In the late 1970s, when Movieguide editor-in-chief Ted Baehr was director of the TV Center at City University of New York, he was immersed in studies of how the mass media influence children at different stages of cognitive development. Now a widely quoted media critic, Baehr continues to be concerned for the impact of movies on children.
Baehr, who grew up as the child of two Hollywood actors, is also concerned about the transformation of the entertainment culture from within. He has just completed writing So You Want to Be in Pictures?, which he told CT editor David Neff contains "a positive portrait of a lot of good people doing a lot of good things in Hollywood." The book will be published in January by Broadman & Holman.
In September the Rand Corporation released a study that showed teens who view the most sexually related material on television are twice as likely to engage in intercourse as those who watch the least. What do you make of it?
It's not surprising for people who have read the studies of the influence of media on everything from buying products to violence. Of course, not every youth has a propensity to copy sexual activity, although sexual scripts of behavior seem to be the most likely to be copied.
The rising concern today is not because there's a return to Victorian prudishness, but because of the increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Another study showed that 50 percent of sexually active kids have a sexually transmitted disease by the time they're 24 or 25 years old.
And how does the incidence of watching more sex-oriented scenes relate to the difference between cable programming and traditional broadcast?
Earlier studies point out that suggestion, innuendo, and jokes are as provocative, if not more ...1
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