Question: What do you get if you take a healthy dose
of profanity, mix in some mindless violence and add in a large amount of unrealistic
Answer: Modern entertainment.
Question: What do you get if you take a healthy
dose of profanity, mix in some mindless violence and add in a large amount of
Answer: Modern entertainment.
Indeed, as a series of recent studies show, popular
entertainment these days is full of gratuitous violence, rude and crude language
and sex without consequences.
And just in case one may think the mix is limited
to a particular form of entertainment, it most definitely is not, the studies
point out. One can find it in films, broadcast television, cable television
and music videos – all rather disturbing amounts.
The bar definitely has been lowered when it comes
to what is presented for American enjoyment these days – and the impact on society
is frightening to consider.
As one may guess, modern media is awash with
sexual imagery, a recent study by the Center of Media and Public Affairs notes.
The study of sexual content was the last of three looks at the state of modern
media by the Washington-based agency.
“It is hardly news that sex is a staple
of popular entertainment,” the study notes. “What is surprising is
how pervasive sexual material is today, how graphic its portrayal has become
and how openly it appeals to what was once called prorient interest”
The center’s study found sexual content is featured
once every four minutes on network television, three times every four minutes
on cable shows and one and one-half times every minute in music videos.
All in all, the study examined 843 pop culture
products – movies, television shows, music videos – and found 5152 separate
scenes containing sexual material.
About two-thirds of the scenes (63 percent) consisted
of visual images ranging from nudity to simulated intercourse. The rest appeared
in dialogue or song lyrics. Most of the scenes (72 percent) could be classified
as “soft-core”, leaving the remaining 28 percent to fall into the
“hard-core” category involving images or language related to sexual
activity and such.
As expected, most hard-core material on broadcast
television involved language, while the “sex central” designation
fell to the premium cable market and its visual display of nudity and sex, the
However, the study also points out that music
videos contain more sexual material than any other form, bombarding young people
with image after image.
But it is not just the amount of sexual content
that is of concern, the study adds. The way it is being presented also is disturbing,
it notes. “One of the most striking things about the portrayal of sex…
is how rarely it has any consequences for either the participants or any other
For instance, of more than 3,000 scenes showing
sexual activity, only eight pregnancies resulted. Not a single case of a sexually-transmitted
disease was presented.
Indeed, in 98 percent of the examined scenes,
sexual activity had no physical consequences. ********************
That in 85 percent of the scenes, sex was not associated
with positive or negative emotions beyond the sensation of the moment. Sex was
tied to negative emotions – such as regret or guilt – just 7 percent of the
“The absence of emotion and physical consequences
was in keeping with the non-judgmental attitude toward sex that was usually
exhibited by scripts and plotlines,” the study adds. “Fully 96 percent
of all instances of sexual activity elicited no clear moral or even prudential
Indeed, almost three of every four participants
in the examined sexual scenes were unmarried, the study notes. In fact, extramarital
sex was depicted more frequently than sex within a marriage.
“The overwhelming verdict of popular entertainment
was that sex is neither right nor wrong,” the study say. “It just
happens… (And it) is usually free of consequences and moral judgements.
“(But) Whether this profusion of sexual
fantasies is also free of consequences for American society is something we
will soon find out,” the study warns.
Society also will be learning of the impact of
depicted violence in the media in years to come. The concerns already are surfacing,
a center study on the issue notes.
For instance, more than 80 percent of Americans
believe television violence is harmful, a figure that has been steadily rising,
the study notes. Also, the American Psychological Association estimates a twelve-year-old
has seen 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on network television **********
******** welfare of young Americans.
However, the problem is not limited to television.
Movies, music videos, and computer games also are concerns.
The violence presented in such arenas runs the gamut
from the petty to the severe, the recent study says. But the majority of it
(51.9 percent) could be described as serious, featuring such acts as gunplay,
assaults with other weapons and severe beating, as well as suicides and sexual
Violence is so prevalent one would find it nearly
impossible to avoid it, the study notes. Indeed, 80 percent of the identified
violence occurred on broadcast television.
And as it the case with sexual depictions, the
consequences of violence are not usually shown, the study points out. This includes
physical and psychological harm, death or property damage.
“We found that a significant majority of
violent acts took place in a moral vacuum,” the study states. “Just
as they rarely had direct physical or psychological consequences, most were
not judged as right or wrong… In popular entertainment violence usually just
happens, without moral judgements taking place.”
And it rarely happens for a serious or artistic
purpose, the study says. The rule is “cookie-cutter shoot-em-ups”
full of graphic and gratuitous violence, it notes.
“No sensible person wants to throw out the
baby with the bathwater,” the study says regarding the occasional artistic
use of violence. “But the converse also holds true – the bathwater can
become so polluted that ******************
language, a final center study explains.
“For all that critics complain about the sex
and violence, foul language is where the action is in the popular culture’s
ongoing descent toward the lowest common denominator,” the center study
The study identified thousands of instances of
profanity in the various forms of media. Fifty-nine percent could be classified
as mild profanity, while 23 percent were hardcore expressions and 18 percent
could be termed coarse language.
And as is the case with sex and violence, language
is no respecter of mediums – it appears frequently in all forms of popular entertainment,
the study notes.
Theatrical movies had the highest overall amount
split fairly evenly between hardcore terms and mild cursing. Broadcast television
scored the second highest frequency, relying heavily on coarse language. Nearly
two in five (38 percent) television episodes involved coarse language, more
than twice the proportion for any other genre.
However, broadcast television writers put considerable
creativity into inventing crude lingo that skirts forbidden word, the study
explains. And since television reaches a large audience, the potential for coarsening
real world speech is great, it suggests.
Also, the pervasiveness of language on television
is a concern, making it difficult for parents to shield children, the study
The study also looked at the motivation for the
use of strong language. Anger was the single most frequent motive for profanity
with 42 percent of instances falling into that category. Thirty percent were
part of casual banter, and the remaining 28 percent involved teasing or ridicule.
And the use of language was not limited to undesirable
characters, the study notes. Indeed, the “good guys” were four times
more likely to use profanity than “bad guys.”
The trend reflects the mainstreaming of course
language, the study warns. What was once taboo is now standard fare, it notes.
“If we accept civility and courtesy as positive
social values, it is difficult to ignore the antisocial connotations of entertainment
that uses epithets and vulgar expressions to legitimize incivility, boorishness
and mutual disrespect,” the study stresses.
“(But) However one evaluates its social
impact, the empirical evidence is clear – Hollywood has brought the locker room
into the living room”
Indeed, as the trio of Center for Media and Public
Affairs studies show – it has ***********