Picking Up the Slack For Lazy Parents

Picking Up the Slack For Lazy Parents

The four networks recently announced plans to construct their own ratings system to coincide with the recently passed Telecomm Bill, which forces TV manufacturers to implant their products with an Orwellian semiconductor known as the “V-chip”. The V-chip works by identifying the rating of programs, and blocking out certain programs in accordance with the uptightness of its owner. This, in theory, would let concerned parents set the smut-threshold for their impressionable, defenseless children. In practice, however, this chip will end up censoring and further watering down the already bland world of television.

Take a look at other industries that have implemented ratings. The music industry caved into Tipper Gore’s Thought Police and began labeling records. The industry was assured that labels were “a guide to help concerned parents monitor their children’s music”. But labels were just the first step. Step two involved masses of mostly the same people who pushed for the labeling going out and protesting stores who sold releases with the dreaded “Parental Advisory” sticker. As a result, many large chain stores stopped carrying labeled releases. This, in turn, made many record companies censor their own artists so they could avoid the label.

Movie rating works much in the same way. After a movie is completed it is submitted to the ratings board. The secretive, almost cultish board gives it a rating without an explanation. The movie can then be edited and resubmitted for another round. This goes on until the movie gets a rating the company can live with. Because few theaters carry movies with an “X” or “NC-17” rating, and Blockbuster (the nation’s largest video rental chain) won’t stock their shelves with “X” or “NC-17” movies (they sometimes even edit “R” movies!), studios are forced to chop away at their movies until it gets an “R” rating. So while the rest of the world gets to see American movies as the director envisioned them, America gets censored versions of its own creations.

Putting ratings on television shows will work in the same way. Where do TV companies make their money? Advertising. What determines how much they charge for advertising? Ratings. How many shows do you think will be produced that the networks know are being blocked out by a certain percentage of the population?

Here’s another way television will get censored:

Step 1: An advertiser agrees to pay large cash money for an ad slot
Step 2: A show receives an “adult” rating
Step 3: Concerned groups protest show already neatly defined as “adult” – Threaten boycott of advertiser’s product
Step 4: Advertiser pulls monetary support. Asks to advertise on “Barney”
Step 5: Network has problems finding advertisers. Show is canceled

Where do all these “concerned parents” come from? If they are so damn concerned, why don’t they take it upon themselves to monitor their kids watching habits instead of getting the government involved and making the rest of us who live in the real world deal with their moronic hang-ups? What kind of “concerned parent” would let their kids rot their brains with TV anyways? Aren’t these the same people who believe in smaller government and less federal regulation?

Why not let freedom of choice run its course? It should be common sense that if a show is too violent or sex laden for a viewer, they wouldn’t watch it. And if enough people felt the same way, enough people wouldn’t watch it, and a message would be sent a to the network that it was missing the target. The show would be canceled. But the thing that scares these pro-ratings groups is that this isn’t happening because AMERICA LOVES SMUT! High violence/sexy shows pull major ratings. Regardless of vocal minority groups whining about returning “family values” to the television, and the “need for regulation”, the rest of America has made its choices and the networks have responded.

As far as the V-chip goes, it should be a matter decided by capitalism as well. Instead of forcing everyone to buy a TV with the stupid chip in it, why not make SOME TV’s have a chip? If there is such a demand for this stuff, then those TV’s would be bought and America would be a safe place once again. But then again, that makes a little too much sense. And it puts too much faith in the common person.

I think it would be interesting if the networks started their curtailing of sex and violence in the area of afternoon soap operas. No longer would the impressionable housewives and househusbands of America be subjected to the smut and terror of daytime television. If this area of programming changes at all, you can bet that “concerned parents” from all across this nation would join together and commit horrible acts of violence. Not that your V-chip would let you watch it on the news.