Monday, March 03, 2008

Using Your Remote Control

If you check out The Telegraph today, there's an interesting letter to the editor in which a local viewer complains about CBS airing "Dexter" on Sunday nights. The reader said the series carries a TV-14 rating but clearly is not appropriate for 14-year-olds. The reader also accuses CBS of violating the public trust by misusing the airwaves and hopes "Dexter" will be pulled off immediately.

I've written about this before and likely will so again, but my short answer to this is, yes, "Dexter" shouldn't be watched by 14-year-olds, but no, it shouldn't be pulled off the air.

I've never understood why various parents watchdog groups can think they can make the choice for everyone as to what is appropriate and what isn't. Certainly, if I had kids, I wouldn't let them watch "Dexter," which shows a serial killer from the killer's viewpoint. But that shouldn't limit my own enjoyment of it.

It's a fine line as to what is appropriate and what isn't, but certainly there are so many different viewpoints on any series that censorship shouldn't be endorsed as a means of child-rearing. If the parents on these watchdog groups have a problem with their kid watching a certain series, by all means, supervise your own kid and make sure he or she doesn't watch it. But don't try to parent other kids who aren't your own.

Now, more than ever, with the advent of the internet, there are lots of things more harmful than a TV show, but there are also all sorts of parental controls and information out there to help parents combat it. Not to mention the quaint notion of actually sitting down with your kids and discussing what they see on TV as a basis for morality.

There are hardly any shows that don't carry material that someone somewhere might find objectionable. "Dexter" is really no more violent than some of the things seen on "CSI," for example. And is the violence any more or less objectional than all of the sex on "Grey's Anatomy?"

The point is, every household has the ultimate means of making sure their kids don't watch something that's objectionable. It's called the remote control.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: The short season of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (Fox, 8 p.m.), replete with all sorts of violence, wraps up tonight with a two-hour finale. This is kind of a bubble show, with middling ratings compared to a very high budget, but it has grown on me and I hope it's in Fox's lineup next season.

Considering we fought a revolution 200-plus years ago to get away from a monarchy, this country remains awfully fascinated by Britain's royal family. Those people interested will be in for a treat as Barbara Walters examines a year in their life in a two-hour special tonight (ABC, 8 p.m.) It's followed by a new "October Road" at 10 p.m.

CBS airs new episodes of "Welcome To The Captain" and "Old Christine," while NBC has a new "Medium" at 10 p.m.

Finally, ABC Family airs "Kyle XY" and "Wildfire," beginning at 8 p.m. I'm assuming that since they run on a family network, they are appropriate for all audiences.


zodin2008 said...

I'm of course wholeheartedly against censorship, however, CBS is responsible for making sure the appropriate warning label is at the front of the episode.

While parents are ultimately responsible and should be responsible for what their child sees on the web or TV, if CBS is putting the wrong rating in front of a series to find a backdoor way of increasing viewership, that's dead wrong.

Yes, it's a slippery slope, but responsibility goes both ways. CBS should maybe beassessed a small fine, but they should not be forced to pull "Dexter" off the air.

And the fact is, most everything on all networks that airs at 9 or 10 PM EST is not necessarily kid friendly, and even some 8 PM stuff.

Gone are the days from my childhood with 8 PM shows such as Cosby, Family Ties and Who's the Boss? that were fine for kinds and adults; now the only thing really "safe" for a kid maybe game shows. Sad.

But yes, "Kyle XY" is a good show and actually safe for kids.

Anonymous said...

Cmon zodin, get with the times. It doesn't matter what rating is on the show. If you're a responsible parent, then watch the show yourself before your kid does and make your own judgment. If you don't like it, don't let him watch it. Take some PERSONAL responsibility.

hotspur said...

Responsibility is the hand of the parent. It is not up to "big brother" to protect your kids

Phillip Ramati said...

I agree that Dexter should have a stronger rating than TV-14 (I don't know how the ratings are assigned on TV), but at the end of the day, it's still up to the parents to learn about the shows they are watching.

I don't think CBS is trying to slip a lower rating on something as a way of tricking viewers.

And, Zod, what one family decides is "safe" may be offensive to another family. I think there are plenty of good things still on TV that are both kid-friendly (of a certain age) that will appeal to adults.

Once the individual (or watchdog groups) start labelling things as anti-family and try to get them yanked off the air, that's when they are overstepping their bounds. People need to police their own kids, not others'.

zodin2008 said...

People are mis-reading me. Yes, parents are ultimately responsible and I'm vehemently against censorship, but CBS has a responsibility to put the correct ratings on shows like "Dexter" as Phillip agrees with.