Religion in the Entertainment Media
In an interesting follow-up to Hugh's recent vox blogli on MSM and religion, the Family Television Council has published a study (here) on the depiction of religion during prime time entertainment TV. The results are mixed, but discouraging.
The report finds there is about one prime time reference to religion an hour, with 22.1 percent positive, 24.4 percent negative, and the balance neutral.
ABC had by far the most religious treatments per hour, with an average of 2.3. Fox followed with an average of one treatment per hour. Pax (the only outlet with no negative treatments) and UPN tied with an average of .9 instances, followed by CBS (.7), NBC (.6), and WB (.4).
Here's some examples of negative depiction. Remember, the people who put this stuff out go to work in the same buildings every day that the news department staffs do.
- On the December 17 episode of That ‘70s Show, Eric questions Donna, “So, you have to work at the radio station on Christmas Eve? God, it’s like it doesn’t even respect the sanctity of that holy night? We were going to get drunk and fool around behind the manger scene.” (Fox)
- Lauren asks her mother what Mass is on the February 3 Judging Amy. Amy replies, “It’s what Catholics call church so they can feel more guilty about it when they miss it.” Bruce replies, “Hey!” To which Amy says, “Hey, it’s my dinner party, I’ll cast disparaging remarks if I want to.” (CBS)
- On the February 10 Will and Grace, Karen, in an attempt to cheer Grace up, remarks, “Let’s go buy that historic church and turn it into a gay bar.” (NBC)
- On the January 15 episode of The Simpsons, Lisa tells Bart, “The Mount Builders worshipped turtles as well as badgers, snakes, and other animals.” Bart replies, “Thank God we’ve come to our senses and worship some carpenter that lived 2,000 years ago.” (Fox)
- April 27, on Scrubs, Carla tells Turk, “That was Father Paul. He said we can’t read our own vows. We have to say the same Catholic ones like everybody else,” to which Turk replies, “Oh baby, Carla, that sucks.” (NBC)
- On the August 5 episode of Last Comic Standing, Tammy does her routine: “…It’s a Muslim country and they pray to Mecca five times a day and being Catholic I don’t know anything about prayer. I pay some guy to do it for me. It’s a good time to be Catholic ‘cause we’re grading on a curve. As long as you’re not touching pee pees you got a get-out-of-hell-free card. That poor Pope. If he could stand up, he’d stab those priests with his hat, don’t you think? You know how you spot Catholics? Go to Star Wars movies. Every time they say ‘May the force be with you,’ they stand up and say, ‘And also with you.’” (NBC)