Email Brigade has some anti-copy thing on it, so I can’t easily quote Marsha West’s article titled Tinseltown is on a mission to sexualize young girls. She includes some stats from the Parents TV Council’s recent study regarding this, taken from here (pdf):
The presence of an underage female was associated with higher amounts of sexualizing depictions compared to the onscreen appearance of an adult female. Though an older female character is more likely to have sexualizing dialogue in the scene, a younger female character is more likely portrayed in sexualizing behaviors onscreen.
Out of all the sexualized scenes depicting underage or young adult female characters, 86% of those female characters were presented as only being of high school age.
Only 5% of the underage female characters communicated any form of dislike for being sexualized.
One or several instances of implied nudity and/or sexual gestures (e.g. suggestive dancing, erotic kissing, erotic touching and/or implied intercourse) were in every onscreen scene that contained sexualized depictions of underage girls.
West partially blames the Devil for luring Tinseltown into creating girls full of sin
but not before she blames the Safe Sex movement and schools that don’t teach abstinence-only education. She includes some information she found at movieguide.org (a Christian family movie resource website) about how common STDs are in teen girls. It’s appalling, I agree:
A new scientific report [as of 2008] from the Centers for Disease Control shows that 25% of young American women aged 14-19 have at least one sexually transmitted disease! Eighteen percent of the girls studies had the HPV virus, or human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer. Also, of the 50% of teenage girls who admitted having had sex, 40% had at least one STD. Although some of those who want to undermine morality tried to spin the evidence by blaming abstinence-only sex education, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council noted that 75% of American public schools teach sex education based on birth control and condoms!
She mentions another movieguide article that gripes about the fact that little girls don’t want to be little princesses who dream of marrying a prince and living happily ever after any more, Disney: No More Fairy Tale Movies!
“By the time they’re 5 or 6, they’re not interested in being princesses,” said Dafna Lemish, chairman of the Radio and TV Dept. at Southern Illinois University and a self-proclaimed expert in the role of media in children’s lives. “They’re interested in being hot, in being cool. Clearly, they see this is what society values.”
And has for a while. It’s hardly a new phenomenon. What’s changed is how soon young girls can obtain sexualized imagery, clothes and toys and how that’s affecting their mental health and overall image of self worth.
West’s ultimate hope is that every conservative Christian will support and join PTC to stop the “degenerates [who] won’t be satisfied until our younger generation is wallowing in unbridled hedonism.”
I took my post title from a Hollywood Reporter article on this topic.
The PTC argues that girls are increasingly shown as having their worth dependent upon their sexuality, a media phenomenon it says leads to passivity, depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem.
The report notes that 73 percent of televised sexual incidents that involved girls under 18 were designed to be funny, thus using “laughter to desensitize and trivialize topics that might normally be viewed as disturbing.”
The study says 98 percent of the portrayals of underage girls acting in a sexual manner occurred with partners with whom they have no committed relationship, and 75 percent of such shows don’t include the “S” descriptor beforehand to warn parents what’s coming.
I’ve discovered there’s an advertising gimmick called podbusting. It’s not a new trick (MTV was using it in 2008 already), but to compete in a Tivo/commercial skipping environment, advertisers are filming actors from various shows (and/or imitating the sets) to catch the eyes those who try to avoid ads. The ads might have the feel of the program so people will stop the fast forward in case they’re missing something vital from their show and wind up seeing the ad anyway. Sneaky, eh?
I’m guessing that a similar tactic is getting used to avoid tripping the V-Chip parents can use to avoid sexual content — using a definition of what’s appropriate for young viewers that’s far looser than what a concerned parent would.
I don’t really know what would work as a solution though. PTC probably won’t be satisfied until everyone’s watching repeats of Seventh Heaven and nothing else. Advertisers and the media in general are still going to be pushing the envelope in terms of good taste without stopping to consider the age of those who might see what they do and be adversely affected by it. That’s rarely factored into the bottom line.
The media will never be on their side because sex sells and the more sexualized content they can get away with, the more eyes will be focused on their ads and programming. If it winds up being scandalous, so much the better. Nothing drives up interest better than a scandal. I doubt they’d want to go back to the world of innuendo and symbolism when televisions provide so much in the way of quality hi-definition. To quote the greencine article’s last line as mine:
The days of whistling lessons are long over.