Friday, October 21, 2005

Sex Ed Pt II: The Parents Television Council

Welcome to the Parents Television Council, the organization responsible for generating 98% of all FCC complaints about television -- especially since the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction". Considering who we're dealing with, it's always fun to see their "best" and "worst" list. Their "best of" list is one show short since Touched with an Angel went off the air. (Apparently, the PTC can only find nine shows worth watching with their families.)

In their press release, they mention shows to watch without being "caught by surprise by overly filthy dialog and graphic sex and violence". Sure, sometimes television producers go over the top, but in a world where in the PTC's eyes *every* *single* *other* program is bad, is it possible that maybe these parents should be looking at their own problems with sex? This is a market that doesn't want sex education taught in schools, or if it is, it's abstinence only. (Their answer to sex? "Don't".) This is a market that would love birth control and all the problems associated with sex to go away. They won't acknowledge problems with AIDS, HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, high teenage pregnancy rates, and certainly not abortion -- and forget discussion of sexuality and alternate lifestyles. Guess what, Indiana, I'm speaking to you.

It seems as if the PTC believes that if we stop all exposure to sex, it will go away. It's as if they believe teenagers will put those raging hormones to rest. They're are offended! But what's offensive to me is parents putting their own misguided sensibilities ahead of protection of their own children. Parents have to talk to their kids about sex. They have to talk to their kids about STDs. They have to talk to their kids about birth control, and they have to talk to their kids about the consequences of pregnancy. If they don't control the flow of information, their kids are going to get the information from another source, say, out of the locker room, off the internet or from their boy or girlfriend, often incomplete or just plain wrong. Let me give you an oh-so-familiar scenario: Conservative parent doesn't talk to teen daughter about sex, certainly doesn't talk to her about birth control, but does let her date. Teen girl likes teen boy, teen boy talks teen girl into sex, teen girl gets pregnant and parents a) blame her, b) don't believe in abortion, c) let her ruin her life before it's begun, or d) feel so personally disgraced they disown her. Whether or not you believe any of the above is right or wrong, you can't deny that any one of the above is a life changing event -- and not for the better. Where in this scenario is it about what's best for the teen girl and not about the offended sensibilities of the parent?

Just so you realize I'm not arguing that TV should be all sex all the time, or that sex on TV will solve anything, I have to point out that what really gets my goat is the fundamental hypocrisy that keeps the PTC in business. I wonder if it's because somewhere along the line, conservative Christian parents began to feel that if the information was available and open, it was condoned. If you talked about it, it was encouragement. Every parent knows it's about the limits you set for your children. If you educate your child and make them aware of your expectations, teach them values and good decision making skills, you have to hope you've armed them with the right tools. If you're more concerned they might hear a sexual comment on TV (and, gasp, ask you a question aout it!), then I'm guessing you probably haven't been as open with your kids about what you expect. Sadly, mom and dad are too busy calling the FCC about dirty jokes on Family Guy, and lamenting that Dancing with the Stars won't be on next week.

Thus endeth the rant.

Here's that pesky list of PTC best/worst shows:

BEST
1. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC/8:00 Sunday - Returning show
2. Three Wishes NBC/9:00 Friday - 1st season
3. American Idol Fox/Returning in spring
4. The Ghost Whisperer CBS/8:00 Friday - 1st Season
5. Everybody Hates Chris UPN/8:00 Thursday - 1st Season
6. Reba WB/9:00 Friday - Returning show
7. Bernie Mac Fox/8:00 Friday - Returning show
8. Dancing with the Stars ABC/Returning in spring
9. 7th Heaven WB/8:00 Monday - Returning show
10. Not available.

WORST
1. The War at Home Fox/8:30 Sunday - 1st Season
2. The Family Guy Fox/9:00 Sunday - Returning show
3. American Dad Fox/9:30 Sunday - Returning show
4. The O.C. Fox/8:00 Thursday - Returning show
5. C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation) CBS/9:00 Thursday - Returning show
6. Desperate Housewives ABC/9:00 Sunday - Returning show
7. Two and a Half Men CBS/9:00 Monday - Returning show
8. That 70s Show Fox/Returning in November
9. Arrested Development Fox/8:00 Monday - Returning show
10. Cold Case CBS/8:00 Sunday - Returning show

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