Well, the self-congratulatory glitter of Oscar night has come and
gone, and I am not going to add to those moviegoers who have already
shelled out more than $76 million to see "Brokeback Mountain," or
$53 million to see "Crash."
I do not feel especially culturally deprived. At least I have not
had to listen to the 92 profanities that the Family Media Guide says
litter "Brokeback Mountain," or the 182 expletives in "Crash," 99 of
which are utterances of the so-called "R-rated" curse word.
Hollywood excuses all the profanity, violence, and sex it
routinely offers up because it says it must portray life as it
actually is. To do less, say its producers and directors, would be a
travesty and a prostitution of the cinematographers' art.
In many years in the newspaper business I've been exposed to a
fair amount of bawdy language, but I can't remember an occasion on
which anybody managed to infuse 90 minutes (the length of an average
movie) with 182 expletives.
I suppose we should be grateful that none of this afflicts the
eyes and ears of young children - say between ages 5 and 10 - who
presumably are not being taken to see such movies. Alas we would be
wrong and naive to come to such a conclusion. According to the
Parents Television Council, children in that age group are getting a
big dose of violence, bullying, name-calling, bathroom humor, and
sexual innuendo on television, on cartoons, and on children's
programming designed uniquely for them.
A PTC content analysis of children's television for the 5 through
10 years age group last year found that there were 3,488 instances
of violence in 443 hours of children's programming surveyed. That is
an average of 7.8 violent incidents an hour.
The survey released last week, called "Wolves in Sheep's
Clothing," says that too often we dismiss violence in children's
programming as inconsequential. "Violence in cartoons is nothing
new, but what has changed is that violence has become ubiquitous,
often sinister, and in many cases, frighteningly realistic."
Parents often take it for granted that children's programs are,
by definition, child friendly. Unfortunately, says the PTC, this
faulty assumption has led many parents to let their guard down and
allow their children to spend hours watching television
The children's watchdog TV organization cites studies that show
exposure to TV violence is "positively associated with aggressive
behavior in some children. …