the Toxic Media
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year, a coalition of entertainment companies
and interest groups loudly launched an initiative
called “PauseParentPlay.” The coalition
(including Fox, Time Warner, Viacom, Comcast,
and NBC Universal) claims it wants to show parents
how to shield their kids from violent and exploitative
TV, music, movies, and video games. Among its “tools” are
industry-created ratings systems for TV, movies,
and video games--rating systems that are inadequate
to the task, unevenly administered, widely ignored,
and largely discredited.
see PauseParentPlay as one more example of
the entertainment industry’s success in marketing
the idea that families hold all responsibility for handling the damage from the
children’s entertainment industry’s own output. This program is a
whitewashing attempt to divert us from the fact that exploitative media hurts
kids, particularly girls, who are so often depicted in sexualized and disrespectful
ways in shows and games.
Love Canal, where Hooker Chemical dumped poisons
that sickened upstate New York families and
forced them to leave their homes? No one suggested
that the families held no responsibility in
the ensuing crisis. Those parents were responsible
for taking themselves and their children to
the doctor, taking the medicine that could
help them survive, and packing up their belongings
to move away from Love Canal. But no one suggested
that these parents were responsible for Hooker’s actions,
or that Hooker could absolve itself by mailing neighboring families a list of
oncologists while continuing to dump benzene in the groundwater.
time that we held the children’s entertainment media to standards akin
to the ones chemical companies must observe-for the common good. Yes, parents
should pause the media, parent their children, and then play with their kids.
But the entertainment industry must do its part by stopping its contemptuous
dumping of cultural toxins-and its stance of no responsibility.
parents and our leaders—most of whom are parents as well—should find ways
to hold the entertainment industry liable. It’s time to use your voice.
for media viewing tips and ground-breaking research
on gender imbalance and portrayals in media made
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