American parents who grew up in the countercultural bazaar of the late 1960s and the 1970s will recall the rich irony of a mainstream TV media that once refused to embrace the (relative) excesses of the music industry. The Doors made Ed Sullivan furious by singing "girl we couldn't get much higher" on national television. In today's popular culture, millions of children have to watch bared breasts on the Super Bowl before the networks wonder -- just wonder -- if they've gone too far.
The author of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" was MTV, but it remains utterly unshaken by the cultural earthquake it started. It's still the Temptation Channel, a 24-hour hangout selling easy sex, swagger and swearing -- all aimed, directly and deliberately, at children. MTV touts to advertisers that it's watched by 73 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls ages 12 to 19 and is profoundly influential in the lives and lifestyles of its young fans. MTV tells advertisers: "Young adults 15 to 17 are excited consumers and extremely impressionable. Now is the time to influence their choices."
How raunchy is MTV? Analysts at the Parents Television Council selected one week in March, when MTV goes wild with spring break festivities, including shows titled "Spring Break Survival Guide, "Spring Break Fantasies" and "How to Be a Spring Break Playa." In 171 hours of MTV programming, PTC analysts found 1,548 sexual scenes containing 3,056 depictions of sexual dancing, gesturing or various forms of nudity, and another 2,881 verbal sexual references. That averages out to about 18 physical and 17 verbal references to sex per hour. Imagine your pre-teen watching a "human sundae" competition, where men lick whipped cream placed on women's bodies -- with a cherry for each breast.