TV ‘Pornografication’ at New Heights by Ben Stein

TV has become pornography for many channels at many times of the day — pornography of sex and far, far worse, pornography of violence. The amount of callous killing and maiming and cruelty on cable TV goes far beyond the amount of nudity and sex.

Jack Lord starred in CBS’ original long-running series “Hawaii Five-0.”

In the early 1970s, I, your servant, had a little black-and-white Panasonic TV when I lived in a Spartan “preceptor’s suite” at what was then College V of the University of California at Santa Cruz. For the first time in my life, I watched a good deal of prime-time TV.

At that time, there were three networks and only crime shows and comedies. I cannot recall all the shows I watched, but “Hawaii Five-0,” “Mannix,” and “The Rockford Files” come to mind, plus the comedies of the day like “Mary Tyler Moore” and “All in the Family.”
I noticed that there were patterns in how subjects were presented. In cop show, for example, the businessman was almost always the villain. The military came in for severe hits. Religious people were usually hypocrites and charlatans. Small towns were dangerous, smoldering pits of evil, especially racist evil.

On comedies, fun was made of conservatives and anyone with money was a fool.

I observed this for a few years at UCSC and afterwards on my faithful, flickering Panasonic. Then I wrote a book about it, called “The View from Sunset Boulevard.”

The book had not just the observations I had made of TV shows’ political and sociological points of view, but also the view of many TV writers and producers on the same subjects: business, capitalism, faith, small towns, the military.


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