Stan, Kyle, Catman and Kenny – four-foul mouthed third graders who abuse each other and find delight in making fun of authority figures. Yet they possess a dumb innocence that makes their bad behavior forgivable to anyone with an honest memory of their childhood. Most parents do not approve of the bleepable expletives that fly out of the kids mouths on South Park or the fact that Kenny dies violently in every episode. A lot of people want shows like this to be censored or taken off of the air. Parents try to shelter their children too much. They should let them experience life in the real world and not censor everything that they disagree with.
Some shows can and cannot be shown on television because of their content and some parents want select shows off of the air because of their language, violence and profanity, but we as individuals should be able to choose what shows we want to watch.
Television networks have a hard time deciding what shows they want to put on the air. They have to put a lot of thought into picking the correct shows to draw in the attention of the viewer. They first have to realize what type of audience they want to have. If it is a network like Nickelodeon, then they will want to look for something a child would be entertained by. If it is ESPN, then they would want something that the sports fanatic would love. Another point that they want to have in a good show is how it relates to reality. Every television show needs some reality. If the shows content is meant to be able to happen in real life, then it should look realistic. If the age group will relate to the shows topic is also put into consideration(Nesbit). Networks also have to figure out if the show is useable or not by seeing how much violence, language and profanity. Again they have to consider the shows target audience. There wouldnt be the same amount of violence allowed to be shown on Barney as there would be allowed on Americas Most Wanted. Television has now put a rating on TV shows. It is based on the same principal that the rating system of movies is. In movie theaters, G means the movie is suitable for all ages, PG means some material is not suitable for pre-teenagers and parental guidance is suggested, PG-13 means that parents should be strongly cautioned to give special viewing guidance to those under the age of 13. They also use the ratings R, which means that the movie is only allowed to be seen by people over the age of 17 unless the child is accompanied by a parent. The movie may contain a significant amount of nudity, violence or strong language. NC-17 is not used very often. It does not allow anyone under the age of 17 in the theater (Nesbit).
The televisions rating system is basically the same as the movies, except for a few more ratings that get more specific in the shows content. TVM is put on shows that are intended for mature audiences. TVY means that the shows content is directed toward children and Y7 is a childrens program that is suitable for children over the age of 7 (Nesbit).
There has been a new rating system put on television lately that consists of S for sexuality, L for language and V for violence (Parker). All of the cable programmers have accepted the new designations except for NBC. They oppose them on the grounds that they would inhibit programmers artistic license (Fritz).
One of the main shows that parents would like to get off of the air is South Park. The show that has spread like a virus is about four flatulent third graders and their paranormal Colorado town. Some of the past show topics have included anal probes and the alien abduction of Ike, Stans younger brother. Parents do not care for the show, thinking that it will corrupt their childs innocence. One Georgia Mom, Paula Howard remarks, I dont care for the disrespect. You have enough smart-aleck children running around without South Park making it worse (Newsweek 58).
Kids on the other hand take the shows content in a completely different way that parents would not expect. They know that they shouldnt follow in the footsteps of the four vulgar children of South Park. In the show, Cartman dressed up as Hitler for Halloween. This may have alarmed some parents, but New York seventh grader Nick Ferrar says, With Catman, you know hes a complete idiot and you should do the opposite of everything he does (Newsweek 60). As for the language that flies out of the third graders mouths, an eight year old boy from Larchmont, New York says that they werent new to him, My daddy says them every single day (Newsweek 60). Parents are going about sheltering their children the wrong way. While they are blaming television and the violence in the world, they dont realize that the person that the child will take after most is themselves.
What parents mostly dont realize is who is watching the show the most. Almost 60% of the shows hard core viewers are ages 18 to 34. Only 23% of the audience is under 18 (Newsweek 59). South Park is viewed in over 47 million households when it is shown on Comedy Central once a week. There are over 250 unofficial websites and most of the people who love the show the most heard about it on the internet first (Newsweek 59).
Many people have said that South Park is the reason that they made the V-chip. V-chips are devices that can block out whole television programs (Nesbit). Representative Edward J. Markey says, Parents for the first time will have a 24 hour a day control of what their children see – even if theyre not in the room (Fritz).
I am in favor of the V-chip and the new rating system being brought to television. It will let parents have more control over the programs they do not want their children to watch.
Television networks should not be able to prohibit the viewing of certain shows. Parents should be the ones making the decision of their childs viewing. Even if the networks do censor shows, doing so will not make a big difference on anyones life. If parents want to keep their children innocent then they will never be able to see the light of day because there is violence happening around us at all times. In the First Amendment, there are five freedoms mentioned: exercise of religion, press, assembly, petition to the government, and speech. If they censor television, then they are breaking that amendment by not letting everyone have freedom of speech (Nesbit).
We cannot protect all of the children in the world by censoring a few television shows. If anyone is at fault for exposing their child to the bad in the world, it is their parents. Remember what the 8 year old said about South Parks swear words, My daddy says them every single day (Newsweek 60). It is the parents choice if they want to protect their children from all of the violence and profanity that is out there, it is in no way a choice of television networks. Everyone has a right to speak their minds and not have their thoughts censored.