Brought to you by the Parents Television
Shows Safe for Kids…Or Not?
BY CHRISTOPHER GILDEMEISTER
The PTC aims to constantly alert parents to TV
programming which might be considered offensive or harmful to young children in
the viewing audience. Certainly there is no dearth of such programming on
prime-time broadcast television today. But even those shows clearly intended by
the networks to appeal to families and children cannot always be considered
suitable. Many of the programs have concepts which most parents would
consider entertaining and safe for their children to watch; but these shows
almost inevitably fall short of parental standards during the actual episodes
example, there is the July 1st episode of NBC’s Celebrity Family
Feud. Airing at 8:00 p.m. ET, one would presume that this innocuous game
show, with a pedigree reaching back to the 1970s, would be acceptable for
children to watch. But one would be wrong; for on this episode, one team was the
“Girls Next Door” – a group of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner’s sleep-in
“girlfriends.” The opposition was the “family” of Sopranos actor Vincent
Pastore, which allowed Hefner to make a double entendre appallingly
inappropriate for prime time. Referring to Pastore’s TV show character, Hefner
said, “I think [the girls] are going to do very well against Big Pussy.” The
show went on to ask, among other questions, what one would expect to find on
Hefner’s bedside table. Hefner’s “girlfriends” smirkingly mentioned condoms,
Viagra and Playboy magazine. The July 8th episode of Celebrity Family
Feud continued the sexual theme, as it featured the leads of the
now-raunchy My Name Is
Earl against minor actors who play the townspeople on the same
show. All played the game in character, meaning that children in the audience
were subjected to individuals such as strippers from “Club Chubby,” with
“daytime hooker” Patty telling host Al Roker “No matter what happens tonight,
for you, ten dollars!”
But mere sexual remarks, though inappropriate for
kids, were as nothing compared to the demonstration that awaited children tuning
in to the July 1st episode of America’s Got Talent. Airing at
9:00 p.m. ET and hosted by TV sleazemaster Jerry Springer, the show hit bottom
when “performer” Busty Heart showed off her “talent”: crushing aluminum cans
with her gigantic breasts. What messages about body image and appropriate
behavior (let alone modesty) did the millions of young girls watching take away
from this supposedly innocuous talent program?
Even the simplicity of a program celebrating
dance is apparently not immune to the intrusion of questionable elements for
children. Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance on July 10th made a
point of airing Katy Perry’s song "I Kissed A Girl" in the 9 p.m. ET hour. This
song is of parental concern because of the lyrics’ explicit
endorsement of drunkenness and promiscuity:
“This was never the way I planned,
not my intention.
I got so brave,
drink in hand.
Lost my discretion
Its not what I'm used to.
Just wanna try you on….
No, I don’t even know your name,
it doesn't matter.
Your my experimental game,
just human nature.
It's not what good girls do.”
Seeing such otherwise child-appropriate programs
intruded upon by sudden (and unexpected) moments of adult content has certainly
caused more than one parent to cry out, “Why?”
This column was compiled from reports by the Parents
Television Council’s Analysis staff.