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The Deteriorating Standards of Sex on TV

In 1896, a film called The Kiss outraged moral guardians by showing a couple stealing a quick kiss. "Absolutely disgusting," said one critic. "Such things call for police action." By the 1990s, prime-time network entertainment offered sexual remarks or behavior every four minutes. From their monitoring of network programs … Louis Harris and Associates estimated that the average viewer witnesses 14,000 sexual events annually. Nearly all involve unmarried people. An analysis of one week of network prime-time TV found that intercourse was mentioned or intimated by unmarried couples 90 times and by married couples once. Rarely are there any consequences. No one gets herpes or AIDS. No one gets pregnant. No one has to change diapers, get up in the middle of the night, or heroically struggle to socialize a fatherless child. In fact, more than two-thirds of the time (in another analysis of 220 scenes of unmarried sex) the activity is portrayed as desirable, [and] less than 10 percent of the time [sexual activity between unmarried adults is portrayed] as undesirable.

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