Out of breath, sweat dripping from your forehead, you run from the cops. Starting to panic, you stop the first car you see, pull the driver out of it, hop in, and drive away. Now begins an epic car chase. Swerving back and forth, you try to evade the police cruiser behind you. Then, out of nowhere, BOOM! You hit a pole. Jumping out of the car, and cursing repeatedly, you run and the whole cycle begins again. At least until you get shot by the police, or until you get bored. Then you can just put down the PS3 controller, turn on MTV and watch “Jersey Shore”, where just about every other word is bleeped out. “What the f— was that b—- doing with him?” This is a basic summary of what goes on in the media today. With the amount of profanity in the media today, it is surprising that it is not how every American speaks. Unfortunately, profanity in the media is increasing at an alarming rate. I believe that this increase in profanity is caused by a few reasons, including a change in moral acceptance in today’s society.
A major cause of change, among all of the others, is the fact that it is all caused by a recent court case. A rise in profane language and scenery in the media today can be first attributed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In a case between Fox and the FCC, the court threw away the FCC’s ability to limit language and content in broadcast television programming. As Parent Television Council (PTC) President Tim Winter said in an interview, “after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the FCC’s congressionally-mandated authority to enforce the broadcast decency law, industry and media pundits predicted a sharp increase in the amount of profanity on television. Sadly, they were correct.” (Zahn) Winter is saying that, since the FCC cannot limit profanities anymore, there was going to be a huge spike in swears and sex on TV. I agree with him, because it is quite evident that this has happened. In fact, from 2005 to 2010, there has been a 69.3% increase of profanities on primetime television, “with the greatest increase coming in the 8-9 [PM] time period that was once the so-called family hour.” (Eggerton) This increase comes right after the court case, so it is no wonder that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has caused a lot of these problems in the media.
Along with the court case, the rise in profanities in the media can also be attributed to a change in moral acceptance in today’s society. I believe that there must have been a change in the moral thinking in society if, not 40 years ago, television shows were considered wholesome entertainment for the entire family. The change is most evident with the amount of times the f-word was “used,” or bleeped out. In 2005, the f-word was muted 11 times during the first two weeks of the fall season. In 2010, it was used 276 times! According to the PTC, a leading single-interest group for this topic, “in a recent (03.20.05) Time Magazine Poll 68 percent of people believe the entertainment industry has lost touch with viewers’ moral standards.” (PTC) Although I agree with the PTC’s overall idea of cleaning up the entertainment industry, I disagree with this specific statement. I feel that the viewers’ morals have changed and the entertainment industry has gone along with them. Since more and more people watch more and more television, it seems to be impossible for the entire entertainment industry to become more profane over just five years without trying to please the viewers. I know if I was making a song, film, or show, I would be trying to satisfy what the audience wants; I wouldn’t make my song full of swears if the audience wouldn’t listen to it. Because shows are becoming more profane, it seems to be common sense that this is because the audiences are allowing it, and even encouraging it, to happen.
The media is obviously depicting more profanity than ever before. I mean, did your parents ever watch shows like Jersey Shore when they were kids? No. All they had was “Leave it to Beaver”, “The Andy Griffith Show,” and stuff like that. Good, wholesome, family entertainment. This sort of change didn’t happen overnight. The rise of profanity in the media had to come from somewhere, and I believe that it came from one important court case and the change of moral acceptance of society as a whole. So next time, when you’re running through the ‘hood shooting anything that moves, think about why you are doing it.
Eggerton, John. “PTC Report Notes “Sharp Rise” in Primetime Broadcast Profanity – 2010-11-09 16:48:32 | Broadcasting & Cable.” Cable Television News, Broadcast, Syndication, Programming & Local TV | Broadcasting & Cable. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/459666-PTC_Report_Notes_Sharp_Rise_in_Primetime_Broadcast_Profanity.php>.
PTC. “Facts and TV Statistics.” Parents Television Council – Because Our Children Are Watching. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.parentstv.org/ptc/facts/mediafacts.asp>.
Zahn, Drew. “‘F-bomb’ Litters Primetime TV Schedule.” A Free Press for a Free People. Web. 29 Nov. 2010. <http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.printable&pageId=227501>.