bothering to post here?

              As far as the article being “biased” – yes, articles on the PTC’s blog do support the PTC’s position. Are you surprised? Maybe you think you’ll see articles on the Greenpeace website urging fishermen to hunt whales, or on the Sierra Club’s blog promoting the use of coal-burning power plants?

              Your claim that “if violence in television had a real and powerful effect then everyone would be murders” [sic] is a ludicrous straw-man argument, no different than saying, “If smoking causes cancer, then everyone who smokes would drop dead tomorrow.” Of course that’s not true; but it’s also true that smoking is dangerous to one’s health.

              Media violence may not directly cause violence immediately, but it does definitely influence people to become more violent, by desensitizing them to violence. Literally hundreds of scientific studies prove it. And so, for that matter, does common sense. Why do advertisers pay millions of dollars for a 30-second commercial on the Super Bowl, if what people see on television has absolutely no influence on their behavior?

        • moax429
          October 18, 2014 at 10:10 am

          Liberals like you are the reason this society has gone to pot.

          Enough said.

          • Rodo
            November 7, 2014 at 10:16 am

            Serial killer Ted Bundy said pornography is what influenced him.

    2. Sharlee Moore
      October 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm



      • Jonathan
        October 13, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        @ Sharlee LOL that is the funniest thing I have ever heard! So your are saying that people who write shows that you don’t like are evil and have no soul? Sorry but I write horror screenplays, I am trying to make movies and I can tell you that I am not evil. Hollywood is not to blame for twisted individuals who decide to murder and rape.

    3. Vicki Cassidy
      October 10, 2014 at 11:29 am

      I was completely appalled when I saw the tv ads for this ridiculous weekly series. It’s shocking to me that there are very few laws that can stop Hollywood/TV Networks from doing what they see fit to do in order to enhance their monetary wealth vs. the wealth of our children. It sickens me to see what they are allowed to do without any one to answer to. Outrageouly appalled at the lack of the networks capabilities to generate tv shows that can help children learn and grow vs. show them how to kill. Nothing creative or talented about tv these days. Just a bunch of empty headed employees trying to ruin our children’s minds.

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