When I watch television today I can’t help but think of how different it is compared to when I was a child. From commercials to movies, it is obvious that standards for acceptable programming have changed. Violence and sexual content seem to be at an all-time high, even during the day on soap operas and talk shows. Parental guides and locks have become an extremely advertised feature for most cable/satellite companies. Children are being exposed to more inappropriate behaviors and adult oriented situations then ever before.
Commercials are a general part of television. Just about every station and program on television broadcasts commercials regularly, so you would expect them to be innocent and prepared for a general audience. However, as most people would tell you, “sex sells.” A commercial for one brand of cologne features girls running after men purring and growling. A commercial for a cell phone shows a man and a woman physically fighting in a subway station. Almost every lipstick commercial uses “kissable lips” as a reason for buying their product. Even commercials for hair removal products make sure to inform the consumer of how “touchable” and “sexy” their legs would be if they used their product. Adult videos advertise by showing clips of their tapes that include, but are not limited to, girls flashing the camera with very little of the picture blurred or blocked out. One thing I know is that if I had children, I wouldn’t want them to see half of the things I’ve been exposed to by commercials on television.
Television programs have begun showing more inappropriate behavior as well. Partial nudity is now allowed on many channels and many programs. In the days of Elvis Presley the camera stayed above his waist because the way he thrust his hips when he danced was considered obscene. Today, many music channels play music videos showing girls pole dancing with men throwing money at them during prime time television hours, when TV should be suitable for all ages. I remember watching I Love Lucy when a married couple slept in two separate beds as opposed to today where couples are shown nude and having sex. If you tune into some popular talk shows, you can hear language and phrases that would’ve never been acceptable ten years ago. It seems as though swearing is perfectly acceptable now, no matter who is in hearing distance. Think about Leave It To Beaver when heck was a dirty word. Often, programs that are aired live have a hard time with people slipping up and cursing with no one to edit it out before all of America has the chance to hear it. Twenty years ago every show on the air was thoroughly edited prior to being broadcasted.
Many television stations air movies, whether they are movies made for TV or not. Years ago the only movies aired on television were made to be family oriented. Now, rated ‘R’ movies are allowed on many channels that anyone with basic cable has access to. These movies often contain nudity, profanity and violence for anyone to see, including children. It used to be standard for anything even mildly risqué to only be aired past 9 p.m. on most channels, now-a-days you can catch them at 5 p.m..
Many people argue that the content aired on television today is perfectly acceptable, and a part of the free speech all Americans have a constitutional right to. I, however, can’t help but to disagree. It is easy to say that until there is no violence on the news there is no point in limiting violence in entertainment, but I believe the entertainment children are exposed to could have a long-term negative effect. What if this is the reason so many young Americans have grown up to think there is nothing wrong with being violent? Television simply is not what it used to be. What once was harmless entertainment made for families to enjoy together has become a household danger.