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 spansa 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 counterpartthe 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.
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
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
Television's outrage factor has been rising since the day it was
The "good" white cowboy fighting the "evil"
red Indian taught Americans the "politically correct"
way of perceiving minoritiesand 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
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.
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 neutraland neither are we in response to it.
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 discourseas
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 mouthas
anyone who has spent a couple of sick days gazing at the tube can
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.
the rise of 24/7 television broadcast mediawhere news stories
are treated topically, repeated frequently and given little in-depth
investigation or long-term follow uphas 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, televisions
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 mediumperhaps 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.
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.
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 wieldsor 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
Leaving? Don't forget to sign the Guestbook!