“Fade whatever is left of the family hour,” said the story. “It’s about to get even racier out there.”
When it comes to primetime television, the gap between what’s in the public interest and what will profit private sector just got a whole lot wider. I’m not sure whether to be unbelievably discouraged or just patiently ambivalent. Either way, change is coming to network television and it won’t be good. Even if it does well.
Elizabeth Guider’s post tells most of the story, which is good since it not only appears in the Hollywood Reporter, but on Yahoo, MSNBC and CNN as well. (Doesn’t anybody else cover this stuff? Oh well, that’s another post.)
At a time when F-bombs are increasing, nude scenes (with blurring) are becoming more acceptable and sexual acts are displayed explicitly (save for a well-placed obstruction or creative camera angle), the FCC’s attempts to crack down have been overturned by liberal appeals courts whose members either don’t care about child development or don’t know much about it.
“Primetime TV this fall is going to be chock-a-block with even more blatant sexuality and raunchy language,” goes the story. “It’s a trend that’s been a long time coming and is now accelerating.”
Ms. Guider went on to name some of the recent lowlights (my word) for what’s been going on in primetime. “The CW has been upping the quotient of sexy goings-on on ‘Gossip Girl’ and its updated ‘90210’; CBS turned a blind eye, as it were, to a contestant caught topless on ‘Survivor’ with the naughty parts blurred. And now we’re bracing for couples doing it on ‘Friends With Benefits’ on NBC; Kathy Bates smoking pot on ‘Harry’s Law’ (and she plays a lawyer!), also on the Peacock; and a CBS sitcom starring the irrepressible William Shatner titled ‘$#*! My Dad Says.'”
And this is what our kids get to watch. We not only don’t live in Kansas anymore, Toto, we don’t even live in the United States, at least when it comes to family entertainment. The networks don’t want to lose the kids to Facebook and YouTube or their own iPods, so they’re turning up the titillation. There used to be a time when that was called “R-rated movie.” I don’t blame those at the networks for wanting to increase their audience share, nor do I fault them for wanting to work with clear standards.
But in a culture that has seen many a famous person–from Picasso to Michael Jackson–seem to suffer crazy adulthoods due to lost childhoods, we apparently haven’t learned our lessons. And for young people who don’t have the gifts to make it famously as those I just mentioned, the lost childhood factor still goes with them, and they become our future parents and leaders.
So that is reason #1 for why this is a bad thing. But also will come reason #2: no matter what your view on this, network television will eventually become irrelevant if there is nothing to distinguish it from the kind of unregulated smut that anyone can find anywhere on the web or at the video store. Which means that network television will win a short battle but lose the war and then we’ll lose what was a wonderful resource for a household that at least remembered what it was like to gather together.
I see a wonderful opportunity here for those who want to make family entertainment and/or spiritually-based entertainment. Rather than protest, I hope that more and more faith-based people with media skills will choose to win back the primetime audience with a product families will tune in to. And they’d better hurry, because time is short.