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Spielberg wants kids protected from TV

StevenSpielberg.jpgSteven Spielberg has said that TV is irresponsible and he suggests that the programming isn't good for children.

I expect that the TV networks will be cancelling almost all of Spielberg's career from their schedules immediately, after all most of them aren't exactly child friendly are they? Will we see your ten hour mini-series about the war in the Pacific becoming child friendly?

His comments come from Yahoo News:

"Today we are needing to be as responsible as we can possibly be, not just thinking of our own children but our friends' and neighbors' children," Spielberg told an audience Monday at the International Emmys board of directors meeting...

...He also said that when his favorite TV show of the new season, NBC's "Heroes," showed someone cut in half in the 9 p.m. hour, he sent his younger children out of the room. "I'm a parent who is very concerned," he said.

Eh? I don't see that many child friendly films on your slate Mr Spielberg, perhaps two or three out of about eleven that we know of. So what's all the double standards? Are you really suggesting that TV is responsible for the crumbling of our society?

I hate that petty minded, short sighted debate. TV and movies are a reflection, not an instigator, of the issues in our society. Target the problems, not the symptoms. Should we stop people talking about all the bad things in the world too? Hide them, make them go away...

Sorry...deep breath...What do you think on the matter?



It's not just tv, but films can also be irresponsible, but that's another story.

I think what he meant is showing these types of shows and films at 9 pm, which is really prime time tv. Maybe he really should be sending his kids to bed before 9 pm. And not even the violence, what about the use of swearing and cursing that in all of the lines you can really only remember the F's?

I doubt if Mr Spielberg has double standards in his comments, surely as an intelligent filmmaker he would know that he has done films that arent kids-friendly Munich, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List to mention just a few, but these films have messages to say thus the depiction of violence thrown in with it. Not owning a box myself I dont know exactly what Heroes is about. I suppose if Mr. Spielberg is a responsible parent, he has not shown any of the films he made we deem as not kids friendly.

I refuse to believe that TV or cinema can cause any harm. The harm comes from other sources, more difficult to identify and eradicate. Mr. Spielberg is playing the morallistic... heh... I wonder what would he think about Kevin Spencer.

And why can´t we admit that children are much mature and intelligent than we trend to believe?

Peter says, I refuse to believe that TV or cinema can cause any harm.

Because we forgot to mention violent videogames.

You might change your mind when you read these links Peter:



"I refuse to believe that TV or cinema can cause any harm."


Yet ANOTHER non-parent chimes in with worldly wisdom.


Richard, I think this will be a VERY GOOD feature article.

By the way I have a question, I posted just before Vic (hi Vic!) but my post isnt shown, has it got something to do with the url links in my post that you need to review first?

Spielberg is right. It's not the be-all/end-all to the world's problems, but it is certainly a contributor.

And there's a difference between films and TV. TV is on all hours of the day for free and kids have instant access to it anywhere they go. If Spielberg makes a movie that is rated R - that's not a double standard because it's rated R for a reason and would not let his kids watch that either.

We need more Cosby/Spielberg's in this world today.


Simone - yes, it's about the links.

Vic - Oh come now, just because you are a parent you understand and know things that us non-parents do? I have kids in the family, I read. Surely I can understand too.

Some of the parents in my street seem to love racing their cars along it, whereas me, non-parent with a sports car, goes along between 15-20 mph. How can that be, I have no children.

You have kids so your minds are on them most of the day, but that doesn't mean that non-parents don't understand the concerns of parents.

I'm with Peter on this though. Blaming TV and the movies is like saying that banning guns would stop gun crime, or banning drugs would stop drug use.

Drewbacca - There is a difference, yes you're right, and kids under 12 or 18 never see films that are rated above them. I've seen children in a cinema they shouldn't be in according to the films rating, probably about every restricted film I've seen (R or not, whether Spielberg's have been R's or not).

I think it is double standards on his part, there is a 9pm watershed which is as much warning as the ratings on films and he's speaking out about TV when he continues to create adult material for both Film and TV and doesn't obey the 9pm watershed with his children? That's a bit of a mess from a moralistic standpoint.

These mediums are not causing the issues they are reporting and reflecting the issues. What needs to be done is address the issues where they start out, with the people and their attitudes to one another.

As for the links if a psychologist says that videogames, film and TV cause people to act violently and kill each other, are they right? Are we believing them because they have the title psychologist? Just because someone claims they killed because of TV, should we believe them?

There were serial killers, rapists, murderers, violent crimes, etc in the victorian days, they didn't have TV, cinema or videogames. These are not the causes, it's the people.

I remember a killer blaming Kojak for making him kill people, that was one of his defenses in court - should he have had a lighter sentance because of it? I mean if we're saying that TV and film have an affect then how can we blame him?

I've watched horrific films and played violent videogames from an early age and I've never committed a violent act and would never consider killing anyone. Why is that?

Oh this is a good idea for a feature, everyone's gonna get involved...shall I write something up tomorrow?

Rich, but werent you planning to write up something on Spielberg in a feature article anyway, and then, there will be spin-off of this topic and Spielberg is associated with it again, what a coincidence. How freaky can that be?

I know, there's actually a list of features that I haven't even written up on the Filmstalker Hive yet...a huge list too.

Of course. I watched violent movies and depravity when I was a kid too. But I knew my parents disapproved. If my parents had just let me watch whatever I wanted without a care in the world, my psyche would be much different.

Would I grow up to become a murderer? Probably not, but my attitude about life and death and how to treat women and about morals and manners in general would be significantly different for the worse.

As far as kids in the R rated theaters, that's not Spielberg's fault. Theaters and parents are supposed to abide by THE LAW which says kids can't be in there.
I curse all the time (not in front of kids). So does that make me a hypocrite when I tell a 5 year old it's not appropriate for him to say "shit" on the playground?


Actually Drewbacca, it does.

What's right for me is not right for you, and that's what he's saying. It's okay in film, but not on TV.

Now I never said he could control parents, but the industry he makes not suitable for children content for is far from perfect so shouldn't he address that first? Or even address the content he's making for TV that is less than suitable for children.

I just think it's poor show for him to say this when he's one of the ones creating the adult content for TV and Film.

Plus he's wrong to blame TV for the problems in society, they are problems in society not TV. Hiding it from general knowledge and understanding does not remove it from society.

As far as I know, the most violent people are usually those who don´t go to the movies, watch TV, or play videogames at all.

It´s easy to blame shows, instead of adressing the disfunctions in families. A simple shout or slap inside the four walls can make a million times more damage than all Tarantino filmography.

And I insist: kids distinguish very clearly the difference between reality and fiction. Only those who have mental, social or family troubles are teased by... whatever. It can be TV, or a comic they read, or your face when you look at them.

The guns are already loaded. It´s irrelevant what is the trigger. What matters is the circumstance that loaded the gun.

So, please, a bit less of hipocrisy on that. No pun intended. I just wanna make a point.

Totally agree Peter. Very well said.

Having your own child is VERY different from "having kids in the family". I don't know how to describe it other than make a comparison to the Spock/McCoy discussion in Star Trek III where Spock tells McCoy that in order to discuss his insights on death McCoy needs to have died as well. Sounds silly, but there it is. Same thing for being a parent. "Understanding the concerns of parents" and being a parent are completely and utterly different and you cannot understand (sorry, I stand by that) until you are one and are responsible for a child 24/7 and what kind of adult they will turn out to be.

My comment was directed at the fact that I just read so many crap comments online (not on this site in particular) posted by young 20-somethings who are just oh-so-wise and worldly and of COURSE they have more wisdom than someone who has lived twice their years. (Not that ALL young 20-somethings have that attitude, just most of those in the blogosphere, IMO.)

And where in the quotes above did Spielberg say watching TV would turn kids into ax murderers? Please don't roll your eyes at my comment and then exaggerate(sp) wildly to make your point.

Of COURSE seeing certain things can be damaging to kids who aren't old enough to process them. That, in my opinion, is what as known as a no-brainer.

My daughter is 10 years old and although "Aliens" is my all-time favorite movie, I wouldn't dream of having her sit through it with me. Do I think it would turn her into a violent felon? Of course not. Do I think it would numb her just a bit more to real world violence, terrify her, introduce her to foul language she's never heard before and possibly give her nightmares? Yes, I do.

My wife refuses to watch Heroes after the autopsy scene, theres no way my 8 year old is going to be watching. It's called PARENTAL RESPONSIBILTY. You know? Not rocket science. Sheesh.

wow, this ones an interesting topic.

Lets analyze some facts.

1. Spielberg made a valid point(however he could back up his point by making movies that agree with it).
2. TV, Films, video games etc are violent. So are some bedtime stories, cave paintings and nature.
3. The violence in today's medium isn't any different from the past, per se, but it is more accessible.
4. being a parent doesn't neccessarily make you an expert on children(note: it DEFINITELY makes you an expert on your own child, just not on ALL children.
5. Parents are the final barrier(and quite rightly) have the final say on what their own kids should be exposed to.
6. Limiting the amount of TV/Games/Films a child watches is more important in todays dwindling society. Remember they learn directly from their parent's, so some could argue that violence by the parent's is far more damaging.
7. We need better role models How many of you use an mp3 player on the bus/train and say nothing when entering a lift full of strangers? Get home from a hard days work and then send child to bedroom/ignore partner while surfing the web or watching tv.

TV/games/films could be less violent or viewing better controlled.i.e. setup box that requires a pin for certain films to be accessed(ala sky style)

BUT these mediums are not directly responsible for the increase in violence.

Fact of the matter is, there are more people on the planet than ever before while there are less resources available. The percentage of nutjobs is the same(probably), but as the world population increases and demand outstrips supply, humanity will surely suffer.

Turning the TV off won't fix it. However, tolerance of other people and understanding why/when/what is a real start.

i haven't read anyone else's reactions to this, Richard, but i've got to weigh in here. I have to disagree with you on this one, man.

The way I see it, films should be held to a different standard than television, because films are basically pay per viewing ( in the cinema anyway ) and television is free and readilly available.

I'm not saying i'm in favor of censoring television at all, and in fact I love edgy type stuff. But I think his opinion is a valid one and I dont think he's contradicting himself in what he says : )

Maybe the best middle ground here would be to schedule darker or more negatively influential programming after 8: 00 pm or so. That used to be the case in America...not sure what's going on over there these days.

This reminds me of the controversy around E.C. comics in the 50s, which lead to the comics code, and the end of one of the most brilliant periods in comics history. Make your own research: Bill Gaines, Frederic Wertham and "The Seduction of the Innocent".

I'm afraid I have to agree with Mr. S on the particular show he singles out, Heroes. It's a really good show, watch it if you can but it runs in the same general time slot as Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Jericho etc. all of which I watch with my son who is 12. Heroes without warning drops in R rated decapitation scenes and worse for no particularly good reason. They contibute nothing to the plot, they are just gross for grossness sake. Like Mr. S I settled down to this show with my son and hit the off on the remote PDQ when it suddenly went out of bounds.

Mogulus - I don't see how he can create adult content for TV and then verbally bring it down the next in a public forum. Either don't make the content or do a deal so that when it is made it abides by some broadcasting rules.

On the watershed front are you saying there's not a rule like that in the US? I assumed that there was everywhere. In the UK we have a 9pm watershed, so you get your kids off adult broadcast TV by 9pm. If they need to be watching TV after that it's cartoon channels and DVD's.

Vic - I agree with your 20-something comments, but I still believe you can care for and understand parenting and children without having your own. It's not something that magically appears in your brain come the birth of a child, it's always there, just intensely focused now.

I don't believe that seeing images can damage a child's brain, if that were really the case kids would be growing up unable to speak because of teletubbies.

I remember seeing a program on videogame violence and the lead reporter was obviously biased. She was trying to get kids to say that they were affected by the games and that they are real. What they actually were saying was don't be daft, it's just pretend, it's not real, I wouldn't every do...etc.

(My blog entry about the show)

Correct though, he did not say that TV turned children into axe murderers, but he did imply that children are affected by our TV and they need to be protected from it. That is the start of the all too common and misdirected debate.

Pablo - very well put.

Lars - I agree. The problems are about bad parenting, no respect, poor education, nothing for kids to do or be involved in, no serious punishment for crimes from small to large, no rehabilitation just a stay in prisons filled with criminals and repeat offenders to learn from, etc, etc.

My humble two cents:

Knowledge is power. If you're content to let technology babysit for you then you allow television, film and video games to teach your children right from wrong. This is not the intended goal of any of these mediums, therefore it is almost inevitable that your kids will develop some pretty warped morals.

If YOU take the time to teach your children right from wrong (and more importantly fact from fiction) then no amount of violent entertainment can detract from that.

People were often violently dispatched in Shakespeare's plays too, but we force-feed that to our kids in school with the consent and blessing of most parents.

"I don't believe that seeing images can damage a child's brain,"

Dude, have you ever seen "A Clockwork Orange"? LOL!!


Yes...but they never really made him watch all those bad images? I never new Kubrick was into forcing his actors into method acting!

IS0100 - very well said!


Getting back to the original post -

What adult programming are you talking about that Speilberg made? I know he did Amazing Stories in the 80's and that "Taken" mini-series on Sci-Fi Channel a while back. What else?

All his violent or "R" rated stuff is again, pay-per-view isn't it?

And I'm sorry, all of you claiming that the depravity kids see on TV and film doesn't effect them in the slightest is just stupid. Why? Because it's so obviously stupid. Take a set of twins, place one in a church-going home where TV is not allowed and the kids read books and play baseball in the street. The other goes to a socio-economically equivalent home with roughly the same parents and give the kid GTA to play and let him watch "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Big Lebowski" and listen to some death metal band all day. Then come back in 18 years and see which kid is more screwed up.

Entertainment violence is of course not entirely responsible for the world's crime and depravity. But please, to suggest that it has nothing to do with it is again, just stupid.

I think many of you are taking the statement too literally. Of course a kid recognizes that he can't drop an anvil on someone's head and everything will be fine. But they also are influenced on how the "hero" of the film treats women. Does he look cool when he smokes a cigarette? Does being estranged from his wife, have no job and sleep in his car make him look cool (The Last Boy Scout)? Is divorce or single parenthood a perfectly acceptable thing that everyone in the world does by choice? Is abortion a good idea and an acceptable method of birth control? The list goes on and on and on about how TV/film shows kids what the world is like and what they think about it. Kids are influenced by EVERYTHING, the more GOOD things they are exposed to, the better. The more BAD things they are exposed to, the worse off they (and everyone around them) will be.

If you disagree with this, my kids (if I ever have them) will not be coming over to your house to "play" with your kids and watch "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Cheech and Chong." They'll stay at my house and play with LEGOS and be productive.

Ramble on...

Pay per view? Not in the UK, or I'm guessing a lot of non-US countries.

For TV based content: Taken, Band of Brothers, ER, The Pacific War (production) - Not sure about Into the West and High Incident as I haven't seen these myself. That's not looking at the films obviously, films which are shown on non-pay per view TV in the UK.

Drew, it hasn't affected me or all my friends that I know, or their kids, or my families kids, or my family, etc, etc. In fact I do not know anyone that has been affected in such a way as is oft described.

Sure bring twins up in completely different lifestyles and they may develop different personalities, but can you definitely say that's down to the music, games and films?

Actually there was a Channel 4 (UK TV) programme recently (or it might have been BBC2's Horizon) that looked at twins in their later years that were seperated at a young age and placed in different families and brought up differently, it showed that they grew up remarkably similar. I think it was one set in particular. Sorry I really can't remember what it was, I'll go searching.

I can't remember who it was who said that if movies had no effect on people at all they wouldn't be worth watching, but it's not a bad point. I think there are enough documented cases of people doing stupid and/or bad things based upon something they saw in a film or on TV that denying that films/TV can inspire a person to do bad stuff is a bit foolish.

However, the question then needs to be asked: who exactly are the people getting these negative inspirations? Because they can't be among the majority of audience members, for the obvious reason that the majority of audience members evidently aren't negatively inspired by the films and TV programs they watch. Otherwise the world's crime rate would have to be incomprehensibly large, because if the corrupting influence ascribed to movies and TV is really that great, then surely everyone who witnessed a crime being committed would be inspired to go and imitate it. And that's obviously not happening, so surely movies and TV actually can't be having that much effect on people.

Spielberg's just doing what generations of moralising bores have done throughout the ages, i.e. picked on an easy, high-profile target rather than engage in the much more complex and time-intensive task of trying to actually solve a problem. Cracking down on the content of TV programming so that kids won't be exposed to certain images is great, because you can look like you're doing something without having to address issues like why those kids are taking weapons to school, why they're doing so many drugs, etc.

Responsible TV? Not an inherently bad idea. People just need to not delude themselves as to it being the absolute solution to all our woes. And I find it vaguely amusing that Spielberg is the one complaining about the reprehensibility of TV when a TV broadcast of his own film Schindler's List was the subject some years ago of a complaint by a US Congressman who objected to the nudity and violence in it being shown on TV.


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