Scott D. Pierce: TV sex is a problem but violence is fine?
By Scott D. Pierce
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Apr 19 2013 01:44PM
Have you checked out the NBC series "Hannibal"? Here are a few things you might have missed:
• The naked body of a woman impaled on antlers.
• Bodies carved up so that their backs are splayed like grotesque angel wings.
• Characters dining on human body parts .
• People buried alive, covered in compost and fed sugar water so they grow fungus all over their bodies.
• Victims with their eyes gouged out.
• Victims being shot as blood splatters in slow motion.
• A victim whose throat is slashed and blood gushes from her wound.
Just to name a few.
In the 23 years I’ve been a TV critic, "Hannibal" is the single most violent, gory series that’s aired on broadcast television.
It’s not as gruesome as "The Walking Dead," although there are moments that equal anything on that cable series.
And yet ... have you heard of protests by the parents groups that want to cleanse TV? Have you heard anybody protesting?
Janet Jackson has a momentary wardrobe malfunction and these groups go nuts. But prolonged, horrific violence? No problem!
Locally, KSL yanks "The Playboy Club" and "The New Normal" off the air amid talk of how they are inconsistent with the KSL brand, but that brand is consistent with "Hannibal"?
It’s not just that show. NBC’s "Revolution" and "Grimm" can be hugely violent.
And it’s not just NBC. There’s a long list of violent shows, from CBS’ "Criminal Minds" to The CW’s "Supernatural" to Fox’s "The Following."
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation that went like this:
Parent: Is such-and-such show OK for my kids to watch?
Me: Well, 11 people are shot to death, there are two stabbings, a guy’s head is chopped off and there’s blood everywhere.
Parent: But are there any sex scenes?
We could argue about the competing studies on how television influences behavior. But broadcast TV is based on the commercials affecting behavior, so it’s disingenuous to argue that program content does not.
If I had young children, there’s no way I’d allow them to watch "Hannibal." When my kids were growing up, I knew what was on TV and didn’t let them watch a lot of it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting sexual content is good for children. I’m not suggesting that adults shouldn’t watch shows designed for them. I’m not suggesting local stations should pull shows and deny adult viewers the right to make decisions for themselves.
But what I don’t understand is parents who reject sex on TV but don’t flinch at the violence.
Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.