I’ve been reading The Difference God Makes by Francis Cardinal George. It’s a fantastic read. If you don’t have it pick it up, pronto. In it he references John Paul II’s Evangelium vitae extensively in the first two chapters (as that’s all I’ve been through). JPII talks about the “Culture of Death” that permeates much of society, including the US.
While I’ve heard of this reference before, Cardinal George really does a great job of drawing it out and it ended up helping me put words to observations I’ve had myself. Specifically, how much of what we see on television is about violence, murder, and death. So I did a little research and went through the primetime lineups of the Big 3 broadcast networks (ABC,CBS,NBC).
All told they program 45 hours of primetime Monday through Friday. I ended up looking at all of their primetime programming and looked at programs where murder was at the heart of the plotline for the show. For this research I actually looked at the plot synopsis for the show as listed in the directv.com channel guide. These results also include 20/20 and Dateline, as those two shows were planning on shows about murder.
All told 31% of all primetime broadcasts (14 hours) deal with murder. If you make death a broad term and add in medical dramas which often deal with patients dying, that number goes to 35% (16 hours).
If you single out the 9pm CST hour, where 15 hours of “dramatic” programming is found that number jumps to 40% (6 hours) For 9pm the percentage is 53% when factoring in medical dramas (8 hours).
Don’t forget these numbers don’t include shows that deal with other extremely violent situations such as rape (there were two other hours of Law and Order and an episode of Medium that dealt with rape). When you start to add those shows in over half of what you see on the big 3 in primetime deals with extreme criminal violence and murder. Those numbers are incredibly eye opening.