Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Corporate Greed, and the Entertainment Industry

I thought this was a very interesting letter written by Bob Sherman, who is the Director of the Chicago Chapter of the Parents Television Council (PTC).  He presented it to those Occupy Wall Street gatherers in Chicago who are very concerned about corporate greed.
IF YOU ARE AGAINST CORPORATE GREED, PLEASE READ THIS.  I am a volunteer for a national organization that is fighting corporate greed in the entertainment industry.  If you don’t think corporate greed in the entertainment industry matters, you will think again if you read the essay below.  


The profit motive is the fuel that drives our economy.  It is a high octane fuel.  It has given us progress, opportunity, and abundant wealth.

            But when it is controlled neither by law nor by moral restraint, the profit motive can turn against us in ugly ways.  History abounds with examples.  Consider for example the exploitation of workers, the cheating of investors, and the destruction of natural resources, all of which result from unbridled greed.

            When we think of the term “corporate greed”, we might think of the Enron scandal, the sub-prime mortgage mess, or the AIG bonuses.  But when placed in perspective, and viewed in terms of the harm done to people’s lives, these examples pale in comparison to a far greater evil.  I am talking about the culture of greed that has saturated the entertainment industry in general, and the broadcast industry in particular.

Broadcasting at one time was a responsible industry.  Broadcasters had a code of ethical conduct, designed to assure that broadcasting would serve the public interest.  But unbridled greed has relegated the public interest to the trash heap.  In the tradition of Ebenezer Scrooge, today’s broadcasters would say “Bah, humbug” if asked to live up to the code, a portion of which follows:  “Respect should be maintained for the sanctity of marriage and the value of the home.  Divorce should not be treated casually or justified as a solution for marital problems.  Illicit sex relations should not be treated as commendable.  Sex crimes and abnormalities should be viewed as unacceptable program material.”

            In the post-code era, material for television is chosen with one purpose and only one purpose, and that is to make money, as much money as possible, in any way possible, without the slightest regard to the harm the resulting programs are doing.  Broadcasters turn a deaf ear to the pleading of parents, educators, and child welfare experts.  As a result of their greed, here is how we might update the code:  “The sanctity of marriage and value of the home should provide material for humor.  Illicit sex relations should be celebrated.  Sex crimes and abnormalities of every conceivable type should be prominently featured”.

            Prominently featured?  You bet.  During a four week study period1, here is what children saw during prime time on major channels:  Masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, manual stimulation, bondage, kinky fethishes, incest, pedophilia, partner swapping, prostitution, threesomes, transsexuals, transvestites, bestiality, necrophilia, sex toys, and voyeurism.  As for the so-called “rating system”, none of the above was rated Mature.

            Children’s attitudes about relationships and life issues are largely formed by television.  What is television teaching them?  The same four week study revealed that marriage is consistently depicted as a burdensome trap.  Children are taught that people who live with a succession of sexual partners are the ones who lead a satisfying and fulfilling life.  They are taught that sex has little or nothing to do with marriage, that most sex takes place outside of marriage, and that adultery is just as common as marital sex.

            We should heed the warnings of psychologists.  Below the age of eight children do not think in terms of motive.  By the time they are old enough to realize that television programs are just entertainment, it’s too late.  Their attitudes about life’s most important issues have largely been formed.  As a result, we have seen an explosion in the number of single parent homes, with tragic consequences for individuals and for our society.

            Let’s take a look at some of the consequences:
Child abuse.  Abuse of children is 6 times more likely in an “irregular family”.2 
Crime.  72% of adolescent murderers grew up without a father.3  13% of juvenile delinquents are from a home with married parents, 33% from divorced or separated parents, and 44% from unmarried parents.4  70% of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single- or no-parent situations.5 
Disease.  In evaluating the degree to which a casual depiction of sex might be harmful, it is important to take into account the prevalence of sexual disease.  The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected.6
Domestic violence.  Abuse of women is 25 times more likely in an “irregular family”.2  This is a rather startling figure, but the author of this paper has not yet found any information to contradict it.
Drugs and alcohol.  Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk.7
Mental illness.  Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk.7
Poverty.  57% of black children living with mother only are in poverty, compared with 15% living with married parents.8
Rape.  It is estimated that between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5 college women experience completed or attempted rape during their college years.9  25% of college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape, 84% by an acquaintance, and 57% were considered date rape.10  60% of rapists grew up without fathers.3 
Suicide.  25% of sexually active girls are depressed vs. 8% of their peers.11  6% of sexually active boys attempt suicide vs. less than 1% of their peers.11  Sexually active male teens are 2 times more likely to be depressed and 8 times more likely to attempt suicide.12  Sexually active girls are 3 times more likely to be depressed and 3 times more likely to attempt suicide.12

How shall we deal with these problems?  Shall we sit back and let them happen, and then come along with a band aid in the form of more prisons, more shelters, and more services such as crisis counseling?  Why don’t we stop these problems before they happen?  The best way I know to do this is to support the Parents Television Council.  It’s quick and easy:

…then look for the Get Involved link on the left.

            Thanks for taking a moment to help others. 
--Bob Sherman

1. Parents Television Council, Happily Never After, 08/05/2008.
2. Prof. Maria Sophia Aguirre, The Family in the New Millennium.
3. Cornell, D. et al. Behavioral Sciences and the Law 5, 11-23
4. Wisconsin Department of Health & Social Services, Apr. 94.
5. Survey of Youth in Custody, Bureau of Justice Statistics.
6. NY Times 3/12/2008
7. US Dept. Health & Human Services, Center for Health Statistics
8. U.S. Bureau of Census Series P-60, no. 185.
9. National College Women Sexual Victimization Study (Fisher 2000).
10. October 2002 statistics study at the University of Tennessee.
11. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
12. Dr. Paul Warren, Behavioral Pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist, Dallas, Texas.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Send Your Warning to the Sponsors of Skins (Easy to do!)

"Nearly every major corporation has responsibly decided not to support the non-stop orgy of teen sex, drugs, and alcohol that is MTV’s Skins. All but Clearasil, that is. It’s not enough that Clearasil continues to buy ad time on the teen-targeted program that promotes such irresponsible, even dangerous behavior; in a cynical ploy to forestall criticism of their continued support, Clearasil publicly touted what turned out to be a PSA that only directed viewers to MTV's website and Clearasil's own Facebook page - neither of which gave any information about how to deal with the drug and alcohol abuse so pervasive in Skins.

Clearasil, and its parent company Reckitt-Benckiser need to hear from you.

If Reckitt-Benckiser believes a 30-second PSA can encourage pro-social behavior; they must allow for the possibility, even the likelihood that the surrounding 42 minutes of programming can encourage anti-social behavior. Which is why their continued support of Skins is simply indefensible.  MORE...


From Parents Television Council Website. 


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Letter to Dr. Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

This letter is too good not to share:


Saturday, January 29, 2011


As a mom, I am terribly concerned with what is shown on TV that our children can possibly get a hold of, even accidently.  That's why I joined up with Parents Television Council (PTC) and am their Associate Director of the Houston Chapter.

Right now, there is a show on MTV called "Skins" that maybe you have been hearing about on the news programs.  This show consists of teens as young as 15 engaging in sexual content which could be considered pornographic.

Please go to this website if you are concerned as I am.  You may want to write to the advertisers involved with your concern, because once the show has no sponsors it cannot continue.

The PTC is not a religious organization, and is not an organization that wants to censor.  What they ARE concerned about are shows that are shown during times that children may have a chance of watching.  You can go to their website for more information: