MTV boasts about its bad-behavior shows. On one of their web features touting the nastiest new video games, it raves over the Xbox game "Fable" with the words: "Take the moral low-road and watch your character grow horns as you fart loudly in public, cheat, steal, brawl, guzzle beer in the local taverns until you throw up all over yourself. In other words, it's like a 'Real World' highlight reel, baby."
Over the summer, one brave researcher for the Parents Television Council studied the foul language on the original airings of MTV "reality" shows from January to mid-July. In 136 shows adding up to 71 hours, there were 938 bleeped curse words (the big offenders, especially the F-bomb), and 542 non-bleeped curse words (such as "a--," "da--" and "he--."). Do the math. There's approximately one instance of foul language every three minutes . None of that onslaught would be caught by your supposedly foolproof V-chip, since MTV is skipping out on identifying its own filth.
Why would you bury an audience in bleeped F-bombs? Why would you encourage it? Is it funny? (Three years ago, Time magazine said the bleeped language on "The Osbournes" show "wasn't going to stay hilarious forever.") Or does it encourage the viewers to get annoyed with the bleeping and push the envelope further into the un-bleeped "real world" of profanity?
Here's at least one reason. If you thought fantasy football was for geeks, how about fantasy "reality show" games? MTV.com has an online competition for you to pick the sleaziest reality-show contestant. You earn "fantasy points" from your character "each time a Cast Member says a curse word in which 'bleeping' or audio 'dropping' is required." You also "earn" points toward a prize when your characters get naked ("blurring of the picture must occur"), for "hooking up/making out," for getting into "a verbal or physical fight," for cheating, and for bodily functions (defined as "Vomiting, Farting, Burping, Snot-Rocketing, Peeing and Spitting").
All this is one incredible innocence-nuking spectacle for the pre-teen audience. It's not a great routine for the teenagers, either. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that heavy exposure to sexual content on TV related strongly to teenagers' initiation of intercourse or their progression to more advanced sexual activities. MTV wants to take your boys and girls from "scoring" their shows at home to just plain "scoring."