FTC Study

October 3, 2000

The recent pronouncements by the Federal Trade Commission about the marketing of violent entertainment to children has generated lots of news and wire service copy. Now that some of the news is dying down, I wanted to take a moment to talk about what the study says and doesn't say.

What it says should be obvious to anyone. The FTC documents that the entertainment industry markets its products to kids. Now that shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, unless you somehow believe that violent video games are really being purchased by grandmas. Of course, most of this entertainment is being marketed to adolescents.

And they also said the same for movies. Of the 44 teen-oriented movies rated "R" for violence, the FTC found that 80 percent were aimed at children under 17. So even though the film was not supposed to be seen by those under 17, that is precisely who the film makers were intending to watch the film.

The study says much less about the voluntary ratings systems. Essentially, they don't accomplish anything. An R-rating doesn't keep young kids from seeing a movie. An "explicit lyrics" sticker on a CD doesn't mean kids cannot buy it. In fact, the entertainment companies are the ones who decide if a sticker is placed on the album and also decide what it says.

The study also doesn't say anything about the political posturing in this arena. One politician stood up and expressed his outrage about the situation and then went off to Radio City Music Hall that night to collect millions in campaign contributions from some of the same people the FTC found guilty of marketing to kids.

Frankly, I think it's hard to criticize and shame Hollywood when you collect campaign donations from them the same day you express your outrage.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.