I’m here to talk to you about the opposite of the Parents Television Council. I’m here to talk to you about a little thing called common sense. Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions”. It’s basically sense that is commonplace, the ability to weigh options and choose the one best suited to your particular needs or what is best for your well-being. Common sense in action would resemble something like not sticking your hand into a campfire to see if it’s warm. This is because fire is hot, that’s a fact, and fire will burn your hand. Thus common sense tends to dictate that you not stick your hand into the middle of a fire because of reasons involving burning and pain.
The Parents Television Council essentially wants to make common sense obsolete. They want governments and broadcasters to make all viewing choices for you so that you, the parent, never have to employ your common sense and/or actually parent your children. They are upset about things like Charlie Brown specials being followed by adult dramas that open with sex scenes and shows called Sons of Anarchy that air on F/X (which is not a children’s programming network) featuring gratuitous sex and shows made by Seth MacFarlane containing questionable content. Their argument is “What about the children?” because children are exactly the target demographic of Sons of Anarchy and all Seth MacFarlane shows. I mean Family Guy is ANIMATED, you guys. It’s obviously a kid’s show. You know what else is animated? Hentai. But I digress. The PTC is upset that things like gratuitous sex air on television on networks that are not HBO and Showtime. They aren’t as upset about HBO and Showtime because those are premium channels that you have to pay specially for so you sex-addled violent heathens who are watching crap like Game of Thrones and The Knick and Boardwalk Empire deserve the brain-burning hellevator ride you’re getting by buying and watching such searingly family unfriendly content. They are very upset that regular cable channels dare to show things like sex and, to a lesser extent, violence on prime time television because WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? Don’t you see? The children may not understand HBO but my god they can access NBC and F/X with ease so we need to protect their innocence by allowing the PTC to stop Sons of Anarchy from showing sex at all.
~ OR ~
We could parent the children. Using common sense.
The thing is, I’m a childless-by-choice independent grown woman who likes watching complex adult dramas sometimes containing gratuitous sex and who more or less hates family programming and by god, that’s my choice. If I want to mainline CSI, Game of Thrones, Hannibal, and American Horror Story, I can employ my common sense and click the necessary buttons on the remote to access those shows at the times they air and then I can watch them all and revel in their total lack of PG sensibilities. Why should I not be able to make active choices to watch these shows and their violence and sex? Just as I likewise make active choices to avoid whatever Nickelodeon is shilling on any given day? If the pearl-clutching hand-wringing PTC members are so concerned that adult content isn’t appropriate for their precious snowflake offspring - and man, I’m not a monster, none of the shows I mentioned are at all appropriate for any child except Damien from The Omen – then they should use their god-given common sense to grab the remote and change the channel or shut the damn TV set off. Children are not obligated to watch offensive programming because parents have the power of parental locks and bedtimes and rules about appropriate shows and remote controls and discussions about content and also the ability to parent. You have all the power, parents, so use it. Use it to stop your children from watching endless hours of TV without interruption. Use it to have a conversation with them about why Family Guy is not appropriate even though it’s animated. Use it to shut the damn TV off and play a board game.
Nothing burns my cookies faster than the “What about the children?” argument when such arguments defy common sense and remove all responsibility from the parents in order to place it errantly with governmental institutions and broadcasters trying to make their share of a greedy buck. I will dare to suggest that some parents agree with this stance, too. Some parents do not want the PTC speaking for them because some parents are happy to guide and and parent their children responsibly and thus are happy to let adults watch their grown up shows without needing vapors over the mere thought that sex scenes may air on available channels at hours in which humans are still conscious.
I don’t find everything on television tasteful and enlightening by a long shot. I’m not soapbox defending however many iterations of Real Housewives shows are available or the mere existence of Fox News but I also don’t have any petitions for you to sign about them either. I just choose not to watch them. So let’s just agree to disagree about sex on TV, okay? I’ll watch it so your kids don’t have to. Then everybody’s happy.
Common sense: it’s what’s for dinner.
- Corinne Simpson