Parents have a tough job protecting their children from harmful entertainment – whether it’s in video games, on smart phones, or on television.
This past year has been no different. Hollywood continues to market explicit content to children. Hollywood continues to push sex, violence, and profanity into the entertainment children and families consume, but never takes any responsibility for any real-life consequences.
Hollywood’s hypocrisy can be seen in these documented trends:
- TV violence is increasing but celebs lobby for gun control
- TV execs rate explicit content as appropriate for children but tell parents to trust the TV ratings system
- Adults on TV speak crudely about sex in front of children
- Netflix promotes masturbation and child pornography
- Streaming giant ignores warnings of suicide contagion
The Parents Television Council has been on the front lines of keeping Hollywood in check and documenting the explicit content it markets to our children in these areas:
PTC Reveals TV Violence Has Increased
Following the tragic shooting in Florida in February, the Parents Television Council published a research report – Dress Rehearsal for Tragedy – that documented the volume and degree of graphic violence on prime time broadcast television. That report revealed that 61% of all prime time programming contains violence; and 39% contains gun violence. This is a sharp increase compared to data from five years ago (49% and 30% respectively). Every single program with violence and gun violence was rated by the broadcast television networks as being appropriate for children to watch.
That research report garnered widespread media attention; so much, in fact, that the PTC was invited to the White House to meet with the President and members of the entertainment industry to discuss the marketing of graphic violence to children. The PTC’s program director literally sat next to the President in the Cabinet Room and presented our case.
PTC Urges Leaders to Examine TV Ratings Reform
Following that meeting in the White House, the PTC leadership met with Senators, Congressmen and FCC Commissioners – both Republican and Democrat – to discuss the fraudulent and deceptive TV content rating system — and got pledges from representatives in both the House and Senate to investigate the oversight and administration of the TV ratings.
PTC Says TV Needs a #MeToo Moment
The Parents Television Council has also been waging an aggressive battle in Hollywood calling out the creative community for its unbridled hypocrisy regarding the #MeToo movement. Hollywood professes its support for #MeToo, yet every single night it airs programming that asks us to laugh at, and be entertained by, the very wretched conduct that triggered #MeToo. The sexually explicit, degrading, misogynistic, and demeaning program content frequently includes children in the scene.
In response to the #MeToo hypocrisy, the PTC published a research report – Lewd by Example – that revealed troubling data: 81.5% of all prime time broadcast TV “family comedies” contained instances of adults using explicit sexual dialogue in front of child characters. Every single program was rated as appropriate for children to watch, underscoring the important need for wholesale reform for the TV content ratings system and its failed oversight.
In addition to #MeToo, we believe there is an urgent need for #OurKidsToo. During the course of the year, PTC advocacy efforts targeting corporate advertisers helped to yield the cancellation of two sexually explicit programs – The Mick and Real O’Neals – both of which routinely included child characters in the most explicit scenes, and both of which were rated by the respective networks as being appropriate for children to watch.
PTC Takes on Netflix for Marketing Explicit Content to Kids
The Parents Television Council also opened a new battlefront against toxic programming on streaming video platforms that are marketed to, and consumed by, children. Netflix, in particular, has proven to be grotesquely irresponsible with its programming, including: a program (13 Reasons Why) that romanticizes teen suicide, and has led to children taking their own lives; graphic sexual violence on that same program, including rape and schoolchildren sodomizing another child with a broken mop handle; a film (Desire) that depicts a 9-year-old girl masturbating to an orgasm; and a cartoon (Big Mouth) that centers on the sexualization of pre-pubescent children, including jokes about pedophilia. Netflix is even marketing Big Mouth to children by using Facebook to engage them in a “masturbation game”.
The PTC has been very active on the digital media advocacy front, calling for Apple, Facebook and other tech companies to do more to protect children. We have partnered with numerous other organizations to publicly expose the harms of apps that are targeting kids, as well as engaging in numerous other advocacy campaigns.
PTC Reviews Best and Worst TV Shows and Warns Advertisers
As we do every year, we screened episodes of new television programming that the networks are airing this fall; and we ranked the best and worst programs for family viewing, offering guidance for concerned parents about programs that are suitable, or unsuitable, for their children. One of the worst new shows this fall season, which airs on NBC (I Feel Bad), lost 19 of the 20 advertisers we’ve contacted thus far about their sponsorship of the program. The show has included graphic sexualization, including a woman who asks her young male coworkers if she “is still doable”, and has portrayed 9-year old children in sexualizing situations. If we can maintain this pressure on the sponsors, the show will either have to clean up or the network will have to cancel it.
PTC Exposes Hypocrisy of Broadcasters
We are waging a campaign to prevent the FCC from eliminating the 3-hour per week requirement that broadcasters air children’s educational programming. Broadcasters say it is a burden. We are fighting to protect the only time block on broadcast TV that is truly safe for kids. PTC filed a public report with the FCC that exposes the dishonesty of the broadcasters who have already turned primetime into a toxic environment of sex, violence and profanity.
PTC Fighting for Filtering Technology on Streaming Platforms
We are campaigning for legislation that would allow families to filter out explicit content when they stream movies and television programming. The Family Movie Act Clarification Act must be passed by December 31st. Industry lobbyists are fighting to kill it, even though it would mean more profit for Hollywood. Why would an industry fight to kill a measure that would bring them extra revenue? Because they have an agenda to push explicit content, and that agenda is more important to them than increased profit.
PTC Partnered with Pure Flix to Bring “Little Women” to Theaters
The PTC continued to focus on its “4 Every Girl” Campaign, which advocates for healthier media images of girls and young women; and we partnered with Pure Flix to bring a film to theaters nationwide (Little Women) that embraces the 4EG mission. Please look at www.4EveryGirl.com and learn more.
We thank you – our members and supporters – for helping us to achieve our goals and fulfill our vision for a safe and sound entertainment media landscape for children and families. We look forward to continuing our mission in 2019!