New Study Reveals Parents Television Council is Totally Into Sex and Violence

I want a new job. I want to go work for the Parents Television Council, and spend my time watching and cataloging sex & violence on prime-time television. This is what they do. They watch TV, looking for sex and violence, and when they find it, they tell the world. It’s awesome.

They’ve just released a study with this alarming headline:

Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television

Here’s the deal: at the beginning of this TV season, they watched 207 hours of prime-time network television, painstakingly waiting for some kind of sexual reference by a character, and then thinking long, deep and hard about what kind of sexual reference it was.

  • Was it about good old — missionary, hopefully — marital relations?
  • Was it about that evil adultery or promiscuity?
  • Was it about “masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, manual stimulation, sex toys, bondage or kinky or fetishistic sex?”

Apparently, 74 times, it was about one of those things. That’s right, they not only watched, they categorized. Probably used an Excel spreadsheet with columns for each type of sexual behavior. And I wonder, did they have individual columns each for fellatio and cunnilingus? Or were both just under “oral sex?”

I also wonder if someone made a reference to oral sex during bondage, or masturbation with sex toys if the single reference counted twice, or counted as a half-reference for each? There is so much I want to understand about the methodology behind prime-time TV sex studies!

Regardless of the mechanics, the premise behind their study is simple: any discussion or depiction of sex that isn’t about married people having sex is bad. Any discussion or depiction of married people having sex is good. Hey, does that include gay married people? It must, right?

So that means that the Parents Television Council has come out in favor of gay sex. Just as along as the guys or girls are married. Awesome!!

In any event, given all of the fetishistic categorization going on, I’ve got a theory: the people that make up the Parents Television Council really love watching and dissecting sex and violence. As a matter of fact, they can’t get enough.

And, as James Poniewozik points out in Time Magazine:

The report catalogs an impressive list of examples and kinds of sexual behavior—threesomes, masturbation, incest and on and on. But typically, it doesn’t distinguish how the sex is presented: the mere fact of its discussion apparently equals an endorsement. Thus the MILF Island episode of 30 Rock—which presented the show as, basically, the collapse of Western civilization—is listed without comment as an example of “adult/child” sex on TV.

In order to prove my theory about the PTC loving the naughty, I’ve decided to apply that rigorous methodology — mentioning equals approval — to the PTC’s website.

And whaddya know? I’ve come up with my own screaming headline:

The Parents Television Council is Totally Into Sex and Violence!

It’s all right there on their website. Check out the Special Reports page, and you’ll find that they’ve done 40 Special Reports:

Out of those 40 Special Reports, 38 — a whopping 95% — were explicitly about watching, thinking about, and cataloging sex and/or violence in Entertainment. Sex. Violence. Everywhere they could possibly find it: Broadcast TV, Music, Cable TV, Childrens Programs, Video games.

Sex. Sex. Sex. Violence. Violence. Violence.

Dig into a random report, and you’ll find that the Parents Television Council researchers are feverishly transcribing sex scenes, in order not to miss a single case of either innuendo or intercourse.

Including, BTW, the reports entitled “Faith in a Box – A Study on Entertainment Television and Religion.”

One of those reports has this steamy scene:

Sara pretends to have a “clergy fetish” in order to get Rev. Diddum to agree to her terms in a lawsuit. She asks Rev. Diddum to remove his clerical collar. After sniffing it sensually, Sara demands they have sex on the desk. Rev. Diddum agrees, saying: “Maybe what you’re feeling isn’t the product of a fetish so much as two of God’s children desirous of coming together…It’s what God wants.” (ABC, Boston Legal, October 11, 2005)

Whew, hot. Someone had to sit down, transcribe that, and perhaps even categorize it . . .

“Hmm, let me rewind this . . . And rewind it again. OK, obviously, it was fetishistic. She said so. Check. But was it kinky, because they had sex on the desk? I need to think about whether or not that is kinky. Hmmm. I’m going to say no, because it would have been kinky only if they’d wiped everything off of the desk in one passionate arm motion. Oh, and it would have been incredibly sacrilegious if he’d then plopped her on the desk (where she’d done a quick ooh!) and then knelt down in fron . . . well, I obviously need to rewind this again.”

Cool. What a great way to watch TV! I mean, just because they say that they’re doing it for the children doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking the exact same pleasure that most other adults take from the same type of entertainment. I’d say the same thing. I took absolutely no pleasure in writing the scenario above. See?

Actually, I would argue that they’re taking more pleasure, because that’s pretty much all they do. Most of us watch TV for the characters or the plots or the themes; if there is sex or violence, it’s a bonus, but that’s not the primary reason we watch.

But not the PTC — they don’t even notice the plots or the characters or the themes — they zero right in on the sex and violence.

Damn! Why didn’t I think of that? How can I get in on this?

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