Skip to comments.TV's Increasing Female Body Count
Posted on 10/30/2009 4:24:14 AM PDT by Kaslin
Violence -- especially grotesque, gory or bloody violence -- has become a staple of network television during sweeps periods. But there's a new kind of violence surging -- violence against women. A new study by the Parents Television Council called "Women in Peril" reveals that between 2004 and 2009, CBS, NBC, and Fox (but not ABC) all green-lighted a significant increase in the incidents -- and degree -- of violence against women.
On average, during the five-year span, there was a 2 percent increase in overall violence during the primetime viewing hours. But during the same time period, there was a 120 percent increase in the number of times the audience would be exposed to a violent scene with a female victim.
CBS, the "CSI" network, led with 118 violent storylines on women, but NBC had the largest increase, at 192 percent. The forms of violence depicted included rape, stabbing, dismemberment, electrocution, poisoning, shooting, beating and torture. Death was regularly a result of the violence.
This stat tells it all: In a complete reversal of tradition, network programmers strongly favored violence depicted on screen (92 percent) rather than implied (5 percent) or merely described (3 percent).
Flipping channels in primetime can be a scary proposition with children in the room. Viewers of the NBC comic-strip-themed show "Heroes" saw images in flashback of the villain Sylar's evil deeds, including a scene of him stabbing a woman in the chest with scissors. On ABC's popular and sleazy "Desperate Housewives," viewers were shocked when one of the main female characters was shot in the chest while camping in the woods. It turned out to be a murderer's daydream, and his plot was conveniently foiled before he could kill off a major character.
Nothing's sacred. A smaller but growing category in network sensationalism is violence against female children, virtually unseen in the past (six incidents in the 2004 February and May sweeps). There were 30 such scenes on the same networks during the same time slots in 2009. CBS's "CSI" featured a plot about a teenaged girl found dead in a parking lot (with the corpse shown several times), and in flashback scenes, viewers saw her assaulted by a friend's father. For good measure, there was an attempted sexual assault while she was unconscious. A gorier scene aired on NBC's "Medium," where a suspect was shown photos of a teenage girl whose throat was slit and covered in blood.
The acceptable rules of engagement for female characters keep expanding. Chivalry is dead and so are lots of women on television, splayed in all kinds of horrific poses. Graphic violence and bloody crime scenes were not necessary for people to enjoy "Police Woman" or "Hill Street Blues." Now it's seemingly essential. It makes you sentimental for the days of shows like "Mannix," where people would get shot and fall down. Was it realistic? No. Neither was it horrific.
Then there's the bloody violence and brutality in cartoons. It's not as "real," and therefore perhaps not as bothersome as live action and because of that, it's far more gruesome.
Imagine what would have been the audience's reaction, children and adults alike, a generation ago if, watching "The Flintstones," suddenly Fred Flintstone were to smack Wilma in the face, or Bam-bam were to pummel Betty Rubble with his stick.
Yet on today's primetime cartoons, aimed at adults and children alike, the creators think it's hilarious to abuse their female characters. On "Family Guy," the lead character tells his son that he should be the "best leader of the household" he can. So the son pushes his rear end into his sister's face and flatulates, and then punches his mother in the face. On "American Dad," a female dentist saves the lead character from a shooting. When she approaches for a hug, he punches her in the face and takes her gun. See the "hilarious" pattern?
Then there's the bloody violence. On "Family Guy," a joke about the "extensive divorce procedure required by 18th century society" is illustrated by the lead character shooting his daughter dead with a musket. On "American Dad," there's so-called comedy in suggesting lawn sprinklers are a deadly household hazard. In a cautionary film, two little girls are shown playing catch with a doll, when one girl trips and lands on the sprinkler, which pokes through her chest cavity. The sprinkler showers the house, lawn and the other little girl with blood.
The creator of those shows recently had his contract renewed, reportedly at $100 million.
Second only to expressions of violence against Conservatives.
Fits in perfectly with portraying every white, male character as a thief, murderer, rapist, bigoted, sexist homophobe or as a fat adolescent type that only eats junk food in front of the TV while watching sports and who is little more than another child that the woman must care for.
At least twenty years ago I started noticing that there was more violence of ALL sorts on TELEVISION , than there was actually occurring in the entire country, on a day by day basis. And even shows that pretend to be about the “good guys” spend an inordinate amount of time stoking the perverse thrills of seeing what makes the “bad guys” bad guys. It’s sick.
Actually there’s less than there was when I was a Kid in the 50’s.
Back then every Saturday TV showed white men (Gasp!) killing those pesky redskins. Lots of them. If that was not bad enough, cowboys were killing other cowboys and gunslingers at a rate that made your heart stop. Even in cartoons, killing was a regular feature.
The only thing I don’t understand is why didn’t everyone in my generation become killers based on today’s theories?
The reason why is that we had whole families and morals back then and obeyed the law.
White males are the only ones who commit murder on TV and the victims are always innocent white females.
If a violent act is committed by a minority or a woman, it's only because that persons was forced to do so by religion or powerful corporate entities.
it’s either that or shows about vampyres.
Well...there is a little bit of that, but it is all covered in a heavy blanket of today's phony, sex drenched, narcissistic culture. Shapely actresses wearing tight revealing clothes pretend to be expert forensic technologists while they investigate murders that often have occurred in the midst of some sexual shenanigans. Then, to heighten our interest in the characters, we are invited into their personal lives and are supposed to share their angst about their latest shacking up dynamics. No thanks. I can get more reality out of Alice in Wonderland.
How many CSI shows do we need? Then you add in the other knock offs and it takes up what, half the TV schedule?
Desensitizing people to violence against women is the shariah way!
Dude, keep that down!!!
I’ve been waiting six years for a “CSI:Cleveland”.
Well... TV violence in the 1950’s consisted exclusively of able bodied men fighting one another, be they cowboy or Indian, cop or robber. Women and children were mostly sacrosanct.
Yes, it was a more law-abiding time. Prayer in schools, too.
“Desensitizing people to violence against women is the Sharia way!”
Congrats! That is the money quote of the day!
TV-sanctioned violence against women serving the cause of Islam....how could it possibly be harmful to Islam?
Answer: it isn’t harmful to Islam in any way. Think about that, my fellow “infidels”.
And one day I realized something else. In every prime time drama I was watching, all the protagonists were government employees in one form or another.
Women are combatants now, and the culture tells us that they are as capable at that as any man. Thus, this renewed violence against women is somewhat reflective of that.
Cop shows tend to be popular in rough times. Cop shows were hugely popular in the 70s recessions and unrest, then waned in the 80s as Reagonomics prevailed at home and abroad. Now we’ve had a decade of at least being told the economy is struggling plus terrorists. Cop shows provide the illusion of a safety net, of highly skilled dapper professionals protecting us from the horrors of the world. These CSI type shows don’t say we’re violent and decadent, they say we’re scared and looking for help.
“These CSI type shows dont say were violent and decadent, they say were scared and looking for help.”
Very interesting thoughts. My wife likes to watch them and I don’t so that really has me wondering.
We need to kill more men on television for balance.
Yes, In the 70’s many of them were private eyes.
Dude, keep that down!!! Ive been waiting six years for a CSI:Cleveland.
Hang in there, it is probably in the works. Soem cities like Detroit, DC, and Chicago are so dangerous they can’t
get actors to go out on the streets.
They’re going to do one episode of “CSI: Camden” where all but two of the CSI people are killed. The two survivors escape to Philadelphia, where they come to wish they were killed too.
“Back then every Saturday TV showed white men (Gasp!) killing those pesky redskins.”
Yeah, I had my pair of trusty Fanner 50’s with white imitation pearl handles. We were always ready to shoot Indians. Although their weren’t very many in the burbs, just the mailman.
Cop shows provide a protection figure, women tend to like protection figures. My mom was big into the 70s cop shows, Kojak, Beretta, Mod Squad, Police Woman, Hawaii 5-0, and Barney Miller were the shows of my youth. I don’t really like the modern CSI shows, too much techno-babble, not enough personality, but the networks are doing some throwback style shows too.