Tv And Morals

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The biggest problem television programming has is that there are no morals. Few people today would be surprised to learn that sexual behavior is depicted more and more frequently on American TV. A study published in 1989 in Journalism Quarterly found that in 66 hours of prime-time network TV, there were in all 722 instances of sexual behavior, whether implied, referred to verbally, or actually depicted. Examples ranged from erotic touching to intercourse, masturbation, homosexuality, and incest. The average was 10.94 instances every hour! The United States is hardly unique in this matter. French TV movies depict explicit sexual sadism. Striptease acts appear on Italian TV. Late-night Spanish TV features violent and erotic films. The list goes on and on.

Violence is another type of TV immorality. In the United States, a TV critic for Time magazine recently praised the "grisly good humor" in a batch of horror programs.

The series featured scenes of decapitation, mutilation, impalement, and demonic possession. Of course, much TV violence is less gruesome"”and more easily taken for granted. When Western television was demonstrated recently in a remote village in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, one bewildered old man could only ask: "Why are whites always stabbing, shooting and punching one another?" The answer, of course, is that television producers and sponsors want to give viewers what viewers want to see. Violence draws viewers. Sex does too. So TV serves up ample portions of both of them"”but not too much too soon, or the viewers will be repelled. As Donna McCrohan put it in Prime Time, Our Time: "Most top shows go as far as they can with language, sex, violence, or subject matter; then, having gone to the edge, they take the edge off. Subsequently, the public is ready for a new edge." In...