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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Monday, February 7 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Sexualizing culture, 2: teens

Though I had given up on following any "Christian broadcasting" by the time my ministry moved to Stanford University (1972), in 1988 an esteemed colleague and near-lifelong friend was launching a Christian newspaper and asked me to join him as its editor. That was the same year Pat Robertson ran for President, so on the urging of my friend and now employer, I did a crash course on the 700 Club. I'd heard much talk about it before this time and even knew some people who had been interviewed on the show, but I figured it would be a holy roller version of Phil Donahue. It turned out to be much better on both counts, by my reckoning, and before long I was convinced that Robertson would be no worse as President than Reagon, or his predecessor Carter, or Reagan's successor and Robertson's victor, George Bush 41 (recently there's a fad of calling him "41" because his was the 41st US Presidency and he is not, technically, "George Bush, Sr.").

All this is to introduce the fact that for several years I was a regular viewer of the 700 Club. And one anecdote I heard Pat Robertson tell several times was that a returned military officer who had been seated next to a high-level television programming executive at a banquet was disgusted by a statement that executive made, to the effect of a boast that when the military man had gone overseas (to Vietnam, I believe) his network's programming standards wouldn't allow the showing of a couple in bed together, even not touching and fully clothed in pajamas. But by the time the officer came back stateside, the network was featuring shows with teen boys talking about procuring condoms to have sex with their girlfriends. Pat told the story for the same reason I now repeat it: it's a succinct and bold synopsis of how programming standards on TV have eroded from its early years by the mid-1970s and ever since.

It's arguable that television is more a reflection of the mores of the society it serves than it is an originator or source of those moral standards. But if you recall where we left off on Friday, that often-valid opinion is irrelevant to the influence television has had on our younger generations since the medium came in strong in the Belsano I was describing last time. Even if it is reflecting the values of our current adult generation, it is still sexualizing children who know nothing about sex and are best served staying innocent of it as long as possible (not to mention the advantage such innocence provides the society at large). But even the commercials on late afternoon television when small kids back from school are likely to be watching are now more sexual than anything my generation had access to when we were in first and second grades.

So to make a long, long leap from 1950's I Remember Mama and 1951's I Love Lucy to current MTV...last week, the "Parents Television Council blasted MTV as 'smut peddlers'...accusing the music cable network of targeting young viewers with oversexed programming. The PTC found fault with the teen-targeted network based on an examination of 171 hours of programming that aired the week of March 20 last year, during its annual 'Spring Break' celebration. The analysis, contained in a report titled 'MTV Smut Peddlers,' spotted 13 sexual scenes per hour in MTV's reality series, as well as 32 instance of foul language per hour in its music videos. 'There's no question that TV influences the attitudes and perceptions of young viewers, and MTV is deliberately marketing its raunch to millions of innocent children,' PTC president L. Brent Bozell said."

I fully concur with this assessment. I've long since gone from being a fan of the early MTV to not being able to stomach it for even a few minutes of late. But the kids who should most pointedly not be able to see it are the ones most likely to do so. And to add insult to injury, this is what MTV (an operation of Viacom, the parent also of CBS and UPN networks and many other cable channels) gave, in part, as their response to the Parents Television Council: "The report underestimates young people's level of intellect and sophistication."

In other words, they may as well be saying, "we have spoiled and debauched them; they're ours now, and you can't have them back."

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Classic Hollywood Squares, last of series

If you remember The Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this will bring a tear to your eyes. These great questions and answers are from the days when "Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous! Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?

A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?

A. Charley Weaver: His feet

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?

A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh.?

Thought for today

To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind.

Seneca, (c. 54 BC - c. 39 AD)  
Roman rhetorician

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