Inappropriately rated TV shows too violent and gory

March 21, 2014 — by Carolyn Sun

On the TV screen, a character decapitates another with a swift swing of a machete, blood spraying across the screen. The camera cuts to the detached head, which rolls on the ground while the live character looks on nonchalantly. 

On the TV screen, a character decapitates another with a swift swing of a machete, blood spraying across the screen. The camera cuts to the detached head, which rolls on the ground while the live character looks on nonchalantly. 
Scenes like this one from the show “Supernatural” demonstrate how violent TV has become. It almost seems as if shows such as “The Walking Dead,” “Criminal Minds,” “American Horror Story” and “Hannibal” are trying to surpass one another in grisly content.
Not only is the gore repulsive and shocking to the faint-hearted, watching violent TV also desensitizes teenagers to real-life violence. According to the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, adolescents are especially susceptible to being influenced by violent shows since their brains, particularly the parts that control emotional behavior and responses to external events, are changing and developing.
Also, according to The New York Times, a growing body of research indicates that media violence leads to aggressive behavior in real life. After conducting a series of 42 studies involving nearly 5,000 participants, psychologists Craig A. Anderson and Brad J. Bushman say that violent media may be related to acts of aggression or violence later in life.
In fact, some shows have been compared to or connected with actual crimes. For example, according to multiple news websites, four murderers, one of whom was a teenager, have cited the show “Dexter,” which follows a serial killer narrator-protagonist, as their inspiration or have compared themselves to the lead character. Another teen killer, whom prosecutors compared to Dexter, had a tattoo of Hannibal, another fictional serial killer. 
Although it could just be that violent people enjoy watching violent TV shows, the prevalence of such examples of media-related violence suggests that these might be a causal connection. 
Making this spate of violent shows worse is that the TV Parental Guideline system is ineffective and often inaccurate. For instance, NBC’s “Hannibal,” which centers around a cannibalistic serial killer and a FBI criminal profiler, is rated TV-14, indicating that the program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14.
In reality, the barbaric content in “Hannibal” could horrify even mature adults. 
The show includes scenes displaying corpses in multiple states of mutilation and decay and a half-decapitated man’s intestines being pulled out to make into cello strings. Perhaps the most graphic scene occurs when a killer dissects a man, pulling his organs out, while the victim is still alive and awake.
Hannibal is a cannibalistic serial killer who murders people simply for his own twisted pleasure. The show even details his cooking process, provoking an immeasurable amount of horror and disgust. Even worse, the cannibal feeds his “gourmet” dishes to his ignorant “friends,” showing no remorse over his actions.
Although “Hannibal” has received critical acclaim, its misleading TV-14 rating can deceive unsuspecting parents and teenagers. Many other well-received shows, such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead” and “Bones,” which contain extensive gore and violence, are also rated TV-14, making one wonder just what matter would be considered inappropriate for teens. 
These programs should change their rating to TV-MA, which indicates that the TV content may be unsuitable for those under 17. They could also, as “Dexter” did for its first season, originally broadcast as TV-MA but rerun episodes edited down to TV-14.
Even if shows are unwilling to tone down the amount and degree of violent content, a TV-MA rating would properly warn parents and teenagers of their truly horrific content.
 
 
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