TV tops list of cultural 'bad guys'
Movies have been singled out for criticism in recent weeks, but Americans say television and video games pose bigger threats to the values of children.
When it comes to their children, Americans consider TV - not Hollywood's feature films - the real bad guy in the nation's culture wars.Skip to next paragraph
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These findings from a new nationwide poll may be reason for pause up on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have sharply criticized Hollywood movie executives - and threatened new regulations - after discovering that movie companies marketed R-rated films to children.
Across the country, many more Americans rank TV, along with violent video games and raunchy music, as greater threats than movies to the health and morals of the nation's youth.
Nearly 4 of every 10 Americans say television has the most negative impact on children of any major entertainment media, according to The Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll conducted Oct. 6-8.
Over 20 percent say video games have the worst influence, while 13 percent say music is the greatest menace to children.
Movies are mentioned by slightly fewer than 10 percent.
Kelvin VanArsdale, the father of two in Louisiana, says "a lot of problems in society come from what is on TV."
But Mr. Van-Arsdale, one of those surveyed in the Monitor/TIPP poll, says his greatest concerns are with rap music, which he complains is vulgar, degrading, and disrespectful of women.
The entertainment industry - particularly movies - became headline news in Congress and in the presidential race in recent weeks after the Federal Trade Commission reported that Hollywood was marketing movies that featured violence, sex, and profanity to children under the age of 17.
One studio was found to be testing R-rated movies on focus groups with children as young as 10.
Republican vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney raised the issue anew last week in the VP debate, when he chastised the Democratic ticket for criticizing the movie industry, then taking millions in campaign money the same week from Hollywood moguls.
The poll found a high level of public skepticism about using Washington to reform the entertainment industry, according to Raghavan Mayur, president of TIPP, a unit of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, who conducted the media poll for the Monitor.
"Americans know that politicians stump against Hollywood violence during the day and take money from them to run their races at night," he says. "Their confidence in the candidates to deal effectively with Hollywood is pretty low."
The Monitor/TIPP poll of 800 Americans - all likely voters - found that 49 percent favored slapping a federal ban on the marketing of R-rated movies to children. But 45 percent opposed such a ban.
One reason for this sharp division of opinion may be that most Americans say parents - not the government - bear the greatest responsibility for regulating children's entertainment.
For example, 95 percent in this survey said that parents should be "very responsible" for monitoring the movies their children attend.
In addition, 58 percent agreed that Hollywood should also be "very responsible" for helping to protect children from unacceptable movies.
Yet only 23 percent felt that government should have a significant role in deciding the movies that children see.
Kelly Meade, a mother with three children in Indianapolis, Ind., was one of those surveyed by the Monitor/TIPP poll. She says: