What we see on broadcast TV

I’m dating myself (no, not that kind of “dating”!), but I used to watch “Gunsmoke” on TV and at the beginning of every show I’d see Marshal Dillon facing down some unknown bad guy in the street. Marshal Dillon would draw and fire, but I never saw the ”bad guy” die. To this day, I gunsmokedon’t know if he was shooting at a bad guy, Miss Kitty, Chester or Doc. I’ve watched John Wayne kill 10,000 marauding bad guys without aiming, without reloading, and sometimes without shooting, all in the same scene. Growing up I saw about 10,000,000 assorted bad guys die and I never, repeat never, saw one drop of blood. Now you ask—“well, that was so many years ago, what the hell does it have to do with anything now?” Please be patient, I’m getting there.

Recently, the AP ran a story about TV violence. Did you know that in the month following Vice President Joe Biden’s January meeting with entertainment industry executives on TV violence the Parents Television Council (PTC) monitored 392 prime-time scripted programs on the broadcast networks? Well, I didn’t either, but the PTC did and they found 193 with some incident of violence.

A sample of the incidents captured by the PTC between Jan 11 and Feb 11 shows:

  • A character on ABC’s “Body of Proof” says he dreams of ripping a woman’s brain out while she’s still alive, but he’s shot as he’s about to stick a hook up her nose. Then he’s pushed off a balcony and killed.
  • A woman on Fox’s “The Following” jams an ice pick into her eye.
  • A prison riot episode of CBS’ “Hawaii Five-O” includes one man trying to kill someone in a laundry room press, a man snapping someone’s neck with his legs and a man injected with something that causes a violent convulsion.
  • A man threatens hospital workers on NBC’s “Chicago Fire” with a gun before he’s disabled with a Taser.
  • A gun fight on ABC’s “Last Resort” is ignited by one man stabbing another in the abdomen with a screwdriver.
  • A man on CBS’ “Criminal Minds” is shot dead by the FBI as he tries to cut the eyelids off a gallery owner’s face.
  • Two characters on Fox‘s “Bones” wake to find a corpse hanging from the canopy above their bed, dripping blood onto them.
  • An already bloody man is dragged into a warehouse on CBS’ “The Mentalist,” choked to death and thrown in a furnace — all witnessed by a little boy hiding in the building.
  • A man writhes in pain on Fox’s “Fringe” before a parasite violently bursts out of his body. He’s surrounded by the bodies of others who had met the same fate.
  • A scene in ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” features a woman’s nightmare about sawing her leg, as blood spurts and she screams in pain.
  • A gymnastics coach is stabbed several times in the groin on NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU.”
  • A man working on a coffee cart on “The Following” is doused with gasoline and burned alive.
  • On CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” a man aims a gun at a group of children in the park before he is shot dead.
  • Even President Grant on ABC’s “Scandal” gets into the act, removing an oxygen mask from a woman’s face so she suffocates.

This is prime time folks. This is also ugly, unnecessary violence pushed at us by broadcast networks. I’m not going to say that the broadcast networks are the only ones doing this, but they are tamer than some shows on cable networks or the big screen.

I’ve asked people over the years and never got a good answer, so I’ll ask again:  What does this ugly violence contribute to the story line? Does it improve the story line? Is it a distraction? Is it necessary? Read those incidents again, read them good, and decide if they make that program better. I’ve had people tell me that “realistic” violence shows things closer to real life. Hell, I don’t watch TV to see real life, I watch it to be entertained. I watch it for a distraction from real life. If I want real life I’ll move to Chicago.

These are just some examples of the shows on broadcast networks, but they are prime time—you know, the time our children and grandchildren are watching TV. Are these things that we want them to see?

TV showFor the women out there—is this a picture you want your children and grandchildren to see? A woman tied to a table about to be tortured and/or murdered. What does the picture say about women and violence?

I’ve seen many TV shows and watched many movies over my life and there is a BIG difference between shows and good, or great, shows. Know what that difference is? It’s the script. A good script can create the illusion of danger or death without the graphic details, without seeing the aftermath, without seeing the blood and gore. A good script can entertain without blood and guts squirting 50 feet across a room.

Are these shows good for prime time? Are they good shows for our children and grandchildren to watch? In my humble opinion—not only no, but hell no!

For the record, I don’t watch any of the programs listed here or many, many movies for one reason—the graphic, senseless violence, and the blood and gore.



Gunsmoke photo credit: twm1340 via photopin cc