Nedstat Counter
Holding Hollywood Accountable


Welcome to Holding Hollywood Accountable

This Internet site exists to rally support for voluntary media and entertainment industry accountability in the wake of school violence and other disturbing social trends. Not only does television lead to desensitization toward violence, but when used as an "electronic babysitter" markedly decreases attention spans—a precursor to learning difficulty and delay in early childhood education. Moreover, the "boob tube" is a heavy contributor to America's "couch potato" epidemic, which imperils the health of young and old alike. Diabetes alone is now projected to strike one out of every three individuals within their lifetimes. Finally, even as bloggers' cries of "media bias" and "conspiracy" propagate widespread media distrust, the public's preference for televised news threatens to topple America's in-depth, broad-based and investigative print counterpart—the steadily declining daily newspaper.

"Hollywood's Children", below, is a commentary column written by the editor and publisher of an online magazine by the name of NewsView. The essay concludes with information on how to participate in an appeal to Hollywood sponsored by the nonprofit Parents' Television Council. Since this essay was first posted in 1999, PTC has evolved into a leading nationwide advocacy group founded to protect children from sex, violence and profanity on television. For contact information and supporting evidence, please scroll to the bottom of this page.


Hollywood's Children

by Diana Lynn

Are you frequently disgusted by television programming? Do you greet every new entertainment season with the thought, "Good grief, what kind of baloney will they come up with next?" When you tune into television news, do you suspect that a vast media conspiracy is underfoot?

You are not alone.

It's not simply that Hollywood's tired formula of sex, violence and idiotic humor has grown far too predictable. It's not just the increasingly explicit and violent nature of television that the right-wingers whine about. It's not just that Hollywood writers and producers are so out of touch with reality. It's not even something new.

Television's outrage factor has been rising since the day it was invented.

The "good" white cowboy fighting the "evil" red Indian taught Americans the "politically correct" way of perceiving minorities—and not just the ones from whom settlers captured the United States. The Amos 'n Andy show spread its own share of racial stereotypes, but America didn't care because producers have long known that they can preach just about anything as long as they can elicit a good laugh while doing so.

Racial stereotypes aren't the only attitudes television promotes. Television also transmits values about the type of lifestyle we ought to aspire to and the roles we should conform to. In the '50s, for example, many girls aspired to become homemakers. Today, many young women growing up in front of the television fantasize about how to capture the physical affections of the young leading male characters around which the relationships of young women portrayed in teen dramas typically revolve. This cliché teen drama format reinforces a subtle but dangerous messege: Namely, a woman's emotional and sexual worth are tied to a man's affections. Likewise, male characters are typecast as the violence-hungry bad boys of crime and law enforcement or, alternately, as clueless idiots who can't figure out what cough medicine to take without a woman's help.

Hollywood teaches us that climbing the social ladder in the right clothing and the right car is the only thing that counts in life aside from an obsession with sexual conquest and gratuitous violence. So whether life on screen makes us laugh, cry or yawn, one thing entertainment is not is neutral—and neither are we in response to it.

Despite a lack of innovative programming and Hollywood's condescending belief that all viewers appreciate edgy, formulaic entertainment that "pushes the envelope," the viewing public seems ready to lap up just about anything left in the toilet bowl of social discourse—as long as it's funny, suspenseful or titillating. But no matter how relaxing television feels going down following a hectic day at work or school, it is equally likely to leave a bad taste in one's mouth—as anyone who has spent a couple of sick days gazing at the tube can attest to.

Like the child who fears a monster under his or her bed after watching a horror film, many adults are also prone to view human nature in an increasingly distrustful and cynical manner after repeatedly filling the space between our ears with the sights and sounds of bickering talk show guests, angry litigants and the schemes of dysfunctional or shallow fictional characters.

Similarly, the rise of 24/7 television broadcast media—where news stories are treated topically, repeated frequently and given little in-depth investigation or long-term follow up—has sparked the decline in traditional print media readership nationwide. The result? Americans are exposed to a single-source diet of "fast food" style news, devoid of all nutritional content— not the least of which includes personal relevance, context and depth— a poor exchange for the ease of a 30-second soundbyte. In this regard, television’s mentally and emotionally dulling effect on the adult population is as disastrous as its effect on early childhood development. Exercising one's democratic and civic duty as a voter hinges on functional literacy of current events, both political and social. Ironically, television as a news medium—perhaps because lends itself readily to sensationalism— spurs skepticism toward all whom exploit it. The twin evils of wearied disinterest and knee-jerk suspicion, in turn, leave much of the American population apathetic toward and uninformed of the realities of life outside our front doors. In fact, by the time we reach adulthood, our "media filters" have been so worn down that our reactions to news differentiates little from our reaction to advertising or fictional entertainment. The constant bombardment by electronic media of all types throughout our lives not only fuels a sense of disjointed unreality but increasingly popular notions of a vast media conspiracy.

To make matters worse, what we ingest doesn't always stay down. For some, the lessons of life "As seen on TV" are regurgitated in the form of catty soap opera-like behavior, sexual harassment, crime, promiscuity, and a self-absorbed, shallow lifestyle that resembles a rerun of Jerry Springer.

Judging from the multi-billion dollar sales generated by the entertainment industry, the sheer popularity of the media indicates its propensity to wield more than its fair share of influence.

Statistics show that many Americans spend more time listening to the television set than communicating with their own family members and teachers. Consequently, many of us are children not only of our parents but of Hollywood. The question is, has Hollywood done all it can to be responsible with the power it wields—or has the entertainment industry become an increasingly vulgar, violent, coarse and explicit role model for generations of young Americans? With an increasing number of shows such as WWF Smackdown and South Park, the answer seems all too clear.

Violating the First Amendment in an attempt to legislate taste is not a valid solution. Yet freedom of expression need not become an excuse to exploit the lowest elements of human nature be through televised entertainment or voyeuristic "news". If enough people who have had enough raise their voices in protest and close their billfolds to Hollywood and offending program advertisers, a call for voluntary respect and responsibility will be impossible for media executives to ignore.



Action Alert!

If you feel that television is undermining American culture, join the Parents' Television Council appeal. Simply write your name, postal and e-mail address on a 3 x 5 card and mail it to:

707 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 2075

Los Angeles, CA 90017
Telephone: 213.629.9255


Fast Facts

The American Medical Association warns lawmakers of Mental Health Risks Associated with Television

American Psychological Association publishes 15-Year Study on TV Violence

What the American Academy of Pediatrics says about Media Influence

Television Creates Learning Problems and Attention Deficit Symptoms in Children USA Today reports

Media Awareness Network

TV & Brain Development


Is BabyFirstTV! Going to Rot Your Infant's Brain? Read From Crib to Couch Potato

A Nation of Violence

Children and TV Violence: Interpreting the research

Media Watchdogs

Our Media Voice
Campaign for Media Accountability

Center for Media and Democracy

Are they telling us the truth on TV news?
Annenberg Political Fact Check


Leaving? Don't forget to sign the Guestbook!