Cartoons Aimed at Kids Contain Too Much Sex, Drugs and Profanity, PTC Study Says
"Family Guy," "American Dad," Cartoon Network, Adult Swim -- and, surprisingly, even Disney Channel's "Phineas and Ferb" -- are the focus of a critical report from the Parents Television Council.
Cartoons that target 12-year-olds make light of pedophilia, rape and prostitution, use profanity including the F-word and portray for comedic effect the use of crystal meth and cocaine.
Such are the findings of a study released Tuesday from the Parents Television Council that even knocked – albeit gently – the Disney Channel for helping to mainstream the term “sucks” during an episode of Phineas and Ferb.
The Disney Channel, though, received an A-grade for its animated content targeting children, as did Nick at Nite, while the PTC’s real criticism was aimed at Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, which both received an F.
While Adult Swim is ostensibly for adults, the PTC noted that it routinely attracts children as young as 12, is aired during primetime and often doesn’t use the ratings system to warn of raunchy content.
Cartoon Network, though, scored an even lower F on PTC’s scale because it failed to use the warning systems for sex and suggestive and crude language 100 percent of the time.
The PTC used the study to again call for the cable companies to adopt an a la carte system for pricing.
The PTC studied 123 episodes of shows that attract children, according to Nielsen data, airing on the Disney Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network and Nick at Nite over a three-week period and determined that adult content is featured once every 2 minutes and 19 seconds.
The PTC noted 208 incidents of drug use, 565 uses of profanity and 680 instances of sexual content.
The PTC also created a three-minute compilation video to illustrate its point. It contains scenes from American Dad that has the lead character praising a pedophile they call Randy the Molester for being “comfortable with who he is;” nudity in Family Guy and King of the Hill and oral sex in The Venture Brothers.
Winter compared animated TV nowadays to an “attractive nuisance,” and suggested that networks might be violating laws or be legally liable if harm to a child could be traced back to inappropriate TV content.
“Children are instinctively, intuitively drawn to animated programming and typically presume (it) is intended for young audiences,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “There are striking similarities between today’s minefield of adult animation and a common law in the U.S. addressing what is legally referred to as ‘attractive nuisance.’”