Feb 112004
Authors: Jamie Way

Fifteen years ago, one might have turned on primetime television

and seen Growing Pains, a happy family struggling through the

awkward phases of raising a teenager.

Today a show may air at a similar hour containing nudity,

homosexual intimacy or foul language. Some critics have said

television has pushed things too far.

“Television, in general, has gotten a little edgier,” said

Jeremy Murphy, CBS spokesman.

Murphy said that television has gotten better each year due to

the amount of creative license now allotted to directors.

“Viewers today have more options,” Murphy said.

Before any large decisions are made on airing controversial

material, the audience is taken in to account, Murphy said.

“You always pay attention to your viewers and the markets that

you serve,” Murphy said. “We have never broadcasted anything that

has been intentionally inappropriate or offensive.”

The Catholic Church urges that parents must practice vigilance

to keep their children from believing the immorality they view on

television is the societal norm.

“It has the potential to become the norm for someone,” said

Sergio Gutierrez, director of communications for the Arch Diocese

of Denver.

The main networks have become flashier as a way of competing

with the cable and satellite networks that have now taken many of

their viewers, he said.

“As we’ve seen…the line has really begun to shift to almost

anything goes,” Gutierrez said. “If viewers are concerned about the

images, they should voice that. That has a role to play.”

Gutierrez said the first time he saw a homosexual kiss on

television he reminded himself of the context.

“It’s certainly not the norm or what I view as the most healthy

family setting,” he said.

For homosexuals, the changes may be considered beneficial.

“It’s just letting people know homosexuals exist,” said Hadeis

Safi, a student para-professional of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and

Transgender Student Services.

While there is still much progress that needs to be made, the

television shows are helping to raise awareness and perhaps even

acceptance, Safi said.

“Things you see now days, you could never have seen 10 to 15

years ago,” Safi said. “It’s slowly, but surely, breaking some


Safi said that he hoped there would eventually be equal

representation for all groups.

“There’s still severe under-representation of minority groups on

TV,” Safi said.

There are three main ways social psychologists believe

television may affect people. They believe it may affect what

people think is the norm. People may adopt characters from the show

as role models. Television may also create agendas for what the

public believes is important, according to Jacqueline Voss,

clinical psychologist at the CSU Counseling Center.

According to Voss, teens who watch shows with higher sex content

tend to engage in sex earlier that their peers. For every hour of

television, a viewer will see an average of ten sexual acts.

“We show a lot of sex, but not a lot of responsible sex,” Voss


She said for every 25 sex scenes viewers see on television,

there would be one scene talking about responsible sex.

Some parents have found not only the amount of sex on television

disturbing, but also the violence.

“I tend to think violence is a lot more reprehensible than sex,”

said Chris Ransick, father of two and media studies professor at

Arapahoe Community College. “There’s a tremendous amount of just

slaughter going on, on TV.”

Ransick said that at when his kids were younger, he would give

them coupons for three hours of television.

“(Watching television is) something you carefully choose, not

something you just fall into when you have nothing to do,” Ransick


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