Prime Time Values

This article originally appeared in the February-March issue of Eternal Perspectives, EPM's quarterly newsletter.

It was a story so great, so important, so attractive and instructive for American families, that all three networks felt they had to turn it into a feature television movie. What was this story? Bravery and heroism in battle? A family’s triumph over the tragedies of life? A story of faith and hope and self-sacrifice for the good of others? None of the above. It was “The Amy Fisher Story.” 1993 began in American households with the Amy fisher film festival. Three renditions of a bizarre and sickening tale.

What did “The Amy Fisher Story” have to offer? Lust and violence. Period. that’s it. A self-indulged and deranged teenage girl lusting after a married man, who takes her to bed and so consumes her thoughts that she tries to murder his wife. A story that had everything the American media wants. Trash and more trash. Bringing money and more money. If anyone doubted what Hollywood is about, I hope the Networks’ frenzy over Amy Fisher forever answered the question.

In last year’s season opener, teenager Doogie Howser lost his virginity—it was the hook to get people to watch. In this year’s season opener of ABC’s “Doogie Howser,” the teenager swims naked with a beautiful older woman who turns out to be his mom’s boss. When Mom and Dad catch the two in the pool, Doogie explains that Scandinavians do it all the time. Being an enlightened parent of the 90’s, Mom comes to understand it’s none of their business what her teenager—who lives under her roof—chooses to do with his sex life.

Fox Network’s “Key West” features the town’s gay mayor as the hero who is hounded by right-wing fanatics. Another character in the same program is described as “a no-nonsense prostitute.” She is seen making love to a paraplegic’s husband as the handicapped woman watches. The executive producer, David Beaird, said, “We will very definitely make Dan Quayle hate us.” An interesting life goal.

In Fox’s “Melrose Place,” on the October 28 episode, Alison is in bed with her new lover, a married man. Matt embraces his homosexual lover in public, and is followed by men who call him a fag and queer, and beat him up. He loses his job for being a homosexual, and is encouraged to sue. His lawyer excitedly says, “This case is a media brushfire. I mean, especially now when you’ve got . . Oregon and Colorado trying to pass repressive measures curtailing the rights of gay men and women!”

The November 10 “Roseanne,” on ABC, which formerly had a homosexual character in the series, featured another long-time character coming out of the closet as a lesbian, with a new female lover. In the November 17 episode the woman’s ex-husband comes back to try to get the marriage back together, and Roseanne takes great delight—and this is good for a lot of laughs—in telling him that his wife is gay and in love with someone else. The ex-husband proposes a threesome, or that his wife at least allow him to watch her have sex with her new friend. Pretty funny, huh?

NBC’s November 13 family drama “I’ll Fly Away” centered on three teenagers’ trip to a whorehouse. The madame invites them to ogle the half naked women and “take your pick.”

CBS family-time sitcom “Hearts Afire,” created by Linda Bloodworth Thomason (close friend of the Clintons), continuously focuses on immoral sex. The October 26 episode reveals that the Senator and his wife hate each other, but they don’t separate because “He’s afraid it would ruin his chances for re-election. You know, he’s one of the main quarterbacks for this family values thing.”

Later in Bloodworth’s script the Senator’s staff receives complaints about the animal sounds coming from the Senator’s office when he has sex there with his mistress. When John is nervous about having his ex-wife and her lesbian lover over for dinner, he is chided by his fellow staff member, “Ruth and Deanndra are a couple just like any other couple. I can’t believe how narrow minded you are.”

NBC’s October 17 episode of “Nurses” featured nurse Julie coming to work grinning and eager to tell her co-workers she had sex with the parking lot attendant. Others think this was just a one night stand, but the man comes back and asks her, “How about we make this a two-night stand?” “Heck,” Julie replies, “let’s try for a whole week!” The laughter and applause reinforce the validity of casual and promiscuous sex.

Since condoms—which used to be considered the most ineffective means of protection—are now the politically correct cure-all, it’s no surprise that “with it” programs are now into condoms.

Diane English, the creator of “Murphy Brown,” has a new sitcom called “Love and War.” In an early episode, the lead male character asks his female counterpart, “Your condom or mine?” The dialogue continues:

“So, have you had a lot of partners?”

“Well, it depends on how you define ‘a lot.’ Average, I would say. More than the Pope. Less than Jimmy Swaggert.”

“Obviously, we need protection. So, do you have any condoms?”

“I do.”

“Good. Because if you didn’t, I have some in my purse.”

This couple was on their first date. Nothing is said about the only reliable way to avoid disease—and the one way to avoid psychological effects of extramarital sex. Abstinence. No mention of the “A” word.

NBC’s “Steinfeld” repeatedly centers on sex. The October 28 episode features a character’s father, who is still married, discovered to be carrying on a homosexual relationship for years. The November 11 plot focuses on the desire of Jerry’s friends to see him get a virgin to go to bed with him. The closing monologue is about the “old-fashioned” concept of virginity. The November 30 program features three men and a woman who bet who can go the longest without masturbating. The entire program was about masturbation.

ABC’s “Civil Wars” has lengthy nude scenes. On October 14 Sydny and her lover are on a sofa in her office. He is on top of her, when her law partner enters and talks with the two lovers as if this were normal—and, on television, it is. On the same show Charlie, the other main character, talks to a woman over drinks, but the couple can’t finish without heading to a hotel to have mid-day sex, making their clients wait.

The children-oriented “Simpson’s” November 12 program has Homer watching a television sex show called “Hunks” on which the host asks a contestant, “OK, Ron, which one of our girls said the following about you—‘He looked so sexy, I hoped we would have sex’”? Ron responds, “Well, that’s a tough one, ‘cause I did the deed with Ooda, Candy and Shasta.” All three women giggle. In another scene, Homer’s wife Marge delivers a “Welcome Wagon” basket to a new neighbor. The basket’s contents include a XXX rated video for the man of the house. Hilarious? To Hollywood’s media elite, the answer is obviously yes.

Keep in mind that I am citing only a few examples, only from the fall season (I have some unbelievable examples from last year), and only from prime time. (The daytime soap operas are even worse.) I did not watch any of these programs myself, nor would I recommend anyone doing so—I relied on verbatim quotes from the transcripts of the program, as relayed in several sources, especially the January issue of the AFA Journal.

I left out references to many episodes, including Herman’s Head (produced by Disney’s Touchstone Company) or Fox’s Flying Blind, that I don’t feel are appropriate even to describe. So, if I’ve offended you, just realize much of what I haven’t said is worse than what I have.

I realize there is risk in saying even as much as I have, but the risk is worth it if that’s what it takes to alert us to the evil—yes, evil is the appropriate word—many Christian families are exposing their minds to. It is tragic to think of our young people whose natural sexual development is being polluted by this kind of material.

MTV, which is geared to teenagers and young adults, is the most violent and sexually explicit network on television. Madonna’s best selling book of pornography, called Sex, is extremely popular among teenagers. It depicts group sex, homosexual sex, sex with an animal, and sado-masochistic sex, which links the sexual urge to an urge for violence. (See Dr. Dobson’s comments on the effects of linking sex and violence among children.)

I am continually amazed at the number of Christian homes where children, teenagers and even pre-teens are allowed to watch R-rated movies, both in theatres and in their homes. Many PG-13 movies are full of immorality, and many R movies show explicit sex scenes and repeatedly use the “F” word. Some parents think that as long as kids avoid bad videos, network television is OK. How can any Christian parent justify allowing their children to be exposed to this kind of poison for the mind? How can we pay money to have these programs imported into our homes? We should be willing to pay to keep them out of our homes!

I have counseled with enough people who suffer years later from the immoral input of immoral magazines and movies, to know that the damage we are doing to our children (and ourselves) by allowing them access to these things may be irreparable. What we allow our children to watch on the television is one of the worst forms of child abuse in this nation.

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries