Last night, my husband and I were watching one of our favorite shows, American Pickers, when, during the commercial break, we suddenly got an eyeful of girls in bunny suits and lingerie, shots of Hugh Hefner with girls wrapped all around him, and a quick succession of nearly-naked ladies frolicking with male celebrities. Guess what great new show is gracing the History Channel? It’s America’s Book of Secrets: The Playboy Mansion, a special via History Channel’s sibling, H2 (where there is “More 2 History”).
I don’t know why I was so shocked, but there are certain channels that I have long hoped would remain safe-havens from explicit content and pro-porn promotion. I’ve had moments of discomfort with some of the content on seemingly “safe” channels before—innuendo and sexual jokes on HGTV, the Food Network, TLC and the History Channel (for instance, the title of their show Pawn Stars); but for the most part, these are networks that have a lot of good, clean, entertainment (and sometimes educational) content, appropriate for people of all ages.
History Channel’s latest endeavor continues to demonstrate how deeply the pornography industry had infiltrated our culture. The special is essentially a promotion of the so-called “Pleasure Palace”; it’s positioned as the hottest party in the U.S., and one that everyone would want to get into. Hefner and former Playmates are interviewed in such a way that lends legitimacy to the Playboy Mansion and it’s “bunnies”. Describing the Playboy magazine as the epitome of sophistication, the special is incredibly disturbing to any concerned parent. As History Channel presents it, the Playboy life is “the good life” – it’s all harmless fun. Throughout the piece, half-naked women are splashed in quick b-roll clips across the screen living it up in “Disney Land for Adults”; it would be virtually impossible for any man or teenage boy (or younger) not to struggle with lust as they watched this History Channel program.
I bring this up only to remind us that there are very few spaces left in our media for safe family entertainment (check out my earlier blog: “Porn It’s Everwhere”). The sexualization of our culture has infiltrated almost every corner of media, and pornography has become extremely normalized. This is why you must have constant, ongoing conversation with your children. So often, I talk to parents who are surprised that I recommend talking about pornography and sexual content with their children, but chances are, your kids have heard plenty (and probably even seen plenty) about pornography. Stay engaged with the content that your kids are watching online, on TV and through their gaming devices. Keep the TV out of your kids bedroom; instead, limit TV watching to the media or family room. And remember, that even family friendly, or seemingly benign shows, channels and Internet sites, can occasionally have mature content, and it’s your responsibility to engage with your kids when teachable moments arise. For more help, check out our guide on having the talk with your kids today.