In what seems like a dispatch from the early days of South Park and Family Guy, the Parents Television Council’s latest target is animated TV shows. The watchdog group says they’ve discovered “shocking” levels of adult content during a study that looked at animated programs on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Nick at Nite, and Disney Channel.
“We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels and ramming into doors,” wrote PTC President Tim Winter, stunned animation has evolved beyond Tom & Jerry. “Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth.”
That’s right: The average cartoon on Disney Channel contains rape, cocaine, STDs, and crystal meth. Wait, what? We circled back to the PTC on this. (Whether you agree with their politics or not, they’re always really polite.) See their explanation on that point further down in this piece.
Before we delve into Disney, though, let’s inspect another dire bullet point warning in PTC’s release: “There is now more sexual content on these cartoons than violence.”
In order to understand that, you have to get into the PTC mindset: Characters having sex is worse than characters committing violent acts.
The overall point the PTC is making here is that many parents see animated shows on TV and don’t realize they have grown-up content in them that might not be appropriate for their kids. That, actually, is a totally fair point. But the PTC can’t just make that point — instead, it makes the situation sound far more shocking. And that’s annoying.
Now, back to that Disney point: Turns out, the PTC says Disney actually got an “A” grade in its study, despite being cited in their press release about naughty sneak-attack cartoons on cable. In fact, these are the worst specific offenders, according to the PTC:
· Family Guy (Adult Swim) (TV-14)
· The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim) (TV-MA) (The PTC notes, “The study period only contained two episodes of Venture Bros. More episodes may have revealed more content.”)
· American Dad (Adult Swim) (TV-14)
· King of the Hill (Adult Swim) (TV-PG)
So all these shows actually air during the same cartoon block. Which, by the way, is titled Adult Swim, and, incidentally, airs in the late hours. Three of the four most naughty shows are years-old repeats of Fox shows that we’ve known are naughty and that the PTC has protested many times before. And two of them (Family Guy and American Dad) are shows by Seth MacFarlane, who has a long history of fighting with the PTC. (He once famously described their protests as “like getting hate mail from Hitler”). In sum: Western civilization is not quite collapsing. Now you better go outside before TV takes another 22 minutes off your life span…