Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Does Violence Have to be a Selling Point?

When it comes to watching NFL football, CBS owns the rights to the AFC games. Since we're fans of the New York Jets (the reason I have DirecTV and the NFL package) that means in our house, CBS is our primary choice on Sundays.

But the commercials often have my 7-year-old son covering his eyes and ears. For some reason the promo people believe that blood and violence sells TV shows, so a gun shows up on just about every commercial break. It's not just CSI Miami, but also Without a Trace and the entire Sunday night lineup. It's a bit frustrating to try and watch a game with your children when there is so much violence. The worst part is, I can't avoid it. Sure, I don't have to watch those shows (I don't) but I can't really help but watch the commercials, since you're never quite sure when the game will start again. The only true solution is to get TiVo and skip the ads, but isn't that the problem TV faces in the first place?

This past weekend the Jets played the Chicago Bears on Fox, so I had a chance to watch those commercials instead. Fox manages to show action-packed shows like Prison Break without all the violence, focusing instead on quick cuts, pounding music and intense quotes. That said, the promos for Family Guy had a little too much sexual content for my taste.

Keep in mind, I'm no prude and I don't believe in sheltering my children, but there are limits to even my tolerance.

That's why I'm happy that no bigger a name than Steven Spielberg agrees that the promos are way over the top.

But I would say that the responsibility goes beyond just the TV networks and extends to such properties as the NFL. If the NFL wants to continue to attract a young audience, it must put pressure on CBS (and Fox) to ensure that its programming between the programming be family-friendly. This doesn't mean halting promos but just changing the tone.


Anonymous said...

It is an interesting point, but the violence doesn't get me as much - since most children's cartoons (beyond Noggin, etc.,) tend to have a lot more than you see on nighttime TV.

What gets me are all the explicit ED/Herpes/etc., coverage which is called out during the commercials

Chuck Tanowitz said...

I agree, but I almost prefer the sex to the violence, since at least the sex can start a discussion.

Also, the pharmaceutical companies are at least slightly more responsible, in that they sometimes couch the language in ways that mask at least a bit of the content.

Still, this raises a big issue. How does a property like the NFL balance the need for advertising dollars, often those companies that want to reach a key demographic, with its desire to remain family-friendly?