Friday, December 9, 2011

Snooki, Sex, and Your Dime

Last night I went on my local Fox station to discuss the most recent study released by The Parents Television Council. It covers popular MTV "reality" shows, like Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, 16 & Pregnant, and Real World. If there's ever a reason to push for Cable Choice, it's now.

You are paying for this content. You may not watch MTV or VH1 or even want it with your cable lineup, but regardless, you're paying for it. Every bleeped word, every moronic antic? Yup, you paid for it. If Viacom wants to peddle this 'entertainment' via cable companies everywhere, go for it. It's a free market. But don't expect me to pay for someone else's entertainment choices.

It's kind of like going to Asia de Cuba on Madison Avenue and paying for my neighbor's dessert.

Make sure to voice your support for Cable Choice. Call your cable provider and let them know they need to offer Cable Choice or they'll lose a customer.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fox's 'Allen Gregory'

Fox has not had a glowing reputation with its programming slotted during the Family Hour. From Glee to Family Guy to American Dad, the blatant lack of regard for families across this country is clear. I thought the scripting of pedophilia (Family Guy), bestiality (Family Guy), mocking of the disabled (Family Guy), sibling sexual fantasies (American Dad), and bondage (American Dad), had reached the height of indecency on broadcast TV. 

Until now. 

I'm convinced Fox's human resources department is holding job fairs at halfway houses for child molesters. Allen Gregory (Sundays, 8:30 p.m. ET) is a show that slithers to new a new gutter of sludge. My beef isn't with the writing, if I can call it that. My beef is with Fox airing this crap at 8:30 PM, during the massively-ignored 'Family Hour'. The show’s title character is actually a 7-year old child in second-grade, who has sexual fantasies of his elderly principal.

Seven.Years. Old.

Upon being sent to the Principal's office for drinking wine at lunch, Allen is shown having a series of sexual fantasies about her, which include ogling her hairy (blech) cleavage and rubbing her down with suntan oil as she lay topless. And predictably, Allen and his teacher head to a hotel room where it’s clear they’ll be having sex:

Allen: “Let me ask you something. Is it just like a complete mess down there?”

Principal: “I'm gonna level with you. It's like post-Katrina.”

Allen: “Damn it, you're perfect.”

Allen Gregory reclines on the bed. The lights go out. Principal starts moaning his name: “Allen Gregory, Allen Gregory...”

I understand that there are people across this world with freakishly strange senses of humor who enjoy seeing a second grader having sex with his teacher. But they need to enjoy their twisted fantasies on someone else's dime. Allen Gregory is aired on public broadcast television, which means YOUR tax dollars pay for this. Contact your local Fox station and tell then you don’t want this airing.

The advertisers who link their brand with Allen Gregory : 

I've included links to the customer service for each company. Make sure to let them know that in this down-turned economy, your hard-earned dollars shouldn't be funding this type of crap on television. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

FX Network's "American Horror Story"

If there were ever a time to argue for the necessity of Cable Choice, it's now. I'm never afraid of the content I see in movies or on TV. My short stint with acting a thousand years ago exposed me to the 'magic' of movies and television. Dismembered body parts (wax moldings) blood (corn syrup, usually) and dead people very rarely scare me. The minds behind the dead bodies, dismembered corpses and the blood is what causes me to jump out of my chair.

Like Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck and Glee), who has put out another darling for families everywhere. American Horror Story (Wednesdays, 10PM Eastern/FX Network) is primarily centered around the Harmon family. It highlights sex, murder, self-mutilation, masturbation, S&M, dismembered fetuses, corpses, and demons, and a teenaged boy's fantasies of murdering his classmates.

And it's on basic cable. You can't opt out of having it--you are forced to pay for it.

Dr. Ben Harmon moves his family (after sleeping with one of his students) to a new state and a new home, which just happens to be haunted and (of course) has a history of gory murders. Rampant use of the ever-classy genital slang like “p***y” and “c***sucker.” is there, along with the good doctor Ben fantasizing about his housekeeper and masturbating himself to a very graphic and loud orgasm. His wife is shown having sex with (and becoming pregnant by) someone in a full-body rubber S&M bondage suit. This rubber-wearing lunatic may or may not be her husband.

And it's on basic cable.

Victims are stabbed or axed to death, forcibly drowned, or graphically murdered. Each episode also includes views of dismembered corpses, fetuses, and what I can only surmise to be demons.

But you know what really gets me? It's when a Christian is sexually assaulted and murdered while praying. I think it goes unsaid that Ryan Murphy and his cronies over at FX wouldn't dare exhibit this type of violence on another religion. Maybe Murphy has a love/hate thing with God. Maybe he's secretly enraged over Christian doctrine and theology and uses his medium of television to exert said rage. Maybe he was a nerdy kid who was picked on by jocks at parochial school. Who knows? What is certain is that Murphy and FX are a bunch of talentless hacks who are using the most predictable, unoriginal and banal means of shock value around: Picking on the church. He may be rich and successful, but talented he ain't.

I included a clip of the show, which opens with a disabled girl staring ominously at two boys who threaten to hurt her with baseball bats. Creepy, yes. Cheap and trite? Yes. But maybe in the mind of Murphy, nothing says "horror" like a kid with Down's Syndrome, right?

Curious who sponsored American Horror Story? See below and click the links to contact the sponsors. Tell them to pull out or they'll lose a consumer.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Channel One News and Your Schools

Channel One News  is a 'school-safe' news channel which informs teens on current world events and pop culture. It's free to schools, which means it's funded by a lot (LOT) of advertising. Earlier today I posed as an interested parent wanting to get Channel One in my school district. The reps at Channel One were very helpful, and informed me that they have many new things coming, including an interactive model geared towards grades as young as three, where kids can build their comprehension skills 

Thank God for that. We all know that sending our kids to school to build academic skills is just an urban legend, really. Interactive whiteboards with a lot of advertising is what's necessary to up their IQs. The rep at Chanel One assured me that the interactive "Smart Boards" were a "really expensive" add-on service to the basic newscast, and some schools probably couldn't afford them. Was my district a part of that demographic? I almost hung up on him.  

Most recently, Chanel One's heavily marketed website, (owned by Channel One's parent company, Alloy Media) showcased a porno-ish photo of Glee's Naya Rivera: 

In bolded brackets next to Ms. Rivera's crotch is a warning for youngsters: "[Warning: They're all hot, but you prob shouldn't look at them at school and/or work!]" Then it encourages teens to run out and buy a copy of FHM to see more sexy photos. 

Are you kidding me? My tax dollars are paying to fund this crap? 

My love story with Channel One goes back to 2008. From 2007-2009, I headed the New Jersey Parents Television Council, and in 2008 I worked with a parents advocacy group who contacted me to go before their board of Ed in our town. Nutley, NJ, is a smallish suburb of Manhattan, and is home to down-home Italian families, football, manicured lawns, and a lot of involved, take-no-prisoners parents who were enraged by the prospect of Channel One invading their schools. While the Board listened politely to our case, it was a no-go on our end. Channel One soon found its way and its many ads into the hallways of Nutley schools. 

Josh Golin with Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood writes a very good article on Channel One here.  He urges parents to get involved, and this Watchdog Mama agrees. 

Get in touch with your  district and find out if they have Channel One. If they do, ask why. In the world of logic, there's absolutely no reason for kids to be bombarded with advertising and cheap pop culture while at school. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

MPAA OKs PG-13 Ads in Kids' Media

The world of advertising reminds me of a roach: It preys and feeds on the unassuming, its snarky practices multiply at lightening speed, and you know where there's one, there are at least 100 more waiting. Today, let talk about the slimy vermin also known as The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). 

A recent finding by the CARU (Children's Advertising Review Unit) demonstrates the darkened crevasse in which the MPAA breeds. Forget the constant onslaught of PG-13 marketing in the preschool aisle at Toys R Us (Spiderman, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc); now PG-13 movies are being marketing to kids on television during specific viewing times tailored for youngsters and their families. During the kid game show "Hole in the Wall" on Cartoon Network, trailers for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon", "Green Latern" and "Captain America" were all shown. 
("Transformers: Dark of the Moon")

But upon being contacted by CARU, the brass suits at Paramount and Warner Brothers were arrogantly unapologetic. In a statement to CARU, they said they’d "placed the ads in those media intentionally", as "no specific guidelines of the MPAA were violated" 

Hmmm. The MPAA describes a PG-13 rating as such: "Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13." It goes on to then say: "...(A) PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them...any drug use will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. More than brief nudity will require at least a PG-13 rating.." 

So let me get this straight: The MPAA "strongly cautions" parents to not expose their kids to a PG-13 movie, but they market the same PG-13 movies kids under 13.

Are they...morons? Do they think we won't pick up on that? 

Contact the MPAA and let them know you object to their marketing methods. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Toddlers, Tiaras, and Hookers

TLC's hit show, Toddlers and Tiaras, has long engaged my gag reflex. Something about pageants in general creeps me out, but pageants featuring girls barely out of diapers? Ick. The mothers are basically insane, and the pageant judges should seriously consider adopting a new profession. I mean, they judge little girls in evening gowns. It's just wrong, people.

But not one to be outdone by current industry standards of pre-pubescent sexualization, TLC ("The Learning Channel", if you can believe that) has upped the ante on exploitation. Its latest episode showcases a darling little three-year-old dressed as none other than Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman:

I've said this before and I'll say it again: Am I missing something here? Did the girl's mother have a brain relapse? What the hell was she thinking? She defended the outfit, saying she was "stunned" by the media's outrage and that her child was completely unharmed by it.

Of course she was. Because all of us nay-sayers are the crazy ones, right? Everyone knows adorning our babies in skanky hooker attire is perfectly acceptable.

When I was little, I had a Daisy Duke Halloween costume. When my grandmother saw it (and the shorts were to my kneecaps, BTW), she made me wear a sweatshirt over it, hissing at my mother in disgust. But Daisy Duke is a long cry from a prostitute, and I certainly wasn't parading around on national television wearing twelve pounds of makeup and thigh-high "come hither" boots.

My peeps over at the PTC have slammed TLC, and rightly so. In an age where pedophiles rule the streets and girls are forced to grow up faster than the speed of light, TLC should get a new agenda. If you're a cable subscriber and TLC is part of your package, contact them. Tell them to clean it up or they're going to lose a customer. (Link below)

This show is yet another fine example of why Americans are begging for Cable Choice.

Contact TLC here. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Apple iNsanity

The iPhone has a newish app out called "War Pinball HD". Based on popular films like Platoon, Navy Seals and Missing In Action, there's no denying that war film buffs will enjoy playing this game. And I get that; I really enjoy a good action flick. Given the choice, I'd take a war or spy movie over a 'chick flick' any day of the week.

But I wouldn't let my four-year old play a game based on it. Yet this is exactly what Apple is wanting you to do. The app, priced at an allowance-friendly $2.99, is rated for kids 4 and up. As in, not old enough to use a knife, still wears a Pull-Up, still sleeps with a blankie, four years old.

Uh..say what?

The game has a sound chip equipped with the same language used in the movies (not ideal for kids), as well as the artillery sound effects. Not one to be controversial, Apple feigned corporate responsibility by working with the game's inventor, Gameprom, and changed the default setting to 'mute', requiring a password to turn the sound back on. Brilliant.

Click here to submit your feedback to Apple. Send this post to everyone you know. My endeavor is to not stifle commerce, but to enforce basic decency standards. Parents buy these games based on the ratings; companies funded primarily by consumerism should refrain from obfuscating the fact that children are an at-risk demographic and their best interests must be taken into consideration. The advertising should accurately reflect the content.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Playboy Bunnies and Womens' Lib?

When someone thinks of feminism, I'm sure Playboy immediately comes to mind. Forget birth control, suffrage, and equal pay; true liberation is found in deep cleavage and nude centerfolds. Right?

NBC is bringing this glitter to the public airwaves as part of their Fall 2011 lineup. The polemic is that the show will demoralize women by casting them in a meaty light. But NBC prez Bob Greenblatt claims the show is about 'female empowerment', and the nay-sayers are missing the mark on the show's premise. From Gloria to a local NBC affiliate, to the Parents Television Council to the American public, it's clear people are not happy about the show.

I'll play devil's advocate for a moment: There's something very retro about revisiting the Playboy empire glam of eld. When the clubs ruled major cities and those silk bunny ears were as valuable as gold in the waitress arena, girls everywhere wanted to be a part of it. The country was on the eve of a major sexual revamp, and Playboy was a key architect. I get it.

Kind of.

But here's where you really need to pay attention: It doesn't end with the broadcast of The Playboy Club. Ironically, that's least of my concerns. First off, there's Hulu, Side Reel, etc. Forget the decency clauses and sensors; this show will be available to watch anytime on the Internet, 24/7. And if history is any guide, we can safely assume that the slippery slope of prime-time television writing will bang out (bad use of words, sorry) sloppy episodes of glorfied prostitution, spousal infidelity, drugs, alcohol abuse, get the point.
'Female Empowerment'? Hmmm...
And then comes the real Frankenstein: Marketing and Advertising. Halloween costumes, TV spin-offs,  Disney's newest tween sensation will be groomed for the next lead, and commercials for upcoming episodes will be aired during The Family Hour.  But why stop there? Maybe Hasbro will make a Playboy Bunny Girl doll. For $19.99! A Hef doll in a Mercedes for $24.99! Think I'm nuts? Until public outcry reached epic proportions, Hasbro had a whole line of Pussycat Dolls ready for sale.
(I can't think of something I'd like my kids to play with more than a slutty Nicole Sherzinger toy.) 

In an age where pornography rules and monogamy is considered antiquated, why do we want to further perpetuate the myth that people must always exist in an uber-aroused state? Don't we want more for our kids society?

Contact NBC here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fox 9 Twin Cities

 My post last week on The Teen Choice Awards  was a hot one. Not that I had anything to do with it; I really didn't. All this Watchdog Mom did was present the facts.

The feedback is what made it so hot. People were (are) outraged, and rightly so. I  emailed a producer I've worked with before at our local Fox news affiliate, and she asked me to come on their evening show and discuss this current topic. This is my appearance discussing the awards and television how you, the consumer, can get involved:

(My thanks to the producers and Heidi Collins over at Fox 9 Twin Cities for asking me back. See my other clips on Fox 9 here.)

Want another way you can get involved?  Send  this link to as many people as you know. I even tiny'd it for you:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Teen Choice Awards

The Teen Choice Awards airs this Sunday on Fox. I can't think of a show less appropriately titled than this one. Almost every one of the movie nominations are rated "R".  I understand the whole "pushing the envelope" thing in the entertainment industry, but I really don't know why Nickelodeon (parent company: Viacom) keeps forcing adult content down the throats of kids. 

Oh wait, yes I do. Advertising revenue. Instead of an awards show with commercials and product placement geared towards pre-teens and teens, we now have a show that's akin to a porn flick packaged in Toys R Us wrapping paper. It's actually quite smart. Sick, but smart.

The Teen Choice Awards are the brain child of Nickelodeon. When parents see that bright orange paint splat they automatically think the show is ok for all children in their house to watch. Nickelodeon's own website promotes the show as a family-friendly, with nominees like iCarly and Justin Beiber, and page ads for Trix Cereal, The Smurfs movie and McDonald's.  But let’s look at little closer at the nominees:

Black Swan (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Drama

No Strings Attached (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Romantic Comedy 

Bad Teacher (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Comedy 

The Hangover Part II (R) - Nominated for Choice Movie Actor: Comedy

Let Me In (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Horror

Paranormal Activity (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Horror

Saw 3D (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Horror

Scream 4 (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Horror

Due Date (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Hissy Fit

Bridesmaids (R) – Nominated for Choice Movie: Hissy Fit

Wonder why aren’t any of the above nominees listed on Nick’s website? Could it be the 'R' ratings, the consequence-free sex, drunken hook-ups, drug use, prostitution, and full frontal nudity of men and women? The horror movie nominees are so raw and twisted that they’re actually referred to as "torture porn” in the critic arena.

But let me be clear: If you're an adult, I could care less where your amusement center is. For most, it seems to be in their crotch area. But it's a free world-- laugh it up. If you get off watching people being shredded to ribbons like in the Saw franchises, go for it. Just leave the kids out of it. 

And let’s talk about the giant purple dinosaur in the room: If "R" rated movies are for 17 and up, is Nickelodeon saying the awards are only meant for that age range? This is from the MPAA's own website

"...Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures."

My niece Emily is ten years old. She's not allowed to watch Teen Nick (and I heartily agree with that ruling). She told me she rarely watches the Teen Choice Awards, like many of her friends. "Why not?" I asked her. "Well, maybe if they had some more choices [nominees] for like, stuff I could see, I'd vote and watch it. But everything is PG-13 and R rated so I don't even know what to vote for." Maybe she should write to Nickelodeon and demand more from a network her parents pay big bucks to have in their home. She is after all, the client. 

I’ll save her the stamp. Viacom is making sure they have enough viewers to spare. Sure, if the awards were geared towards kid-centered content, I'm sure only kids would watch. But throw in movies with rampant drug use, drunk driving, rules-free sex and sadistic torture, and you have a show the whole family, from kid to adult, can identify with. 
No Strings Attached: Best Rom Com Nominee

Saw 3D: Best Horror Nominee
The Hangover: Part 2. Best Comedy Nominee
Let Me In: Best Horror Nominee

Monday, August 1, 2011

Katy Perry + Smurfs = ?

The Smurfs premiered this past Friday with $36.2 million dollars in ticket sales. I haven't yet seen the movie, but I plan to. It sounds like a cute revisit to my 1980's childhood, where Saturday morning channels rotated between Smurfette, the Care Bears and Fat Albert. And when I say "rotated", I mean that literally. We didn't have remote controls.

This post is not about the movie, but about  Katy's outfit at the premiere: 
Katy Perry - The Smurfs premiere in New York
(In the words of Phil Hartman as Ed McMahon, "Heyyyy-ooo!")

I know she's a performer and yaddya yaddya, but come on,'s a kids' cartoon. What's wrong with a little class? I'm not suggesting a business suit; I'd even settle for your stylist lowering that bedazzled hem 8 inches or so. But Katy's sexed up anima persona invading the rapidly shrinking innocence of childrens' programming is not breaking news. Remember the controversy of her duet with Elmo?  We don't need to promote highly sexualized stars to little kids. It serves no other purpose than pimping out our kids for more revenue to advertisers. (E.g.: Instead of Sesame Street appealing to a 3-5 year-old fan base, they now appeal to a 3-to-dirty old man fan base.) The same applies for controversial stars. Read my post on that and Amy Winehouse here

So while the movie itself sounds cute and yes, I plan on taking my 5 year-old son to see it when he fills up his sticker chart (hey, movies are expensive-I'm making the the boy work for it), I'm not a fan of Katy displaying her ahem, assets, while promoting the movie. Production companies are savvy entities. They know that while there are many talented voice over actors out there, casting the girl who sang about cheating on her boyfriend with another girl and losing her virginity as a teenager will attract a much larger crowd over anyone else. And of course that's what they want; they're in the business to make money. But at what cost? And why is it now the norm? 

I'm not boycotting the movie, and I'm not stamping my feet and screaming 'foul'; I'm just irritated that everything in this world from cartoons to toys to food is a cleverly marketed shortcut to sex. The other day, my five year old asked me if he could live with me forever. 

"Well, probably not." I said, smiling. Of course I was flattered. And slightly panicked. 

"Why not?" He asked, frowning.

"Well, someday you'll want to live by yourself. And you might meet a pretty girl and want to marry her."

His chubby cheeks scrunched up in horror. "I think I'll just stay with you", he said firmly. 

I know his innocence won't be there forever. But can't I at least hold on to it for longer than five minutes? 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Amy Winehouse: No "Wake Up Call" Made

"Dead at 27." Sadly, this is a line I've read in a Hollywood obit one too many times. Amy Winehouse and her low, sultry voice and gloppy style left a legacy of drugs, alchoholism, and little more. Before you read on (or click off), let me assure you this post is not about the sadness of her death. I won’t even touch on the eerie similarities between Winehouse and Joplin. Not only would I sound like every other blog out there, it would be entirely disingenuous. Of course it's devastating to think of that young soul who met its end tragically. But personally, I have no teary feelings. And frankly, outside of the revenue she brought in, I don't think Hollywood could give a damn, either.

Instead I want to highlight the danger of endorsing such a volatile figure to our youth. Gone are the days where stars' drug use was limited to Page 6. Now, in our microwave-ready world of instant news and social media it's nearly  impossible to not see a wasted Winehouse's slurred and incoherent speech at MTV's Europe Awards. Gone are the days where Elvis's drug use was folklore and River Phoenix's death shocked the world. Today we see intoxicated stars receiving awards and Amy's death, while horrific, was certainly no surprise. Like Anna Nicole Smith, we watched her every moronic slur and every unapologetic drunken misstep unfold. And then we watched her get nominated, on a stage decorated with brightly-colored surfboards, and 20,000 kids in the audience cheering for her victory. 


It's not just Amy who Hollywood promotes. Eminem cleaned house at the 2010 Teen Choice Awards; the list is endless. Sure, it's the parents' jobs to tell kids what's right and wrong. But let's face it, we no longer live in a world where parents and their kids eat dinner every night around the table. This is a time where roughly 30% of kids live in a one-parent home, many others live in homes with two working parents, or others live with extended family. 

And that is exactly what advertisers are banking on. They know as well as I do that mom and dad aren't going to pause the old TiVo when someone like Winehouse starts slurring her speech and launch into a thoughtful moral lesson. Mom and Dad won't see it--they're at work. Or the awards are shown on a giant sceeen TV in Best Buy.  Or in a mall. Or at a friend's house. Or on somebody's iPhone on the subway. 

The Internet is abuzz with articles shouting "wake-up call!" regarding Winehouse's death. While her death is tragic and should be a monumental wake-up call, it's not going to be. From Judy Garland to Chris Farley to Heath Ledger to Winehouse, Hollywood's headstone of dead stars reads as long as the boulevard they frequented. There will be no wake-up call. What there will be are more awarding drug-addicted stars. There will be more hooplah and glitter thrown on strung-out celebrities, many of them appearing in commercials for popular clothing lines purchased by tweens, cosmetics endorsements, fast-food songs...even kids' programming like Nick, Jr. and Sesame Street. And inevitably, there will be more dead stars. 

And still no lesson learned. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Basketball Wives: A Slam Dunk of Stupidity

It's no secret that I despise most of reality television. Simply speaking, the art of entertainment is gone. Outside of the bad script writing and banal oversexualization, all that remains are average joes and janes who voyeur their lives for a paycheck and a shot at a red carpet premiere. I caught an episode of VH1's  Baksketball Wives the other night. These women are so obnoxious and classless I'm amazed their husbands' publicists aren't putting a stop to the show. Or maybe that's the whole point? Who knows.

The latest drama on Basketball Wives is that two of the women were arrested in Itlay for getting into a fight. I'm laughing as I write this...grown women brawling it out like a couple of middle-school rivals.


A special thanks to Meeka and Tami (above) for making Americans look soooo good.

The irony is that without their rich husbands, makeup artists and stylists, they're just a bunch of nasty women clawing at each other. And this is ratings gold? These women are morons! Don't they understand that America, (and now Italy), is laughing at them? Like Mob Wives or the all-too-many Real Housewives, we're watching heavily made-up women slobber over Louis Vuitton and running to the finish line of vanity and narcissism.

I'm reminded of my former stomping grounds and home out east; in northern New Jersey, Manhattan and all the surrounding boroughs, things like club brawls, gold-digging and classless displays of character are usually pigeon-holed into stereotypical prejudicial bubbles of cultures unlike our own. The ending result is further polarization between races, and very poor life lessons taught to our burgeoning young women.

Or, what we also refer to as, "reality television".

Friday, July 15, 2011

Egomaniacs and Reality TV

I recently read an article in LiveScience highlighting a new study in Cyberpsychology which details how fame is the #1 draw to kids (preteens and teens) when it comes to viewing choices. A key bullet of the study pointed out that the quest for fame, specifically in the age of Twitter and Facebook, lends to an inflated sense of being. Translation: Narcissism. 

Outside of Napoleon (or a toddler), I can’t think of a bigger narcissist than a teenager.    

And we owe a great deal of thanks for the enlarged egos to reality TV. It's no secret this genre of 'entertainment' (and I use that term loosely) has changed many a life. From the mob wives who had to endure raids, infidelity, beatings and jail-bound husbands in private, to the little girls pimped out by their pageant mothers, people had to actually live their lives in privacy! The housewives of America who used to have crow's feet and non-inflated lips...we now have women whose boobs are next to their earlobes and their faces are stuck in an “I think I just pooped my pants” expression. 

Then we have Snooki. I'll leave it at that

But today, let's talk about our teen moms. I don’t think there’s anyone on earth who could say with conviction that children raising children is a plus to our society. Let me make one thing clear: I give major props to these girls who didn’t take the easy way out and chose to have their babies. But shame on the media for glamorizing a life less ordinary, and shame on their greedy parents for allowing it. Our society has plummeted into a gutter of voyeurism where following people’s heartaches and struggles is something we need to validate our own lives. ("Well, at least my daughter isn't hooked on drugs and pregnant.")

Teen Mom  (MTV) led Tuesday night’s cable lineup as the Number 1 show.  A show packed with meaningless sex, suicide attempts, domestic battery, child neglect, drugs, alcohol…this was number 1? Why?

Could it be that all of these teen babies raising babies are now front and center on magazine covers? They have managers, publicists, stylists, and hordes of paparazzi. It’s no secret teenagers are narcissists anyway. They’re trying to figure out how they fit into the world (much like toddlers), and it’s a hard place to be. But (much like toddlers), they have very little sense and even less self-control. Perhaps bombarding them with images of poor decision-making being rewarded by lots of notoriety isn’t the wisest thing to do. 


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two and a Half Men: Sponsors, Pay Attention

A lot of the work I do at the PTC is centered around advertiser accountability. Specifically, the companies who support Two and a Half Men.  With Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen, whose recent antics award him the Biggest Moron on the Face of the Earth trophy ("winning!" "tiger blood!" the "godesses"), the direction of the show remains to be seen. My guess? Down. Maybe not in ratings (yet), but in even raunchier and uncreative writing garbage. I don't know if Kutcher will be able to fill Sheen's dry and cantankerous persona so many found appealing; Kutcher's comedic chops were honed as a boisterous and practical-joke playing personality (That 70's Show, Punk'd, etc), so seeing him as a replacement for a crotchety sex-obsessed man-child is hard to swallow. No pun intended. Also, Kutcher is very good-looking; youthful and physically fit. Technically speaking, of course. Charlie...? Not so much:

(When you tell your kids to stay away from drugs and high-priced prostitutes,  just show them this picture.  'Nuff said.)
What is certain however, is that advertisers will jump as high as they can to obtain coveted commercial slots in the debut episodes. And that is where you and I come in: Since Two and a Half Men is aired on broadcast television (public), during the Family Viewing Hour, you know that highly impressionable little kids and tween/teens will be assaulted with masturbation jokes, threesomes, and gutter-swilling frat boy humor. All brought to you proudly by Burger King! McDonald's! Chrysler! The list goes on.

If you like that sort of humor, have at it. It's a free country. But most of us don't, especially at 8 PM. Move it cable or a later hour. I've linked this post to a page with some letters sent out to advertisers. Take a look and see what YOUR tax dollars and YOUR money is buying you. Still ok with it? Then this probably isn't the blog for you.

Advertiser Letters

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sexing Our Babies Up

If you don't think there's an overt endeavor on behalf of marketers to draw our girls into a world of hypersexualization, perhaps it's time for you to come back to Earth. From Bratz Dolls to the aggressive campaigning of pop music, girls don't stand a chance against the mounting pressure. As a mother of two boys, I get very angry when I look around and notice how pathetic this has all become. How am I ever supposed to mentor my sons and teach them how to respect women, when society does everything to the contrary?

There's a very simple reason why the sexed up approach to the clothing and toy aisles is taking place: Buying power. Whereas 9 and 10 year olds were previously not in the arena of tween and teen merchandise, they are today. And to companies like Hasbro (who actually started production on a line of Pussycat Dolls, after the raunchy burlesque-themed pop group), this means billions of dollars. Just take a look at the montage the PTC put together:

Think I'm making something out of nothing? Why should your girls be any less of a target?

Read more on this here:
Sexualizing Childhood
Tinseltown's New Target (2010)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Daily Show-and-Tell

There are three types of people who don't care to hear about the negative effects of violent video games: 1) People who enjoy playing them. 2) People who don't want to be bothered with having to tell their kids 'no'. 3) People who have a feeling the games are harmful but would rather exist in a comfortable bubble of denial.

Which one are you?

Last week, The California Supreme Court came down with a ruling devastating for families across this country. In a 7-2 decision, SCOTUS ruled that children of any age should be allowed to purchase violent or sexually explicit video games without barriers. Simply speaking, this means that on your next run to Target, your preschooler can pick up a copy of Mortal Kombat (one of PC World's most violent-rated games) along with her Elmo coloring book. Realistically speaking, there aren’t many parents who would allow that purchase to happen under their watchful eyes.

But what about when they’re not around? That is exactly what the Entertainment Merchants Association is banking on. Little Jimmy and his friends biking up to Kmart with their allowance money, and perusing the vast selection of AO (Adult-Only) rated games, with no one to stop them from buying it. Games like Mortal Kombat has the controller impaling his victims in a torrent of entrails, and is a top-selling XBox 360 game. Nice, eh? Oh, and if you for one second think your child would never purchase something that graphic, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. 

Jon Stewart recently covered the SCOTUS ruling on The Daily Show. Now, I can’t think of anyone less likely to side with parent advocacy groups than Stewart. He’s a political satirist whose left-leaning politics more often than not poke gratuitous fun at the right. He’s funny, and though personally I am a conservative, I enjoy Stewart. He’s smart, witty, and knows how to engage a crowd. Our politics are pretty night-and-day, but I still enjoy catching episodes online. However, I was shocked to see his recent coverage regarding Brown vs. The Entertainment Merchants Association:
Stewart mentioned he wasn’t aware of any effects violent gaming has on kids—of course he isn't. He's a comedian whose forum isn't to analyze this sort of thing. But it’s what I do, and I have a lot of information on that subject. Check out my page on Violent Gaming Effects.

The question I’m left with is this: If the government is now placing stickers on cigarette packets with cancer-infested lungs to deter people from buying them, why are they saying it’s OK to virtually maim, rape and impale victims? And if your answer is the template, “It’s not real-it’s a game”, then explain to me why so much attention has been given to this issue. Could it be that perhaps all the studies out there proving the negative effects are correct?