04 December 2011
MA for Mature Audience: Too Risqué?
“Oh, how the times have changed”. This simplistic cliché describes modern situations concerning television perfectly. On might hear, “When I was your age, there were only thirteen channels on television; heck, only half of them worked. The other half showed a gray fuzzy layer over ghostly figures of people”. Boy, have the times changed. After about thirty-five short years there are over a thousand channels available to any given satellite or cable subscriber. They can be offered in high definition, or even in the third dimension. Not only has the quality of TV changed, but also the content viewed by the average individual in American society. There is an unmistakable shift in the tolerance of obscenity-- whether the lenience is in the language usage or it is in physical contact between people. The level of indecency on television has escalated over the years and should be censored in moderation. After exploring a brief history of TV, the primary causes and the effects of indecency on television, a focused solution will be offered. First of all, what is accepted as indecency or obscenity should be discussed. It can be anything from bad language or sexual content to violence. Subject matter can also be classified as obscene if it alludes to rape, murder, different sexualities, etc. Obscene content was an apprehension even when color TV was 16 years of age. In 1969 George Bernard Shaw [playwright and critic] was asked what he thought of television, “he retorted with typical Shavian wit and precision—‘I don’t know; I’m afraid to look” (Self-regulation…). If it was of concern then, imagine how far it has gone now. The growth of the television industry throughout its history has boomed (through the end of the 20th and into the 21st century). As unbelievable as it sounds, television at one point was rather lifeless. Shades of gray complimented the white spaces of a lit up, glass, convex screen inside of a large, wooden box. If the antennas were not positioned just right then the picture and sound would turn into “snow”. Now there is a color spectrum as far as you can imagine; TV can be found as a plasma flat screen mounted up onto a wall. The way a person views a show is not the only thing that has changed. Since then, the content found in programs has transformed. When television started out, characters could not be filmed lying in bed together. Take the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy for example: In the beginning years of the show, Lucy Ricardo and Ricky Ricardo’s beds were on opposite sides of the room. It was not until after they had a baby they pushed the beds together. Even then, the sides of each bed were tucked in creating an image there would be no physical contact. It seems like the little things had a domino effect and now television has spiraled into virtually limitless entertainment. In modern television there are things that would not have been remotely considered appropriate sixty years ago. There is a television show called Reba staring Reba McEntire. Reba Hart is single mother of three children who divorced her husband for cheating on her. Her eldest daughter (Cheyenne Hart) was on the varsity cheer squad and dated a quarterback (Van Montgomery) on the football team. Before her senior year, Cheyenne found out she was pregnant. Van and Cheyenne got married and nine months later the couple popped out a baby girl. Reba allowed the teenagers to stay in her home while they finished high school. Unlike Ricky and Lucy, they shared a bed. Now, it is thought-provoking to know Reba is a very mild show compared to today’s standards. The League. In 2006 it was said, “As writers of cable and satellite programs have ‘pushed the envelope’ to see how far they can go with obscenity, critics have termed programs everything from ‘tacky’ and ‘in bad taste’ to ‘raunchy’ and ‘suffocating sewage’...
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