Parents Television Council doesn’t just watch everything on prime time television, it takes notes and it keeps score. According to a recent report, it has discovered that the use of a certain word for a certain body part has doubled from 2001-2002 season to 2010-2011. But don’t get too excited.
The word is penis, and according to a report by T.L. Stanley published by the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, the word was used 30 times during the earlier 2001-2002 broadcast season.
The tally has actually more than doubled – the word was uttered 63 times during the 2010-2011 season.
PTC’s Tim Winter noted that the small study notes the “progression of rauch,” and said that networks seem to think they need to go into that programming territory because they think it’s funny or that it is necessary to be successful.
RBR-TVBR observation: It sounds shocking when you say something has doubled, but there really isn’t a whole lot of sting to the charge when the base amount was tiny to begin with.
We’ll make a few points. Over the course of a year, we’re talking about just more than one penis mention a week. An average citizen, who can only watch one prime time program at a time, is very likely to miss it just on the law of averages. And let us say that while it’s true that certain programs are more likely to use the word than others, that makes it all the easier for viewers who don’t wish to hear the word to watch something else in confidence that unwanted penis mentions are highly unlikely to enter their living room by surprise.
Second, broadcasters are in the business of entertaining viewers, not alienating them. We’d suggest that broadcast programming has if anything been criticized for being too eager to please those in the cultural center, and also is often a few steps behind prevailing cultural standards. PTC and others may long for “I Love Lucy” or “Brady Bunch” standards, but the rest of us are living in the year 2012.
Finally, the FCC is not being inundated with indecency complaints. PTC wears its outrage on its sleeve for all to see, but it doesn’t appear to us that there are all that many average television viewers following suit.