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By Katherine Kuhn

 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on NBC (10:00 Eastern)

Rating: TV-14

 

With a TV-14 rating, a parent does not expect a scene of a rape, and then an intense discussion of the rape—all before the first commercial.

 

Lawyer: “Anna Bentley.  My client suffers from arousal parasomnia. It’s a real disorder.  He had sexual intercourse with Christy McGarrett while he was asleep.”

 

Dan: “Look, Rachel knows about my condition, okay?  She loves it.  She says when I’m asleep it’s the best sex she’s ever had.”

 

The discussion of the rape continues outside of the interrogation room:

Detective: “Dan’s attorney is right. We can’t charge him with the rape.”

Detective Stabler: “If it looks like a rape and acts like a rape…”

Detective: “It is a rape, unless the accused is unconscious of what his body is doing.  It’s like a sleeping mother who rolls over on a baby. Her body did it, but her mind wasn’t aware of it.”

 

How does the prolonged discussion of an “accidental” rape warrant a mere TV-14?  If this content isn’t enough to warrant at least the “D” descriptor, representing suggestive dialogue, what about the discussion of a virtual world where Rachel, the missing girl, and her friend, Ginger, created characters that are prostitutes and strippers? 

 

Detective: “She’s Vixie, you’re Tawney. Sounds like a couple of strippers.”

Ginger: “Actually you’re close.  Rachel and I use A.Y. to explore our fantasies.”

Detective Benson: “What kind of fantasies?”

Ginger: “We own a couple of virtual sex clubs.”

Detective: “How do avatars have sex?”

Ginger: “Same way as humans do.  Only in A.Y. it’s animated.  I’ll show you.  Here’s me and Vixie entertaining a couple of dates.”

 

The virtual world and Rachel’s “business” is shown.  The business is called “Vixie Platinum’s Underage Wonderstage,” where the viewer can see Rachel and Ginger’s internet personalities spanking men who are bent over chairs.  As Ginger’s personality whips one of the men, the man can be heard saying “Yeah!” creating the illusion that he is excited by this act.

 

Ginger explains to the detectives that their virtual characters can have sex just like in the real world.  According to Ginger the sex is “…safe.  Sex for money with no risk of STD or getting pregnant.  We're not hurting anybody.”

 

Just because a scene is animated and shown over the internet does not make it exempt from correct ratings.  If this scene involved real people, a woman spanking a man for his sexual pleasure and her receiving money for it, it would most certainly warrant the “S” descriptor—but clearly the industry continues to hide behind animation.

 

This episode featured a depiction of a rape, an extended discussion of the rape, a discussion of a virtual world where people live out their sexual fantasies, the depiction of animated characters spanking men for pleasure, and yet had no “S” or “D” descriptor.  How were parents supposed to know this content was in this episode?  How are parents expected to use the V-chip when content like this doesn’t even warrant the “S” or “D” descriptors?  Parents cannot use the V-Chip to protect their children from offensive content when the industry consistently misrates their programming. 

 

If you agree that this program was inadequately rated, please write to the TV ratings advisory board at tvomb@usa.net and let them know that the TV ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate content.    

 

For more information about the TV ratings, please visit http://www.tvguidelines.org/contact.asp

 


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