Saturday, July 11, 2009

Violence on Television: Can it be stopped?

By: Nicholas Chase

Let me begin by stating that I have worked in the broadcast television industry for over thirty years, in a variety of roles including studio cameraman, producer / director of music videos, broadcast senior systems design and integration engineer, and senior broadcast television project(s) manager.

In my ten-year role as a senior post-production maintenance engineer, it was partially my job to screen hundreds of television programs and motion picture films to test and assess quality of the technical aspects of the program, video audio and FCC-mandated transmission standards adherence.

Photo by Aaron Escobar

I was unfortunately subjected to many dark, evil and basically sick horror films, or so called situation comedies with poor moral values displayed. Now that I am a parent, with two children,I have always been hypersensitive to the movies and TV programs our children watch.
An unfortunate effect of all of this negative programming being produced in the first place is marketing.

The innate curiosity and viewing appetite of the general public is for mystery, murder, sex, violence, and depravity to be somehow only satisfied through the watching of this material.

The program producers feel that they are merely satisfying a need for these programs, as the so called ‘wholesome family entertainment’ programs have their place, but cannot be the only source of revenue for the production industry.

I have had extensive conversations with some of the top production and movie studio executives and production staff over my extensive career, and the general consensus is that this programming will continue as long as advertisers and the general public are engaged in making these productions successful.

Photo by woodleywonderworks

For me, the question of entertainment in general requires that I be either edified, and educated by the material, by example The Discovery Channel, PBS and others, maybe laugh or cry during a particular wholesome program, but never want to be a captive-witness to suffering or harm to another human, animal or life-form.

I certainly do not want to be forced to ask for my money back, after discovering the promotional materials left out the part about the violence, sexual-content or foul language that is so pervasive in the film and television marketplace. If more moviegoers would perform this simple act of outrage, perhaps the producers of this material would change their focus to the style of movies in the 50’s, where you never actually saw anyone harmed.

My wife and I seldom go to the movies anymore, and not just because of the high ticket prices. High ticket prices are the result, of special-effects-laden productions, where character development is pushed-aside, and the special-effects have become the ‘Stars’ of the film.

There are really only a few movies produced in the last twenty years that I can recall for exhibiting what I would call strong family values. The alternative-lifestyles portrayed in these modern productions have only served to diminish the traditional and biblical precepts for marriage between a man and a woman.

Children growing up today are ridiculed by their peers in school when they have to introduce their two ‘DADS’, or two ‘MOMS’ to their classmates at school events. I have witnessed this first-hand at school functions, and while I cannot rightly and in good conscience sit in judgment for the choices made by these ‘parents’, as an observer of human behavior, their children appear confused and believe that they are ‘different’ through no fault of their own.

A general ‘watering-down’ of moral, social, and kind behavior has been building for many years in my observation. Numerous alternative lifestyles and celebration of offensive actions are portrayed in music, television programs, motion picture films, and much of the literature on the best seller lists of Publishers. An unfortunate aspect of this ‘feeding-tube’ of sub-standard content is acceptance by the viewer that this is normal and acceptable.

My mother is 87 years old, and her generation demonstrated a deep concern for one’s ‘reputation’ in the world, values that have certainly disappeared from our current generation. Respect for authority, kindness, being humble, dressing in a manner that states, ‘I’m proud of my accomplishments in life’, are totally in absent these days. The language I hear being used in public places is so offensive, that I can hardly contain my anger.

The self-respect exhibited by my parent’s generation is gone. The manners, morals and lifestyle of this current generation are bordering on causing a collapse of society not witnessed since the ‘Fall of Rome’. Roman society became depraved, gluttonous, and perverse, forgetting their own history in conquering whole nations of people.

For a man living in 2008, who is currently in his ‘middle-age’, this is so very frustrating. While I remember living in the 1960’s, ‘when do not trust anyone over thirty’ was the battle cry, I observed even then, a gradual shifting of moral and ethical values starting to slip away.

Governmental and parental authority was being questioned, primarily due to a horrendous, ‘undeclared’ war in Vietnam, but also the infiltration and adoption of certain eastern philosophies and precepts as exhibited and promoted by popular musicians of that time.

Photo by daveynin

These new moral codes were embraced by a generation hungry to take charge of their own lives, and even the very country they lived in was affected by these choices. The display of public nudity on billboards, magazine covers, and easy access to pornography and criminal attacks against our children by predators, as well as ‘quickie’ marriages and divorces and the taking of numerous, recreational-drugs whose long-term, mental and physical health effects, were not considered at the time.

Now a generation of damaged people, who were the innocent victims of a society whose moral turpitude caused their exposure to cruel and inhuman, murders, crimes and other accepted violent solutions to their perceived problems.

As a result of the general meltdown of societal values and mutual respect required for a healthy functioning society, criminal behavior has caused our prisons to be filled to over-capacity with individuals who chose to take a path of destruction, having no doubt learned these actions from their peers.

In my opinion, the general decay of respect, kindness, and wholesome lifestyle choices has caused all of the current suffering our world is experiencing. The realization that things may never be as they were before should be a wake-up call to all. We may never again have the true ability to celebrate our freedom as our forefathers intended, "One Nation Under God, With
Liberty and Justice For All".

He has four active blogs with significant topics namely :
and The Way To Success Blog.

This is what he says : "My purpose in creating these blogs is to populate them with rich content, and begin adding advertisements gradually."
And he does write well about his daily progress in his blogs - which is quite interesting to me.

Visit his site and take part in his blogging experiences and challenges.

Good luck to you Nicholas and I'm certain you will succeed in your goals.


Jena Isle said...

Let me be the first to comment Nicholas.

I believe that even if the market, viewers or the ratings of the violent episodes are high, the TV people still have the MORAL responsibility to produce non violent programs for children.

It is just like saying that since the market for prohibited drugs
(cocaine and the like) is high and gives good profit, then people should produce more drugs and give in to the demands.

The TV people should know more than anyone else, what and how TV exposure influences young children, or perhaps they don't know? Perhaps they need to read books on actual researches conducted worldwide to learn about this?

Another method is to categorize programs for adult and children's viewing.

Just like exposure to sex, children are only exposed when they are old enough to understand.

That is my point in this campaign.

A very well written post Nicholas.

Thanks for being my guest blogger.

Nicholas said...


You are correct! The main motivation among the production community, is unfortunately ($$ money $$ and profits $$).

In my conversations with studio executives and producers / directors who may have an ownership stake in the production,or wrote a portion of the script, many of whom have children, claim they have no choice due to their competition doing the same thing.

What a conflicted industry it is, feeling guilty for producing this sub-standard 'entertainment' but forced to do so by the economic and competitive forces shaping this industry.

I have decided to take the higher ground, and no longer work in Hollywood, nor on any production that includes any of the material we discussed. Respectfully, Nicholas Chase

melindacook said...

Hey Nicholas, thanks for sending me the link! I enjoyed your article. Having recently seen several movies since completing my summer job I can say that there is very little out in theatres that does not contain some prurient content. I have just finished reading a book of essays entitled The Maternal is Political. I think when people become parents their priorities shift and they want to ensure that the world is a clean and healthy place for their children to grow up. If you have the names and email or other addresses of people in power in Hollywood in either the film or TV industry, please post them on your blog so those of us who would like to register our discontent know where to send our thoughts. Thanks and take care. Your sister, Melinda

Jena Isle said...

Hi Melinda, Thanks for dropping by commenting. You're a supportive sister. Nicholas' article should be read by those who can do something more about it, just as you pointed out.

All the best.

Eric S. said...

Nicolas, I must say that I agree with you. There is a serious decline in the moral fabric of our society. It is due to over dramatised and sensationalised content on television and in the movies.

There have been some wonderful, family oriented and meaningful shows. Unfortuneatly, they always seem to be canceled, because the networks are heavily promoting the violent and sensuous shows.

I wish there was a way to change this. But as you say, as long as they are making $$$$$$$$ off the programing, there is no incentive. I winder how many such producers would be willing to let their own children what these shows.

excellent post.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Eric, the persons involved should take the higher ground. I agree with all your observations. Thanks for a very enlightening comment.

All the best.

tashabud said...

Excellent post, Nicholas. If you and others, which I'm sure more of you in the industry are oppose to these kinds of programs, can't talk producers and executives to eliminate TV violence, what can we, as ordinary folks, could do to persuade them?

I believe that the best solution to this is to have a special control built into the TV systems that parents can manipulate through use of passwords, but that the children can't, so that the children who are watching without parents' supervision can't access programs that are laden with sex and violence.

BTW, I read in Eric S.' that you're from Wheatland, Wyoming. It's only an hour and a half north of where I live. I haven't been up there in 14 years though. Enjoy blogging.

Jena Isle said...

Hi Tasha, yes, if everyone cooperates then perhaps we can do something. My campaign is just like a "pipe dream" but I'll keep trying. Eventually someone will listen. Thanks for dropping by.

Ray Gratzner said...

I enjoyed reading the post, especially because it is written by a man out of the film business.
Thank you for this well written post.
In my opinion, each generation develops their own set of values, and will eventually make a fine job, when the have to shoulder responsibility, so I see a change but no decay. Let us trust in the younger ones...

Nicholas said...


Thank you for your comments.

Actually, it was my mother who hails from Wheatland WY. Her father had a farm in Wheatland, eventually opening a general store.

Most modern tv sets and set-top boxes have a parental control function, from the on-screen menu.

They are fairly easy to set up, blocking those channels that are inappropriate.

My sister suggested listing the names of some hollywood producers who make these shows, on my blog, but I do not want to 'shoot myself in the foot' just yet.

One of my dreams is to direct a feature film, hopefully acceptable without the kind of material currently offered. Respectfully, Nicholas

Jena Isle said...

Thanks Ray for the comment,your invaluable contribution has always gave credence to the post.

Nicholas, thanks for responding to the comments. I appreciate it a lot.

All the best to all.

tashabud said...

This is wonderful. I hope that your dream comes true. My family and I'll be the first ones in line at the theater near us.

Jena Isle said...

Yes, Nicholas, me too. (smiles). Do it, we'll be the first to watch the movie.

Tasha, thanks for dropping by. Hugs.