Marketing Violence

September 21, 2000

Last week the Federal Trade Commission released a study that concluded that members of the entertainment industry routinely targeted children with products their rating systems say are supposed to be off-limits. This included producers of movies, music, and video games.

The Motion Picture Association of America defines an R-rated film as one in which children younger than 17 must be accompanied by an parent or guardian. Out 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 marketing plan of one of those violent films read, "Our goal was to find the elusive teen target audience and make sure everyone between the ages of 12-18 was exposed to the film." I don't think their intentions could be made any clearer.

Nevertheless, Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America, criticized the FTC's definitions of "teen" and "violent." He said their attempts to quantify film-making practices were a "dance in the shadows."

Well, I appreciate the FTC bringing this issue to the light. Many critics of the entertainment industry have been speaking out on this issue, but I believe that this latest investigation will provide new impetus for action.

Already there have been bold statements from a number of retail stores. For example, Kmart announced that it would use bar-code scanners to prompt cashiers to check for identification when young people try to buy mature-rated video games. Wal-Mart also announced it would follow a similar policy. Sears and Montgomery Wards have decided to stop selling the games at all. I applaud the FTC for their recent investigation of violent movies and games.

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