Teaching TV Violence: Where Do You Draw -- Or Fire -- The Line?

Some U.S. Army generals are having a problem with all-too-graphic scenes on "24" -- those fictional torture scenes that give new recruits the wrong ideas.

Producers on the popular Fox show say the show is there to "entertain."

No matter. Now those producers say they are bored with the whole torture thing anyway -- and they'll look to make cutbacks. Perhaps they'll just tickle torturees with a feather instead -- and make them laugh to death.

At the same time, the Federal Communications Commission will tell Congress that its regulatory domain might well extend beyond profanity and indecency issues into areas of violence as well. 

The FCC also wants to extend beyond its traditional broadcast-only boundaries of video distribution -- it now wants to cover cable- and satellite-delivered programming. The FCC is like any other public or private organization; it needs new products -- regulatory services -- to offer. The regulating media business is a growing business. Its customers, the American TV public, appear ready to buy.



TV violence has been the subject of discussions for some time, fueled by some notable parent organizations that, in turn, are also mulling new services and things to protest. The Parents' Television Council says it has counted 67 torture scenes during the first five seasons of "24" -- the most of any TV show.

It boggles the mind how regulators will come up with a framework for all this, including definitions of violence on TV. Do news stories from Iraq count? What about full-on contact sports? Boxing and ultimate fighting are also pretty violent. In addition to fictional entertainment shows, there is plenty of real hurtin' stuff out there. 

You call this a slippery slope? I call it a double diamond icy run in ParkCity.

Generals warn that U.S. Army cadets might believe those "24" scenes are close enough to being real, so the cadets have a hard time differentiating between the inhumane methods on "24" and more subtle interrogation methods.

Producers reply that young recruits better just listen to their superiors, and lighten up on those quiet Monday evenings with Jack Bauer. West Point generals say that's the point: The blare of the TV sets on campus is too loud for their points to be heard.

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