USA attitude on PG-itude : sexuality vs violence (in Debates)


Sickone October 8 2009 7:11 PM EDT


I never understood something about the USA stance on what's supposed to be "PG" and what not, namely the differentiation between sexuality and violence.

For instance...

We all know killing somebody is not only considered generally bad, but also imoral when not in self defence or otherwise justified legally. Still, talking about killing, hurting, maiming or otherwise damaging another human being is almost not taboo at all, and if no graphic depiction of violence and gore is present, it seems to be perfectly acceptable... and you get a constant stream of violent images shown on television, most games ever made have it as a central theme (heck, in CB, we constantly kill other opponents), and it's perfectly "PG" as long as you don't see giblets and blood (and even then, it's only considered mildly disturbing).

On the other hand, humans are beings that reproduce sexually. Each and every one of us so far (except that one alleged incident 2k+ years ago) was the result of a sexual act... or, most likely, several sexual acts. Engaging in sexual activity is generally legal, and with very few exceptions practiced by most adults. Still, depicting anything even remotely related to sexuality is a big no-no, going so far as even naming certain body parts (even body parts that practically every human being has) is considered offensive.


All in all, I find it more than just a bit worrying.
How can somebody say "I feel like beating up that guy to a bloody pulp for doing X then killing him if he does not stop" and not elicit much of a response from people agreeing that "doing X" is bad... yet on the other hand, saying "I love my wife, and we make love several times a week" (just using a different, shorter, single word for "making love") will get you the rage of a lot of people ?

So... how the heck does one go on rationalising such an absurd stance on things ?


OddBird Edit: Please stay on topic in the Debates forum, and do not bring off-topic squabbles or events into a Debate thread. Thank you.

QBOddBird October 8 2009 7:21 PM EDT

Has to do with a lot of factors, I think.

IMO, people are still afraid to tip-toe the line on sexuality because of gender issues; killing has no gender barrier, so it is more acceptable. That, and people are rather desensitized to death on-screen.

Has to do with tone, too...if I'm talking to a guy and he feels like beating someone to a bloody pulp and maybe killing him, he won't get much of a response from me at all. In fact, I'm probably leaving that creepy joker behind. If he's chatting and he talks about how much he loves his wife and making love to her...well, the conversation just got awkward, but it's a totally different response.

Television - that "it's real, but it's not really real" feeling - changes our reactions to many things.

NooneKnows October 8 2009 7:56 PM EDT

seemed like a legit question for debate to me. the US certainly has some questionable ideas as to propriety.

USA and CB-land are very different things; all would do well to remember that.

AdminTitan October 8 2009 8:13 PM EDT

I'm glad mainstream media represents this country as a whole. I guess if we put MSNBC's, CNN's and Fox's views together in one idea, we'd have the country's stance on foreign affairs too.

Brakke Bres [Ow man] October 8 2009 8:39 PM EDT

As far as I know it everything you can show in a prime time commercial is PG.

BHT October 8 2009 10:52 PM EDT


Sexuality has always been more "explicit" than killing, in almost all situations, at least as far as I can remember or know. I'm not sure why honestly, there are probably dozens of theories behind it. All I can say is that murder/killing/etc. is much more commonly refereed to in society. Some people may also feel awkward or uncomfortable when sexual topics are arisen (like OB said).
I'd love to here some peoples input on this, cause I can't really wrap my head around an answer right now.

Lochnivar October 8 2009 11:09 PM EDT

Hmmm... it makes me suspicious of the timing... especially since Shade is as American as Draadjesvlees and Appelflappen.....

All distractions aside, I have often wondered about the relatively blasé attitude towards violence being with a far more repressive stance on nudity...

I suppose societal norms are just being reflected here but I don't know that this is necessarily a good thing.

Video games magnify this.... I remember GTA getting in trouble for some implications of sexual acts while setting people ablaze and watching them die slowly is just fine. Kind of disturbing (the fun kind though!).


Sickone October 8 2009 11:11 PM EDT


Titan : I wouldn't know the difference, what I get about the USA is mostly your own media (and/or Hollywood movies).
There are very few (or better said, rather minuscule in volume) viewpoints I ever come across "USA morality" that aren't the media, and whenever the issue is raised, I usually get a similar type of reply (violence somewhat ok within certain flimsy boundaries but sexuality or anything related a big no-no as a topic of civil discourse).
If you think my experiences so far have been uncharacteristic of what really goes on in the USA, feel free to explain what the media "gets" wrong and how are things in reality. It might also help to mention your location in the USA (the out-of-country perceived stereotype being that LA/SF would be much less uptight about it).

Henk//Brakke Bres : I am not interested in discussing what is and what isn't PG, but if I would have been interested, I suppose that definition would have been helpful... if I lived in the USA. But I don't. And the issue I'm interested in is not what is PG, but why some very specific things that in my opinion shouldn't be PG are, yet some that should be aren't.
I guess I am a follower of the "German school of PG" (term invented by me right now, might actually have been used before by many others or never by anybody else, no idea), in which violence/blood/gore is a very bad thing to expose to the general public, while sexuality/erotica is just mildly offensive.
If you don't know what I mean by that, I should probably tell you that in Germany, most violent videogames have to be heavily edited least they face serious sales problems (stuff like reduced or no gore, non-red "blood", zombies or robots instead of human victims and many other such changes for a lot of games), but at the same time prostitution is legal and pornographic material is shown on *broadcast* television at late night, and there's very little "bleeping" in TV shows.
In other words, PG in the USA is completely different from PG in Germany... and I personally find the Germany approach much more palatable, logic-wise... with the USA approach being nearly impossible (for me) to understand. So I ask.

AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] October 8 2009 11:55 PM EDT

Sickone: So, let me get this straight, the point you are making is that you find the idea of a society that represses sexuality stupid, but the idea of a society that represses video games as smart? It seems to me that you are making a value judgement on the culture that you perceive as having done you wrong.

Just wanted to point that out, as it's kinda like the politician who gets in trouble, but rather then accept it and move on, tries to raise the roof and build up support for a movement that would decriminalize his own behavior, for his own ends. It comes off as a bit less then sincere and not exactly fertile grounds for genuine discussion on a topic.

That being said, I like our culture so far. I wouldn't mind a little less taboo on sex, and a more taboo on stupid gory horror flicks. As long as you can pass a simple cognitive baseline, most people can deal with violence just fine. We'll just ostracize those who are too stupid to deal with reality.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] October 8 2009 11:59 PM EDT

what i have trouble understanding is that many of us in the u.s. promote abstinence training over sex education even while our kids are getting pregnant and spreading diseases. it would seem to me that we are driven more by wishful thinking than logic or reality at times in regards to sexuality.

Adminedyit October 9 2009 5:21 AM EDT

remember the old tom and jerry cartoons? or the old looney tunes cartoons? they were violent, no doubt about it extremely violent, and set for kids of my generation who are now adults. growing up on this as a saturday morning staple it's easy to see how violence can be passed off as PG because heck even now i chuckle when the cat gets whacked in the face with a board.

Sickone October 9 2009 5:29 AM EDT


"Also the PG you are talking about, isn't American PG13 or PG16 or german PG, it's CB PG. "

No, the PG I am talking about *IS* USA PG-xx vs non-USA PG. Nothing more, nothing less.
Or should I probably say protestant/catholic PG vs non-religious-based PG ? But that's a completely different debate. Or at least I think it is, since Germany is also one third puritan and one third catholic, yet the views on PG are completely reversed, so it isn't (just) a "religious thing", for sure.



"Sickone: So, let me get this straight, the point you are making is that you find the idea of a society that represses sexuality stupid, but the idea of a society that represses video games as smart?"

I find the idea of repressing public discourse about something (sexuality) which is both legal and natural silly _AS LONG AS_ at the same time you allow free reign for public discourse about something else which is almost completely illegal pretty much anywhere (murder, wanton violence) and considered by the same people against nature (most of the time).


"That being said, I like our culture so far. I wouldn't mind a little less taboo on sex, and a more taboo on stupid gory horror flicks. "


As long as you repress both, I can understand the logic.
If you repress stuff you consider bad/amoral/illegal first, only afterwards (and to a lesser degree) the stuff you consider in somewhat bad taste, I can understand that too.
But what is the thought process behind censoring the legal and making a point in promoting the illegal ?
That's my main point.


"As long as you can pass a simple cognitive baseline, most people can deal with violence just fine. We'll just ostracize those who are too stupid to deal with reality. "

And most people CAN'T deal with human sexuality just fine ?!?

Sickone October 9 2009 6:06 AM EDT


...continued, reply to new post made while I wrote the above one...


"remember the old tom and jerry cartoons? or the old looney tunes cartoons? they were violent, no doubt about it extremely violent, and set for kids of my generation who are now adults. growing up on this as a saturday morning staple it's easy to see how violence can be passed off as PG because heck even now i chuckle when the cat gets whacked in the face with a board. "


I also remember some other things from those cartoons...
I remember male cartoon characters occasionally being (intentionally due to some plot twist or accidentally via some crash or freaky set of coincidences) put in female clothing, and the reactions those male-in-drag cartoon characters were getting from the other male characters (both before and after realizing what's going on).
I also remember things that would be considered racially offensive nowadays, towards Mexicans, african-americans and various asian stereotypes.
Oh, and I still remember the lush and borderline pin-up depictions of the female sex characters, which even back in that day would have been considered risky, and today would probably get the cartoon banned from certain timeslots.

Somehow though, the violence part of it all became acceptable, yet the other stuff didn't.
Why exactly that is, that's what I'd like to understand.
I mean, a rational reason, a good reason, not some arbitrary "X woke up today and decided Y was good but Z was bad from that day forward".

NooneKnows October 9 2009 10:49 AM EDT

if you're searching for rationality behind societal norms, you're on a fool's errand.

unless, of course, you want to bring religion into it. which is kinda funny, considering that's taboo as well.

Sickone October 9 2009 11:25 AM EDT

"if you're searching for rationality behind societal norms, you're on a fool's errand. "

There's always at least one rational explanation behind pretty much everything, but it's not always readily apparent, and not everybody agrees with the interpretation.
If anything, it's usually a matter of deciding which one (or which combination of them) fits the bill better.


"unless, of course, you want to bring religion into it. which is kinda funny, considering that's taboo as well. "

Funny you should mention that, because I already brought up religion into it to some degree, and comparing USA with Germany (the two big polar opposites with regards to the issue at hand, in my opinion) religion-wise, they're pretty much the same, at least at a superficial level (for more details, see posts above).
So that alone can't be it either, I suppose... it's not clear why, anyway ;)

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] October 9 2009 6:31 PM EDT

Good 'ol Europe for showing nakedness in adverts. ;)

Sickone October 10 2009 1:05 AM EDT

And for the sake of our sanity, I won't even mention what's considered "ok to air" on Japanese television :P

Lord Bob October 10 2009 1:18 AM EDT

You should totally mention what's considered "ok to air" on Japanese television.

Sickone October 10 2009 3:35 AM EDT

Just google/youtube/whatever the terms "japan tv naked" (anything from naked weather-presenting girls, naked interviews, naked gameshows, naked cooking shows, etc) and then replace "naked" by violence/brutality/shocking and so on ;)
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