29 August 2011

Quick comments on the PTC's new cartoon study

(note: page numbers refer to the printed ones not the ones you enter in at Adobe Reader)

The PTC today (I believe so) came out with a new study (summary) Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter. Basically that report attacks Cartoon Network for not rating its Adult Swim programming (9PM-6AM) properly and for marketing rated-R and TV-MA programming during TV-PG rated programming and worrying about teenagers (12-17 year olds) watching it, especially the TV-MA-rated Robot Chicken, which according to Nielsen Media Research is the 8th most watched animated cable show among that age group (p. 5). Well first of all why are they watching it in the first place when it's rated TV-MA and in first 3 time zones of the US after 10PM? (the show is scheduled at midnight Eastern and Pacific, 11PM elsewhere on cable, and on satellite providers carrying the East Coast feed times may be earlier.) As I look through the study the study provides examples of Family Guy, American Dad, and King of the Hill, episodes of which originally aired on primetime on the Fox broadcasting network. While PTC panicks over sexual content they claim is on TV-PG rated programming the only example of TV-PG programming as such is King of the Hill. Googling the PTC website, PTC rates King of the Hill with a mild "yellow light" rating but otherwise I can't find any other analysis of that show when it aired on Fox from 1997-2009. The examples of Family Guy and American Dad, both Seth MacFarlane-created series, usually are rated at least TV-14-DLS and were after 10PM, and many of the sexual examples had an S indicator in the content rating. The majority of the language examples had L indicators. The "male rape fantasy" example, an episode of American Dad, was rated TV-14-DSV (p. 23). If anything this study indicates the need for parents to be responsible for their kids TV viewing, and that the networks go out of their damn way to warn parents, and the PTC is essentially bullying and thinking the ratings system is too damn light. I mean ever since 2005 or 2006 I've seen TV networks putting the ratings box up after every commercial break not just at beginning of programs, and the Turner-owned networks TBS, TNT, and Cartoon Network have enlarged them. Same with NBC and Viacom-owned nets like MTV, VH1, and TV land. And while PTC may be worried about such content, they should be thankful that the content ratings warned them.

As for the drug content and references to crystal meth (such as in King of the Hill) (p. 24), well why didn't PTC raise a ruckus about that when King of the Hill was originally on Fox? And Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" from the late '60s referred to cocaine yet I don't hear parents groups calling the legendary American country musician as a bad influence on children. What PTC is advocating in my opinion is that kids just watch preachy ABC after school specials and anything that makes their over prudent hearts bleed should be rated TV-MA. Go to the parentstv.org website and notice how their traffic lights rating system is a notch over what the networks recommend. The yellow-rated shows are "recommended for 14 and up" (TV-14 in the TV Parental Guidelines) and usually are applied to the TV-PG rated shows like The Office. The red-rated shows are recommended for 18 and older only but are usually for the TV-14 groups.

Further, this blog post by the right-wing Little Green Footballs (a blog that sometimes deviates from the US conservative establishment message) rips apart PTC founder Brent Bozell's new column that supplemented this study. Bozell continues lying and deceiving as he usually does in his occupation advocating right wing talking points as he doesn't point out how the Robot Chicken episode he was talking about was shown at midnight (enter any show in the Zap2It.com listings and there you can see when shows air).

No comments: