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July 13th, 2005 Adrian Chen | Q & A
 

STEPHANIE SNOW

Beaverton mom wants to clean up TV.

     
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IMAGE: TIM GUNTHER
Stephanie Snow is the Parents Television Council's newest weapon in the national council's fight against violence, profanity and T&A on TV. In May, Snow founded the Portland chapter of the council, which claims nearly 1 million mothers and fathers ready to fire off angry letters and Federal Communications Commission complaints when they spot "indecent'' television.

The group's website and email "action alerts" have been mobilized recently in an effort to ban a sexy Carl's Jr. TV ad featuring Paris Hilton. Snow talked with WW about watching primetime, what a TV show about her life would reveal and her ideal TV future.

WW: Did you get involved in the Parents Television Council after some sort of epiphany about TV?

Stephanie Snow: I don't think I ever had an epiphany, but I do remember watching ER one night. We turned it on, and this couple and their orgasm experience was going on for two minutes. We were totally appalled. I've always been kind of annoyed with television and how much it's gone downhill.

Why choose offensive television as a crusade?

Everyone picks their own battle of what they feel they can do. I don't necessarily feel like I can do anything about starving people around the world. This is something I feel I can do to change life around me, to make things better for my family, my children and my community.

What's the worst thing you've ever seen on TV?

Probably the worst things have been in the middle of the night when I'm up with the baby. But prime time? For me, it's two things. The nudity: It seems that now, everything is exposed except for the few little things that they explicitly cannot show, like nipples-they're pushing the envelope absolutely to the edge. And the violence:

The murders that are shown are absolutely appalling to me.

You must watch a lot of TV.

I try not to. It is on a lot, though. During the day, we watch OPB because we have young children. My husband enjoys some of the dramas in the evening, but I try not to watch a lot.

So how do you know what indecency is out there?

I watch enough to know. You see previews for other shows and sometimes you see enough just on a preview to know. Plus, I keep in touch with organizations like the PTC.

Can't parents just turn off the TV?

That is one option. However, I think broadcasters should be responsible for what they're showing as well. If we don't have good things to choose from, then what's the option there? To not have a TV, I suppose.

If people want shows with violence and sex, why shouldn't networks give them what they want?

We're not saying that people shouldn't be able to watch what they want. What we're trying to do is to make prime time the family hour, to make those times more suitable for families with children in the room. The FCC-defined safe haven is from 6 am to 10 at night. That should be the family time when we know we can turn the TV on and have things that are OK for kids to be watching.

What advice about kids and TV would you give to parents?

Be there while they're watching. Tune into organizations like PTC. They've got a great website where they have every show rated with a red, green or yellow light [depending on their suitability for children].

Using the three PTC criteria of violence, sex and foul language, how would you rate your own life?

Probably yellow in all of them. I try to structure my life so I avoid a lot of that stuff. I don't watch a lot of the news because I don't want to see or hear about a lot of violence. I don't watch a lot of TV that has the language or the sex.

The description for a red light on the PTC website says, "Show may include gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content or obscene language." Isn't that a pretty good description of life?

My normal life doesn't include all of that. I don't think that's a fair assessment. I definitely think all of that exists in the real world, but I don't think you're going to see it in your daily life. Do we have to see everything that's going on in the real world?

Should we ignore it?

We're not ignoring the issue. But just because it exists doesn't mean that we should watch it more in our homes. And I don't believe that what we see on TV is a true mirror of reality. Just because people are having orgies or whatever doesn't mean I want to see it.


The Parents Television Council website is www.parentstv.org .

Snow is a stay-at-home mom with three children ages 1 1/2 to 7. Her favorite TV show is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

 
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