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Tv Censorship Essay, Research Paper

Television Censorship

Television is a very important part of the American society today. It is estimated that “the average American watches up to 6.75 hours of television daily”(Flahey 35). But does something that is such an influence on the American society need to be censored? Chambers’ English Dictionary defines Censorship as “the authorization to examine books, films, television, or other material and remove or suppress what is considered objectionable” (50). When anything goes through a process of censorship, a committee reviews it and deems it acceptable or unacceptable for the common viewer. Censoring television is an unnecessary and unconstitutional way of controlling what people see.

Many people for the censorship of television argue the point that media shapes society. This means that the way people in society act today is a direct result of what they observe on television. Also argued, is that TV provides a small number of role models and children who view these programs will act poorly towards others, just as they have seen on television. Many believe that if television is censored, society will change along with it for the better.

However, this is not the case at all. If television is censored, society is not likely to follow in suit. For many children, the forbidden and mysterious are more attractive, and they will strive towards what they can not have or see. Therefore, it is best to allow them access to these things so that they will know the problems and be more likely to avoid them.

A previous case of television censorship leads me to believe that society will not change if censorship is implemented. In the early 1980 s cigarette advertisements were banned from television in the United States. Even now many ads on TV are directed towards helping smokers quit. However, the American Heart Association indicated in a 1998 survey that “smoking has not decreased. In fact, more than 26 million men (28.2%) and 23.1 million women (23.1%) still smoke”(AHA 2). Seeing as cigarette smoking has not decreased, I am led to believe that television censorship will not decrease the problems in society.

While many argue for censorship because media shapes society, others push for censorship because kids are impressionable. This idea stems from the belief that children who watch TV tend to imitate the heroes or heroines they see on the programs. In fact, this point has validity since there have been numerous cases in which children have been killed imitating a television super hero. This problem has also come across my life. When I was five I wanted to imitate Q-Bert, a round hero who shot balls out of his nose. I thought he was a great role model until I spent the afternoon in the hospital having a mountain ash berry removed from my nose.

None the less, this argument also contains flaws. Parents who are truly concerned with what their children are viewing should supervise what they watch. Parents should also be attuned to the way their child reacts while playing after a violent show. If they act aggressively, a simple scolding will help the child learn that it is wrong to act that way. Also, required warnings before almost every program that portray violence, inappropriate language, or sexuality allow parents to know if what their child is watching is appropriate or not. Similarly, if the violence is portrayed as wrong, a child will easily be able to recognize, by the use of common sense, what they are viewing is inappropriate for them to reenact.

Just as people argue that kids are impressionable, they also contend that children should not be viewing adult oriented material on television. Protesters feel that television has no morals for kids to see or take out of the show. They believe that all that is ever seen on television is bad language, violence, and sexual references. They consider children too young to be exposed to that part of society. Many adults are also offended by the lewd nature of the programming today.

The problem with this argument is that a television is a product bought by the viewer. Chamber’s English Dictionary defines a purchase as “the willful exchange of currency for a product”(317). This means that the same people who are complaining about the filth on TV are the same ones that willfully purchased the television, allowing their family to have access to it. One could even compare a purchase of television towards that of a pornographic magazine; it is evident that both will contain offensive material. Therefore, it is easily stated that if television is offensive, then it should not be purchased by the offended.

In many families parents may enjoy the offensive programs that are in question but still feel that it should be kept away from their children. However, modern innovations have made it possible for parental figures to prevent their children from viewing indecent material, but still allow them to watch whatever they like. One way to regulate this is the parental lock system (PLS). This modern convenience allows parents to lock out channels with a secret password. Only the people who know this password are able to access the forbidden channels. It is a nearly foolproof invention because even if a child discovers the secret code it may be changed.

Similar to the PLS, the rating system allows parents to regulate what their child watches. This system was put on all television programs on January of 1997. Before every TV program, in a small black box, a rating is given by the US Federal Communications Commission that determines how vulgar a program is. Jeremy Craig, an expert on the issue, explains how the system works:

The box will read either G, meaning it is expectable for general audiences, PG, parental guidance suggested for that program, TV14, meaning it is not suggested for children under 14 to view that program, or M, which is intended for audiences 18 years or older. (Craig 2)

Although this system does not necessarily apply to unsupervised children, it does an excellent job of informing parents on which programs may contain items unsuitable for kids.

The most important case against censorship is that when something is censored, it tells parents how to raise their child. This takes away the constitutional right of parents who do not feel obliged to preventing their child from viewing these programs. It also puts the power of raising children in the hands of the government. In the United States it is against the constitution to take this power away from any parent.

Censoring television is an unnecessary and unconstitutional way of controlling what people view. The arguments for censoring television are weak, and ways to solve the proposed problems are available to almost everyone. Also censoring television tells a parent how to raise their child. It places the power of the parent in the hands of the government. If someone feels strongly enough to argue for censorship, then they are also strong enough to regulate what their child watches. If censorship is in place, it disallows some parents their right to encourage their children to be open to different aspects of life. The best way to censor television while pleasing everyone is by having personal parental censors.

Works Cited

American Heart Association. Cigarette Smoking Statistics. Dallas: Family Publications Inc., 1998.

“Censorship.” Chambers’ English Dictionary. 166. 1985.

Craig, Jeremy. Understanding the Ratings System. n. p. Online. 28 Oct. 1998. Available: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Hills/6578/ratings.htm

Fahey, Valerie. “TV by the Numbers.” In Health, volume December/January 1992: P.35

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