So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show?
Brought to you by the Parents Television
Do NOT push play if you don't want to see the explicit video!!!
Rating: TV-14 DL
By Caroline Schulenburg
The Fox network airs more
than its fair share of public service announcements for TheTVBoss.org, a website
which promises to “put parents in control” of their TV set. At Fox, they believe
that the use of parental controls will magically guarantee that only
age-appropriate programming free of graphic violence and sexual content will
find its way into living rooms across America.
However, if parents actually
count on the Fox network for any cooperation in protecting children from
explicit content, on November 27th they were sorely disappointed.
That night’s episode of the
forensic drama Bones was rated TV14 DL. No V descriptor indicating
violent content was present in the show’s rating, despite the fact that the
episode contained several gruesome depictions of a department store Santa Claus
brutally murdered and left to rot in a sewer.
Before the opening credits
have even rolled, we find agent Booth, Dr. Saroyan and Bones standing over the
sewer and pondering the state of the dead Santa.
Bones: “The rats got to
Saroyan: “The huge bacterial count and unseasonably warm weather explains why
the rats found him so digestible.”
Lying in the sewer, Santa’s
corpse is covered with trash and maggots. His face appears to have been gnawed
off by the aforementioned rats. But it’s not violent, you see. Fox’s rating says
so. This sight – coming in the program’s opening minutes, at the very beginning
of the Family Hour -- was certain to put any channel-flipping children who
stumbled across it in a festive mood.
In the next scene, Bones and
her colleagues examine the corpse further. On a table, the decaying Santa is
laid out in his entire gory splendor. “There is copious insect activity from the
sewer!” exclaims a delighted Hodgins as he makes his way around the corpse with
tweezer, looking for bugs that might help him figure out where Santa was killed.
The rest of the scene entails Bones and her colleagues irreverently discussing
the origins of the Santa myth.
Maybe the creators of
Bones think that because the murder victim was jolly old St. Nick the show’s
stomach-churning imagery is somehow less noticeable. Maybe they think that
because the murderer was also another part-time Santa Claus the entire crime is
somehow less brutal.
But whatever the convoluted
logic behind the decision that this program was not violent may be, it simply
furthers the argument that the lack of a standardized and consistent ratings
system renders parental controls totally useless.
If you agree that this program was inadequately
rated, please write to the TV ratings advisory board at
firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know that the TV
ratings once again failed to adequately warn parents about inappropriate
For more information about the TV ratings,