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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Every Child Doesn’t Need a Lazy Family Values Parent

posted by on September 8 at 13:37 PM

The Parents Television Council, a right wing media watch dog group, has issued a report decrying the fact that the traditional family TV hour, the first hour of prime time TV, is not safe for kids.

The right wingers at PTC find that Fox is the worst offender.

Some of their findings:

There were 677 sexual scenes or spoken sexual references, an average of 3.76 per hour.

Well over half of all programs (54.8%) contained sexual content.
Since 2000-2001, the amount of sexual content during the Family Hour has increased by 22.1%.

CBS experienced the largest increase in sexual content since 2000-2001, from 0.34 to 2.31 instances per hour – a 579% increase.

ABC had the most sexual content with 5.97 instances per hour.

The War at Home (Fox) had the highest frequency of sexual content of any program with 33 instances per hour.

And they write:

We found that the Family Hour has become increasingly laced with sex and violence. Along with scheduling adult-themed shows like Bones and Desire for the Family Hour, we also found the networks taking graphic and explicit shows that had originally run in later timeslots, like Grey’s Anatomy and C.S.I., and re-airing them during the Family Hour.

The report goes on to blame the commercial interests of broadcasters and scolds broadcasters for lacking in corporate responsibility.

The PTC has every right to criticize broadcast television and call for fellow conservatives to put economic pressure on broadcasters to change their ways (which the report does). But I gotta say, I love it when right wingers eschew personal responsibility and whine.

Indeed, there’s a great response to the report in City Journal (an urban policy magazine), that A) dings the PTC for living in the long-lost era when prime time TV broadcasting was even relevant … and B) more importantly, slams the family values crowd at PTC for being delinquent parents.

By explaining how the media and technology revolution of the last 20 years has made it easy for parents to actively provide their kids with appropriate and educational stuff to watch, the City Journal article basically nails these conservative “family values” whiners for being lazy, uncreative, delinquent parents who rely on throwing their kids down on the couch after dinner and having Fox TV baby sit.

From the article:

In light of these marketplace realities, let’s return to the question of who killed the broadcast TV family hour. The answer: parents like me! Armed with all these new viewing options and technologies, parents, not broadcasters, now determine the content of the family hour and when it will take place. We no longer have to sit down at 8:00 each night to be spoon-fed our daily dose of family-friendly fare. For example, in our home, my wife and I have designated one television for most of our children’s video consumption, and we use a DVR to amass a large library of programming that we believe is educational, enriching, and appropriate. We can catalog and archive dozens of programs and supplement them with VHS tapes, DVDs, and computer software. When we allow our children some TV time, we know that they’ll be able to watch our preferred episodes of Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go, Blue’s Clues, and The Wiggles.

Technological empowerment will spread and benefit parents even more in coming years. Comcast Corporation, the nation’s largest cable provider, conducted a poll last year of its most aggressive VOD and DVR users and found that 85 percent indicated that they “always have appropriate shows available for their children to watch.” Moreover, 65 percent said that they “have fewer conflicts about what to watch on TV,” and 63 percent said that they “watch more television as a family” thanks to the tools.

Needless to say, families didn’t have such content tailoring and viewer empowerment in the past. The PTC seems stuck in that past, though, when it sees a national crisis just because some TV broadcasters fail to air enough family-friendly programming at 8:00 each night. I happen to agree with the PTC that not all of the programming shown on broadcast TV at 8:00 PM is appropriate for my children. But like millions of other parents, I can now take matters into my own hands.

Again, the PTC has every right to criticize broadcast TV, but my advice to the family values crowd at the PTC is this: Spend less time whining and start putting some energy into your parenting.

p.s. Oh, and, ha ha ha, you lost the culture wars.

RSS icon Comments


I don't think I was allowed to stay up past 8 until I was at least 10 years old. Until what age to children have to be protected, even from PG content, and why aren't parents guaranteeing their little ones a good night's sleep?

Posted by keshmeshi | September 8, 2007 2:02 PM

I didn't even know there was a "family hour." Because growing up, we didn't sit down in front of the TV at a designated TIME, but rather watched specific SHOWS. Even back in the day, you could control what you watching by, you know, checking the TV guide.

Seriously, ever time I hear people whine about TV I want to shake them and scream, "TV IS OPTIONAL! You can turn it off! If you don't like it, turn it off!!"

Posted by exelizabeth | September 8, 2007 2:17 PM

Maybe the reason the "Family Hour" has disappeared is because family friendly tv is incredibly boring for anyone who is over the age of 12 or not under the influence of a mind altering substance.

The funny thing is that there is more children's programing available now then ever before. Many entire channels are dedicated to cartoons, educational programming, or the drivel put out by nickelodeon. Not to mention that DVR's and cable boxes allow for parental controls and channel blocking. Its quite easy to both nejoy adult fare and keep it away from your children, while ensuring that Blue will always have help finding his Clues.

Perhapses the PTC should spend their time educating people about such things instead of counting swears and boobies.

Posted by Giffy | September 8, 2007 2:25 PM

i grew up in a stable, loving household where we watched a lot of tv together, but for some reason the term "family hour" gives me the fucking creeps.

Posted by douglas | September 8, 2007 2:37 PM

These people value tradition over anything else. They're so stuck in their ways that if they can't turn on channel 4 and watch wholesome family programming like they remember seeing when they grew up, then it means everyone else's values have declined.

Posted by jamier | September 8, 2007 6:12 PM

In my family, turning on the TV was something we did when we were sick of each other's company and didn't want to talk.

Posted by elenchos | September 8, 2007 6:23 PM

(1) I turned off my TV one day in 2003, and haven't watched it since. This option solves the whole "family hour" crisis entirely.

(2) I know I'll burn in hell for this, but I used to totally have the hots for the Blues Clue guy.

Posted by SDA in SEA | September 8, 2007 6:43 PM

@7, ME TOO!!! You mean Steve, right? I happened to start watching that when some relatives were visiting with their kids, and kept on watching.

Posted by rb | September 8, 2007 6:49 PM

Television is one of the most democratic institutions in America, and highly meritocratic. The best television shows are rewarded with viewership and money, and the networks that put forth the best programming are rewarded with much money. What these dicks have to realize, in addition to all the stuff about technology making their concerns irrelevant, is that Americans want television that reflects real life to some degree. I mean, imagine references to sexuality on television. Unless I'm in a business meeting, cock is gonna come up probably way more than 33 times per hour. I also swear like a sailor, and aside from that Evangelical I used to work with, everyone else I know swears quite regularly.

Posted by Gitai | September 8, 2007 8:46 PM

but wait a second....I agree with everyone's comment so far but you're all ignoring the fact that here is a Republican organization which wants its members to boycott real money-making companies because the companies are not engaging in socially-responsible behavior. Isn't that what Democrats have been crying for? Maybe it's a subversive pleasure I have, but to watch a bunch of money-heads cause money pain to companies seems to be a good thing, irrespective of the "reason." Especially if the companies are doing all this just to make more money - which is true. Instead of quality, and therefore costly, programming, we have the video-game TV program of the moment - and all the different network variants, including such schlock as reality shows on the Home and Garden Channel? For Pete's sake, TV is a wasteland and has been for 40 years. Cable is the new wasteland and its vaster and wider and deeper but it's nearly as sterile. More and more it's just games straight or creative computing - movies, music, blogs. We're weaning ourselves of TV, so I wouldn't worry too much. But it still feels good to see money-grubbers losing their grip.

Posted by chas Redmond | September 8, 2007 8:50 PM

Fault line found in Republican Party between family values religious conservatives and corporate free market greed heads.

Film at 11.

Posted by elenchos | September 8, 2007 9:20 PM

Don't have kids, problem solved.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to watch a show about a woman who sells pot in suberbia.

Posted by Brandon h | September 8, 2007 9:24 PM

All channels need to play Little House on the Prairie, all day, all long.

Posted by Jude Fawley | September 8, 2007 9:29 PM

My parents were 45 and 40 when I rather unexpectedly came along, so I was treated almost as an equal - at least when it came to things like bedtime and TV.

I would sit up and watch "The Tonight Show" with my dad, and old movies with my mom. I'd take drink orders when their friends came over, and sometimes even mix their cocktails. I had absolutely no restrictions on what I could read, and would talk with both my parents about whatever books we were reading at the time.

They didn't care when or if I did my homework, as long as I didn't bring home any unpleasant surprises at the end of the semester.

Despite this seemingly hands-off approach, they were wonderful, supportive parents who I knew I could count on when the chips were down. The idea of a "family hour" would make my mom roll her eyes and my dad sigh heavily, but yet we did things as a family all the time. The closest we ever came to any sort of "wholesome" tv viewing was when we'd come home from school and watch the sitcom reruns that were always on from 3-5pm: Dad would come home from work, he and mom would each drink a PBR, and then we'd have dinner.

There was never, ever, ever TV allowed during dinner - we couldn't have watched anyway, as dinner was in the kitchen, and we only had the one TV, which was in the living room.

Oh, and no phone calls during dinner. If someone called, you had to cut it off and tell them you'd call them back. They were very strict about that, even with their own calls.

Sorry for the trip down memory lane, but these modern parents with their ridiculously stylized ideals of parenting are so tedious. People have been doing it for 10,000 years, and most of that time without TV.

Posted by catalina vel-duray | September 8, 2007 9:51 PM

That's hilarious, as Dominic's brother writes for The War At Home. Go Holden boys! Corrupt those youth!

Posted by NaFun | September 8, 2007 10:09 PM

I never knew Grey's Anatomy was explicit!

Posted by arandomdude | September 9, 2007 12:29 AM

Personally, I hate gratuitous sex, violence, and cussing on television. If I wanted to watch sex, I'd watch porn, not stupid tv stuff. I do something radical when that crap comes on-I change the channel.

Posted by mla | September 9, 2007 6:17 AM

If you like Steve Burns (from Blues Clues), he actualy makes music now. Checkout the album "Songs for Dustmites."

I saw him play live both in SF and in Seattle. He's awesome!

Posted by Dono | September 9, 2007 11:27 AM

My 6 and 9 year old never ever watch ABC, NBC, or CBS. Why should they? It has nothing to compare to Disney Channel, Nik and Cartoon Network.

Catalina: I liked your trip down memory lane. I have a vision of you as a younger, hipper Judith Martin (Ms. Manners). Your story completely dovetails with that vision...

Posted by Big Sven | September 9, 2007 12:06 PM

Wait, families spend time with each other?

Posted by Carollani | September 9, 2007 9:18 PM

god, we live in such a fucking decadent and overpriviledged society that we actually sit around and count the number of times someone says damn in a sentence! it is fucking unbelievable!

Posted by Kristin Bell | September 10, 2007 12:04 AM

My problem is with comercials on television- when I find a pretty tame show for the kiddo and I to watch on a Sunday early evening suddenly a comercial will come on for an R rated horror movie and the kid shreiks and covers his eyes- luckily he's pretty resilient and bounces back with little to no nightmares from the inadvertant slasher flick commercials but that's what bothers me- even when you select a show that you think will be appropriate to watch together it is usually the ads that that worry me!

Posted by NELBOT | September 10, 2007 8:57 AM

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