Here is an email exchange I had last week with Karina, a college student interested in the issue of movie, television content. I wanted to share with you a typical request that I receive quite frequently from students across the country who are concerned about the amount of violence, profanity and sex in movies and on television. They are eager to find out what, if anything, can be done to improve the entertainment landscape. I’m glad to give them an honest and hopeful response. The insights we gain due to our access to the highest levels within the entertainment industry reveal many encouraging signs.
I'm privileged to be in a position to encourage and equip young people like Karina.
Hello,I am Karina (last name withheld) and I'm writing a paper for a college assignment that requires the use of sources. I would like to source The Dove Foundation in an interview. I would very thankful for any responses regarding the topic I am writing about.
Q: Why do you think it is important for people to restrict what they watch?
A: The adage "garbage in - garbage out" certainly applies where media consumption/influence is concerned. There are over 600 independent studies that directly attribute media influence to human behavior - for good or bad. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following excellent guidelines for television watching. http://www.aap.org/publiced/BR_TV.htm. I've always been amused by television producers who deny their hour-long violent or sexually suggestive programs have any influence on viewer behavior; while at the same time television advertising executives claim that a 60 second commercial can change the buying habits of the very same viewers. Recently two studies coincided to make that point. First, Barna Research stated that church leaders, once the third greatest influence on children (after parents and peers) have been replaced by entertainment media. Church leaders fell out of the top ten. Couple that with the recent American Academy of Pediatrics paper (http://aap.org/advocacy/releases/nov08studies.htm) which ties teen pregnancy to the amount of exposure to sexually themed television programs, and you have pretty compelling data.
Q: Have movies became worse (more filthy) than the past 5 years? 10 years?
A: This is a trend that Harvard Medical School in 2007 called "Ratings Creep" which states that movie ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R) have become increasingly lax. I addressed this subject in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Starz Network. Here is a link http://www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=efa24b495f00d30b29e8
Q: Why do you think filth sells so well? Shouldn't producers be more concerned with a good story than an attractive star?
A: I agree with your assertion that producers should be more concerned with the story. However, filth doesn't sell as well as some would have you believe. There will always be an audience for coarse or filthy entertainment. Similarly, a streaker or a bridge jumper will attract a certain crowd of curiosity seekers. We released the film profitability study in 2005 points to the contrary. We showed that while Hollywood produced 12 times more R-rated movies than G, the average G-rated film produced 11 times more profit per film than their R-rated counterparts. Here is a link to that study. http://www.dove.org/research/DoveFoundationROI-Study2005.pdf. To identify the reasons for those data, we surveyed 8 million people and asked them their opinions of the entertainment industry. Here is a link to a report with their responses. http://dove.org/opinionpoll.asp.
Q: What can be expected in the future? Do you think movies will become more twisted and wicked?
A: It's always difficult to see into the future. I believe that Hollywood like most industries is amoral in that they see their first priority as satisfying their stockholders/investors. There is another powerful force at play in Hollywood that greatly influences decisions; and that is ego. However, here are a few encouraging signs that kinder, gentler movies are on the rise. With 18 years' experience as a family advocate to the entertainment industry, we have trusted relationships with top level executives in most major film studios. Four filmmakers deleted profanities from their theatrical releases in order to qualify for the Dove Family-Approved Seal. Twentieth Century Fox has developed an entire brand of movies that are family friendly under the banner "FoxFaith" located at http://www.foxfaith.com/. Paramount is beginning to focus more of their DreamWorks budgets on animated movies like Shrek, Madagascar and Wallace and Grommet . Sony Pictures has a faith and family division in their home entertainment division. Sony Co-chairman, Amy Pascal just publicly committed major resources to "catch up" with Disney in serving the family audience. (See LA Times article. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-fi-sony17-2008nov17,0,1628203.story )
I hope these answers to your questions help in your assignment.
Dick Rolfe, CEO