Entertainment News

Campaign battles corporate-sponsored smut

By Charlene Muhammad
Staff Writer | Last updated: Apr 30, 2008 - 11:49:00 AM

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(FinalCall.com) - A new study indicates daytime music video programming markets adult-themed content to children at alarming rates. Children were exposed to adult content every 38 seconds through some programs, the study found.


The Parents Television Council compiled “The Rap on Rap: A Content Analysis of BET and MTV’s Daytime Music Video Programming” for the Enough Is Enough Campaign for Corporate Responsibility in Entertainment.

For two weeks in December 2007, the council analyzed BET’s Rap City and 106 & Park and MTV’s Sucker Free on MTV programs for two weeks. The programs release new videos often and air during afternoon or early evening hours.

The initial survey showed instances of explicit language, sex, violence, drugs and other illegal activity that was so high, the council conducted an additional one-week analysis of the same programs in March to validate its findings. Things didn’t look much better:

•There were 1,342 instances of offensive/adult content in the 14 hours of programming studied during March for an average of 95.8 instances per hour, 1.6 instances per minute, or one instance of adult content every 38 seconds;

•There were 1,647 instances of the same content in the 27.5 hours of programming studied in December, for an average of 59.9 instances per hour or nearly one instance every minute;

•In the December study, sex constituted the majority (45 percent) of adult content shown in videos; explicit language (29 percent); violence (13 percent); drug use/sales (nine percent); and other illegal activity (three percent);

Rap City featured the highest levels of sex (31.6 instances), explicit language (25.3) and violence (11.7) during the December study. MTV’s Sucker Free contained the highest levels of drug use/sales (10 instances per hour) and other illegal activity (2.4 instances).

The study credited MTV with being slightly more responsibile in assigning appropriate age-based ratings to its music video programming and cited BET for carrying inappropriate age-based ratings for nearly every episode of 106 & Park.

Critics of the programming say the same corporation, Viacom, owns BET and MTV. BET founder Bob Johnson sold the network to Viacom for $3 billion in 2000.

The council recommended:

•increased parental monitoring of children’s media consumption and creating household rules and discussions about media use;

•pushing for greater advertiser responsibility concerning program content;

•empowering consumers to pick, choose and pay for only the channels they want entering their homes; and

•demanding accurate, transparent and consistent rating systems from networks.

“This is not entertainment. This is real life and people are embracing these notions of Black masculinity and manhood and are acting them out,” said the Reverend Delman Coates, organizer of the Enough is Enough campaign. Rev. Coates shared a recent incident in which a group of young men robbed another of his motorcycle. Though the victim walked away, willing to give up his bike, he was stabbed in the back anyway.

The Enough Is Enough campaign was organized last July to help end the mass marketing and distribution of negative and stereotypical images of Black people, said Rev. Coates. It is not as an attack on hip-hop, which is part of broader, socially conscious and politically relevant art form that has its roots in the Bronx, he said.

Enough Is Enough targeted at the “corporate creation of rap,” Rev. Coates explained. Corporations are responsible for the proliferation of images Blacks have long endured—Black men as pimps, gangsters and violence-prone thugs, and women as sexual objects, he said.

The top 10 companies who advertised across all three shows studied by the Parents Television Council were Procter & Gamble Co., 20th Century Fox, McDonalds Corp., Universal Studios, YUM! Brands, General Motors Corp., Vonage, Sony Computer Ent., Walt Disney Co. and AT&T Corp.

“We’re not saying that individual artists don’t have the right to say what want to say. We’re just saying that citizens and corporations shouldn’t subsidize it. There are hip hop artists out there right now making different messages that are clean, positive or socially uplifting but corporations don’t select that slice. Why?” asked Rev. Coates.

Some argue clean content simply does not sell. Enough Is Enough argues the content crisis boils down to profit over principles. In the early 90s when the late C. Delores Tucker sounded the alarm against the negative impact of gangster rap, many remained silent because the music genre was creating a new wave of Black entrepreneurs, he said.

Children are suffering now because adults elevated profit over principle and because Blacks accept less as a community than other people, Rev. Coates argued.

Michael Jackson was forced to change the lyrics of a song that uttered a negative word and MTV bleeped out a reference to White men in Kanye West’s “All Falls Down” video, he noted. MTV didn’t want to offend anyone, Rev. Coates said. The West song lyrics: “Drug dealer buy Jordans, crackhead buy crack. And the White man get paid off of all of that.”

Award-winning songstress Alicia Keys had to quickly clarify what she meant when a magazine reported that she felt gangster rap was created as a way to convince Black people to kill each other. She later said her comments about “gangsta rap” were taken out of context. “The point that I was trying to make was that the term was over-sloganized by some of the media causing reactions that were not always positive. Many of the ‘gangsta rap’ lyrics articulate the problems of the artists’ experiences and I think all of us, including our leaders, could be doing more to address these problems including drugs, gang violence, crime, and other related social issues,” she said in a press statement.