Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicken or the Egg

Via Yahoo - A new study by the Parents Television Council has counted over 400 acts of violence against women and female teenagers on prime-time ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox shows from February until May of this year. When the group conducted the same study five years ago, they counted less than 200 acts of violence against women. The PTC clocked an increase of over 120 percent for beatings, murder, threats and rape of adult women, as well as an over 400 percent increase against teenage girls.
The media watchdog said it was particularly disturbed by the use of violence against women in comedies and said it hoped TV networks and advertisers would stand up against the trend.

"I hope the industry will look at our data and be as shocked as I was," PTC president Tim Winter told reporters.

The report suggested that violent acts against women and teen girls was increasing at rates that far exceed the two percent increase in overall violence that the study found existed on TV between 2004-2009.

The PTC compared prime-time programing on networks ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox in February and May 2004 and the same months in 2009. It said every network except ABC showed a dramatic increase in stories that included beatings, violent threats, shooting, rape, stabbing and torture.

The PTC findings reflect a sharp rise in the number of crime series on TV, such as the popular CBS franchise "CSI" which is one of America's most-watched drama series.

But the report singled out Fox, saying the network allowed violence against women to be trivialized through punch lines in its satirical animated comedies "Family Guy" and "American Dad." It cited one May 2009 episode of "Family Guy" in which a character gets divorced under a fictional 18th century procedure -- by shooting his wife dead.
Our question is, which came first? Is violence against women so tolerated that it makes its way into our entertainment, or does its saturating presence in our media desensitize us to violence in reality? Or is it simply an echo chamber, where each feeds the other and makes the problem more and more extreme?

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