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Censorship

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Censorship

Have you ever been to the movies and denied a ticket because you weren’t old enough? Or, have you ever attempted to buy a game, and, of course, you got turned down, because, once again, you were not old enough? Although, you probably do know why you were denied or turned down, because of those great (or evil?) warning or rating systems plastered on almost every form of media nowadays. Though, hardly does it ever occur to you that this is a form of censorship. Censorship? Now, what the *BLEEP* is censorship? Simply put, censorship is the process in which a higher authority dictates what you see and hear. This higher authority, whether it be your parents, the FCC, the ESRB, or some sleazy politician, bases this dictation on their opinion on what is and what isn’t appropriate for you to witness. Censorship is NOT a new issue; it has always been a strong issue throughout history. In fact, censorship dates as early as the 399 B.C., where Socrates’ works were banned from the public eye, and he was executed (History of Censorship). Censorship exists in almost all types of media, including music, television, movies, literature, video games; the list in endless. Censorship has become a part of everyday life, whether it be liked or not. Many people are totally oblivious to how big of a role censorship plays in our lives and to the fact of how rapidly it is spreading across the world. Through discussing the roles that censorship plays in television and in videogames, you will begin to better understand how the issue of censorship is involved in the world today and how big of a part it plays in your life.

Firstly, let’s enter into the world of censorship through the oh-so-beloved box we call television. We’ve all heard of shows of the 1950’s through the 1960’s. Shows such as the Dick Van Dyke Show and I Love Lucy were watched and loved by much of present day’s adult population. Shows such as these compared to shows of today’s television were so heavily censored that most modern youth would label it as “insane.” In today’s world, it is not hard task, in fact it is fairly easy, to watch prime time television on many television stations and find vulgar language galore, open discussions and joking on sex, violence and so on and so forth. It’s almost become a staple for each new series, ranging from comedy to drama, to try to push the limit of censorship and see

how far they can go. You would never in a million years find content event remotely close to this in earlier television. In The Dick Van Dyke Show, sexual relations between Rob and Laura Petrie could only be implied. In fact, in their bedroom, there were two different beds in which they slept in (Worringham, Richard and Buxton, Rodney). Incidents like this swarmed television in that era. Another prime example is I Love Lucy. On this show, it was forbidden to use even the word pregnant, a word of everyday life and use. Censorship such as this would be laughed upon in today’s world. All of this took place in about the mid 1960’s-- that’s only forty years ago! Forty years, and look how much censorship has evolved, or rather, devolved. Not only have the shows of today surpassed this level of censorship in every possibly way, but they are continuing to push the envelope with more racy and vulgar content. If this pace continues, you can only imagine what censorship will be like another forty years from now, if existent at all. All this said, censorship in television does indeed have a purpose. As previously stated, violence, sexual themes, and language are all common parts in many television programs today. The purpose of censorship in television is to prevent children from being exposed to this type of content, as so the child does not become influenced in a negative way. In 1996, the “TV Parental Ratings Guidelines” was established. This is a television rating system, in which, each television show is applied a rating which shows at the beginning of the show in the upper left-hand corner of the television screen. These ratings advice parents on the content of the television program and whether or not the content is appropriate for children (Gould, Kaye). The ratings are as follows: Y, Y7, G, PG, 14, MA. TV-Y is means that the program is design to be appropriate for all small children. TV-Y7 programs are designed for children ages 7 and above. TV-G programs are directed toward a general audience, where most parents would find the content suitable for all ages. TV-PG programs suggest parental guidance, in which, the program may contain material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. In programs rated TV-14, parents are strongly cautioned as these programs contain some material that many parents would find inappropriate for children less than 14 years of age. Finally, TV-MA programs are designed for mature audiences only, which may contain graphic violence, explicit sexual activity, or crude language

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