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Parents group criticizes heavy sexual content on TV


On a recent episode of the CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men," it is implied that Jake, the teenage son of Alan's character, is having threesomes with some of his female classmates. Like everything else in the raunchy sitcom, it is played for laughs and no actual sexual acts are depicted.

Not laughing, though, is the Parents Television Council. The Los Angeles-based nonprofit media watchdog group which has made a business out of monitoring television content, released a study Wednesday blasting the broadcast industry for sexualizing teenage girls.

“The results from this report show Tinseltown's eagerness to not only objectify and fetishize young girls, but to sexualize them in such a way that real teens are led to believe their sole value comes from their sexuality," PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement. On a conference call with reporters to discuss the study, Winter said the issue of sexual content and its effect on teenage girls and children needs an "intense spotlight."

The report focused only on broadcast shows and not cable TV, movies or magazines. PTC looked at the top-25 shows among viewer 12 to 17 and then analyzed the amount of sexual content on them. Shows that stood out, besides the above-mentioned "Two and a Half Men," include the CW's "Vampire Diaries," Fox's "Glee" and CBS' "Big Bang Theory." Not on the list was the CW's racy "Gossip Girl," but that's because the show is not among the top 25 with teens.

Asked why PTC doesn't focus on cable or movies where there is as much if not more content that might be considered inappropriate or risque for kids and teens, Winter acknowledged that those channels also need scrutiny. He expressed particular concern about the upcoming MTV show "Skins," a remake of a British hit about sex- and drug-obsessed teens. He said he was not ruling out looking beyond broadcast TV for future reports on sex and kids.

"TV executives have made it their business to profit off of programs that depict teen girls blissfully being sexualized by casual partners," Winter said.

Broadcasters often make for an easy target vs. movies, cable TV and magazines because unlike other media they are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission and their advertisers are sometimes more susceptible to pressure from advocacy groups.

According to the report, underage female characters were depicted in a sexual manner far more often than adults and only 5% of those depictions showed the character expressing any form of "dislike" for being sexualized. The PTC looked at sexual innuendo, "erotic kissing" and "erotic touching," "implied intercourse" and "implied nudity" in making its assessments.

"Clearly there are inherent dangers in having a cultural milieu that accepts and encourages this sexual contradiction of encouraging underage girls to look sexy, yet realizing they know very little about what it means to be sexual."

Winters said the PTC was not looking to single out any particular show, network or producer with its report. It said it wants to make parents more aware and the creators, performers and distributors of the shows more understanding of the "magnitude of their influence." The goal, Winter said, is to "spark a new national dialogue."

TV Watch, a group whose backers include CBS, NBC Universal and Fox parent News Corp. said in a statement that, "parents understand that all programing is not for all children and, according to polling conducted solely among parents, take seriously their efforts to ensure their children view what is appropriate based on their age, taste and values. What is increasingly difficult to take seriously, is a patchwork of studies characterized by vagaries and omissions, apparently intended to raise money because the group has the word 'Parents' in its name."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: The CW's "Vampire Diaries," which was singled out by PTC study on sexualizing teen girls. Credit: Quantrell Colbert/CW

For the record: This post was corrected to reflect that the PTC is now based in Los Angeles and updated to include a statement from TV Watch, an organization whose supporters include several broadcast networks, reacting to the study. 


Comments () | Archives (13)

TV today is all about sex and violence. You can't watch anything but folks are going to bed or making sleezy jokes about sex. And just try to find a channel that doesn't have a show with detectives finding murdered raped women or blood and guts or an autopsy. The American taste for crudity and blood has never been higher. Thankfully I can turn to great books and READ. Unlike 99% of most Americans, I actually take the time to read a good book and shun ridiculous shows. Too bad more of us don't turn off the boob tube. What a perfect name for it.

I would love it if their report had any kind of positive effect because most parents are not home to monitor what their kids are watching.

I would love for some more wholesome shows to come on..maybe then we'll get cable again. For now it's old movies and tv shows that we get from Netflix.

Nothing sexual with Ricky & Lucy (they even had separate beds!) but funny just the same! Same with "The Honeymooners" and anything related to the original Twilight Zone series.

There are lots of ways to make TV shows entertaining without all the sex and gore.
Too bad our network executives are not smart enough to push those shows through.

No imagination out there in Hollywood anymore.
Psych and Monk are pretty good w/o stepping over the line sexually (although I could do without the dead body scenes) . Bring on more of that quality "new "programming!

folks...it's real easy...if it offends you...CHANGE THE CHANNEL!!!!!!

WTF leave vamp diaries alone. 0: You crazy adults LOL, it's a great show full of hot guys and not evil sexual content. I hate party poopers, just because these people aren't getting *(sex LOL) at home they wanna ruin the fun for us LMAO

tvd rocks and *this message was approved by the hotness that is Damon Salvatore* :)

It seems today that all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.

Why are these people so afraid of sexuality? If we had a proper education program in our schools there would be a consequent reduction in unwanted pregnancies and other sexual problems. Keeping kids in the dark won't protect them in any way. Small minds always look to repress knowledge, but this particular knowledge not only will be acquired soon enough, but would also enhance the quality of their children's lives and make them more complete human beings.

Dear Parents Television Council,
Dear ALL,and I mean ALL, which is unheard of,
Dear ALL AGE GROUPS. the kind of show that has Grandmother with Grandchild, parent, tweenie, teenager, young adult, children, and seniors, etc. in front of the TV.

Who gave the so called "parents television council" authority over US citizens? Who elected them to decide? No one. They have no right to tell anyone what to do. There are hundreds of channels, parents can find any kind of program on TV, from right wing to left, and everything in between. It's called free choice. We refuse to accept the yoke of conformity because you decided to have kids.

turn the tv off. or just get rid of it.

what am i missing here? i watch 'big bang theory' religiously and have yet to find any sexual content that could be deleterious to youngsters who by the way know more about sex than probably we do!!

I am not a parent but I agree with this report. Haven't you noticed how many teens are pregnant nowadays? Yes, you can blame the parents but I think TV is a big influence on children. If not on TV, then on billboards, rap, rock music. There is no escape from smut.

Here is a *FANCY* idea, how about if you don't like the show.. turn it off.. get it blocked from your tv.. or *wait for it* ACTUALLY PARENT YOUR OWN CHILDREN about *WHY* its bad. I don't blame rap, tv, or anything. I blame the parents who don't take responsibility for their own children. Sure, blame the schools. Blame society. Whatever, but in the end its still in YOUR house. Ridiculous.

/end rant.

I have been reading some of the posts that say.."parent your own children" or "just turn off the tv". And I agree that some parents are not taking their jobs seriously when it comes to tv, internet, etc. However, do you realize that sex is everywhere. Don't look at it from an adult's perspective...look at it from a child's! We were watching the superbowl game. We're talking football here. I have 3 sons...what do you do? SEX is everywhere! Every single advertisement from the beginning of the game until the end.

Try walking into the grocery store. What is right next to the M&M's, and Snickers? Trashy magazines!

How about billboards?

The point is...YOU CAN'T GET AWAY FROM IT. By the time a child is 15 how many sexy images do you think they see?

I am fed up with it! And no, I am not sexually repressed. I just don't want my 10 year old son watching some stupid Adam Sandler video clip which has a woman in a bathing suit with big, wet boobs. I mean really...is this necessary?

If you are an adult and want to have sex..have it. If you want to masturbate ..then do so. But stop ADVERTISING it everywhere. And let's allow our children to be children!!!


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