Censorship: What Is Best For Our Children? Essay, Research Paper
The movie industry became a big hit in America after 1910. These movies were silent movies so therefore; we didn’t have the problem with vulgar language. The first spoken movie was in 1927, called The Jazz Singer. At that time, the movie industry was so worried about keeping his or her audience happy and didn’t want to offend anyone. That we didn’t have the problems that we have today. In 1922, William H. Hays founded the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. This organization, which later became the Motion Picture Association of America, established a code to make sure that all movies produced in America followed certain moral standards. Foul language, nudity, the use of words that had sexual overtones to them, and the depiction of various forms of sexuality and violence were all banned from films. These rules called “Hays Code” were followed by the movie industry for thirty years. By the 1960’s times had changed and audiences were more willing to view the kinds of things that had been banned by the Hays Code. Therefore, in 1966, the Hays Code was dropped. In 1968, the Motion picture Code and Rating Program replaced it. With this program, moviemakers voluntarily gave their movies one of four general ratings: “G” for general audience, all ages admitted; “PG” for parental guidance suggested; “R” for restricted audience, with no one under 17 admitted unless accompanied by an adult; and “X” for no one under 17 admitted at all.
Television came about in the 1950’s. Unlike the movies, the government regulates television because it is transmitted over the airwaves, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission. The reason for this is because there are only a limited number of frequencies that can be used for broadcasting and the Federal Communications Commission controls the rights to use them by issuing licenses to television stations. Under this law, these licenses must be renewed every three years. At the time of renewal, the Federal Communications Commission reviews the overall performance of the television shows. The Motion Picture Code and Rating Program needs to be reconsidered for the best interest of the children.
The first reason the Motion Picture Code and Rating Program needs to be reconsidered is because some television shows including talk shows and cartoons should be censored because the sex and violence these shows portray are having detrimental effects on children. The First Amendment to the United States constitution was adopted in 1791, and it states that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press (Stein 01).” However, there are some written materials and speeches that are not protected by the First Amendment. The number one problem in television today is obscenity. Many people are offended by vulgar language. Vulgar language should not be allowed on cable television. Another problem is pictures showing sexual situations. Children do not need to be subjected to this type of television.
The second reason the Motion Picture Code and Rating Program needs to be reconsidered because many children in today’s society are affected by television. Brian Siano says, “children spend hours watching televisions unreal colors and how their fantasy lives are affected by weirdo’s (20).” Children are affected in many different ways. Think of all the different types of shows and movies that can hurt them. Some children become more aggressive as a result of watching violent shows portrayed on television and in movies. For instance, James P. Comer, M.D., is a Maurice Falk Professor of child psychiatry at Yale University’s Child study center and author of Maggie’s American Dream. He states that there is a correlation between the viewing of violent material and aggressive behavior; that regular viewers behave more aggressively than occasional viewers (Boyd 01). Studies also say that during a three-hour time slot, on Thursday, between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, when most viewers tune in, almost one-third of the network and basic cable programs contain violent scenes in 1997. The most common shows that I know of on Thursday nights are Friends, Sienfeld, and ER. The shows may be appropriate for adults, but not children. Many children are not put to bed before these shows are on. Therefore, children are subjected to sex and violence just on those three shows alone. Children are also affected by many day- time shows. Think of all the talk shows on television now. Jenny Jones is the woman who loves to do makeovers on freaks, and has people do stupid stuff on national television for a date. Sally Jesse Rafael, who always has people on there with serious problems, either with their family or something about their life. Rena Leblanc states, “what previously would only have been revealed in the confines of a therapist’s office, under the shield of confidentiality, now is a folder for a jeering studio audience and viewers across the nation (150).” Jerry Springer, the number one talk show. His shows consist of transvestites, the Ku Klux Klan, gay lovers, cheating husbands and wives, and the list could go on and on. He also shows all the fighting that goes on. There also is a big problem with daytime Soap Operas. To name a few: Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, and the Bold and the Beautiful. Analysis showed sexual activity in more than one in five scenes. Soap Operas basically show it all, from sex to violence. Sex and violence tends to teach children that it is desirable, necessary and painless. This can be very detrimental to a child.
The third reason the Motion Picture Code and Rating Program needs to be reconsidered is because children can not distinguish the difference between television and reality they develop a new sense of reality. That is the real problem in today’s society. Researches found that nearly three-quarters of violent television scenes contained no remorse, criticism, or penalty for violence and bad characters go unpunished in 40 percent of the programs (Peabody 01). Another big problem is cartoons. Children will sit down for hours and watch all different kinds of cartoons. Some parents think that it’s all right for children to watch cartoons without monitoring what they see before hand. Many parents would be very surprised at the sort of concepts their children are dealing with. Young children are not oblivious to what’s around them. Children are incredibly observant and perceptive.
Due to various reasons stated above it is very necessary that the Motion Picture Code and Rating Program to be reconsidered. Many parents don’t know what their children are watching and don’t have the time to monitor shows. Other parents may not care. Many families have both parents working. Therefore, the children are put in day care centers or home care providers. I feel this reconsideration would be in the best interest of our children. I also believe that parents should take responsibly for the programs their children view. Child experts, concerned about children watching violent television programs without adult supervision, gave these tips.
Children should not spend more than ten hours a week watching television and playing video games. Plan with your children what programs they will watch during the week. Be alert to signals that children will give to indicate they don’t understand or like a program, such as turning away from the television. This will tell you that the program needs to be explained or that the television should be switched off. Offer children alternatives to watching television, such as reading, playing games or helping with an activity. However, with a more effective rating program that has the interest of children in mind, the burden on parents would be significantly less.
Leblanc, Ren D. :Media’s Littlest Victim.” Women’s Day. June 1997: 150. Internet. EBSCOhost. October 4, 1998.
Peabody, Alvin. “Glamorized Violence on Television Continues To Pose A Serious Risk to Children.” Gannett News Service. April 1998: 97. Internet.
Siano, Brian. “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.” Humanist. Vol. 54 (1994): 20. Internet.
Stein, Richard. Censorship: How Does It Conflict With Freedom? New York: 1995.