I stumbled on this article over at CNN. Okay, I didn’t really stumble on it, I read the Entertainment section over there a couple times a day and the picture of Emily Deschanel drew me in. First off, she’s cute. Second, she plays the lead on the TV show “Bones” that I happen to enjoy a great deal.
Anyway, the article points out that during the last week in September, if you watched all the shows broadcast by the six major networks in primetime, you would have seen 63 dead bodies, which is an increase over the 27 dead bodies in the same week in 2004. Frankly… so what?
I really don’t know alot of true couch potatoes, people who will watch anything that’s on TV with no regard to its quality. Most people I know watch a handful of shows or more, but if a show is sub-par they’ll stop. They may give it a few extra weeks hoping it gets better, as I often do myself, but can only take being slapped in the face so long before they walk away. That said, if people watch a show, it must be what they want to see… as long as its not grossly inappropriate (showing snuff films and real rapes to five year olds) why should anyone care what people watch?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making “good, quality” television for the whole family, but I’m also very strongly for parental responsibility. Any kid who watches a TV show that his parents aren’t aware of or haven’t viewed themselves needs more parenting. If I had a kid, he probably wouldn’t be allowed to watch some of the shows I do, or at the least he’d have to watch them with me and I’d make sure we talked about any subjects that come up.
Here is a nice little quote from the article:
“Yet the PTC, which frequently files complaints with the Federal Communications Commission about network fare, admits that its focus has primarily been on sex, not gore. One reason is that there’s no government agency concerned with these issues, said Melissa Caldwell, the PTC’s research director.”
And it makes me ask, “Do we need a government agency concerned with these issues?” If there is something I don’t want to watch on TV, I won’t watch it. If there is something I don’t want my kid to watch on TV, I won’t let my kid watch it. The one thing I really don’t want is some tax funded agency that I pay for and have little to no control over deciding that I or my kids shouldn’t be allowed to watch a show. I think the government has gone about as far as it needs to in mandating that all TVs had to have V-chips in them to allow the blocking of TV broadcasts based on TV ratings. One the other side, I think the TV networks need to expand the ratings, make more levels and divide them up. Don’t just rate a show TV-MA because its violent or because it has other adult themes, rate the show TV-MA-Violence or TV-MA-AdultThemes, and then have the monitor software allow me to say, “You know, my kids can deal with all the sex on TV that can be thrown at them, but I don’t want them watching TV-14 or higher level violence.” or even “You know, guns and sex are okay, but no bad language in this house.” Basically, give me the tools to be as arbitrary as *I* want to be, but don’t try to force someone else’s arbitrary ideas on me.
TV to some extent, and movies to a large extent, need to take a look at the computer game industry ratings and head that direction, and all of them need to keep going, providing more tools for parents and other people. Then we just need to courts to come in and start legislating personal responsibility by throwing out any case where someone watched TV or a movie or played a game and accidentally saw something they didn’t want to see because they forgot to use the tools provided to them.
Yeah, it sounds nice… but I won’t be holding my breath…