Most American parents display an optimism about their children living in a richer, more technologically advanced world and as they grow, that they'll be healthier with a longer life expectancy. All that said, there's also a remarkable pessimism about the moral decline they are bequeathing to the next generation.
A new cultural-values survey of 2,000 American adults performed by the polling firm of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates for the Culture and Media Institute reveals a strong majority, 74 percent, believes moral values in America are weaker than they were 20 years ago. Almost half, 48 percent, agree that values are much weaker than they were 20 years ago.
Why the pessimism? Is the answer right in front of them, in their own children, or their children's friends? Or is the answer more indirect, gleaned from staring at the popular culture? For most, a leading indicator of moral decline is the media. Clearly, Americans look into their television sets and get a high-definition dose of Hollywood's take on values. Sixty-eight percent of Americans in the survey said the media are having a detrimental effect on moral values in America.
Americans place heavier blame on the entertainment media, but they blame the news media as well, with its emphasis on sex, violence and ditzy head-shaving celebrities. Why do even supposedly serious news outlets devote hours of airtime to airheads like Paris Hilton, whose ticket to fame was her old-wealth surname and her talent on "private" sex tapes?
The agreement is remarkable across political and religious subsets. Not only do 73 percent believe the entertainment media has a negative effect on America's commitment to moral values, that's a sentiment shared by Republicans (86 percent) and Democrats (68 percent); conservatives (80 percent) and liberals (64 percent); even religious types identified as orthodox (82 percent) and mostly secular progressives (62 percent).
Many worry every time a popular show like NBC's "Heroes" threatens to show a mutilated corpse or someone getting the top of their skull sawed off. Many are saddened by grotesque Comedy Central attempts to mock God in 735 creative ways. On the new series by "comedienne" Sarah Silverman, the audience was treated to Silverman having a one-night stand with God. When she wakes up the next morning disgusted with the deity, she tells him she has to help a friend move, and ultimately knees him in the groin when he tries to extend the relationship. People ask: What have we done to deserve gratuitous programming like this?