Parent Advocacy Group Calls on Netflix to Remove ‘Porn Scene’ From ‘A Man in Full’ Limited Drama

The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) May 14 called on Netflix to remove an alleged explicit scene from the streamer’s limited drama series “A Man in Full,” saying that it is too sexually graphic even for the episode’s “TV-Mature Audience (MA)” rating.
 
Specifically, in the sixth episode a man’s fully erect penis is shown, according to the PTC.
 
“Viewers of ‘A Man in Full’ have been shocked and dismayed at the inclusion of this graphic scene — which would be seen in a pornographic film, not on a Netflix series,” Melissa Henson, VP of the Parents Television and Media Council, said in a statement.
 
Henson admits that Netflix liberally applies a “TV-MA” rating to many of its TV programs, even for a few utterances of explicit language on a cooking program.
 
Yet, Henson contends that the alleged scene crosses the “TV-MA” line, with viewers not expecting to see something so graphic.
 
“Netflix should remove this sexually graphic scene now,” she said.
 
A Netflix representative was not immediately available for comment.
 
 

PTC Report Finds Major Increase of Explicit Adult Content in Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’

An analysis of all four seasons of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” has allegedly found that the ‘TV-14’-rated program has steadily introduced more explicit adult content with each new season, resulting in an increase of uncensored profanity and graphic violence, according to new data from The Parents Television and Media Council, which describes itself as a non-partisan advocacy group.

“Stranger Things” has become a hit with multi-generational appeal, with subscribers having viewed 286.7 million hours of season four, according to the PTC.

“For a program with such multi-generational appeal, we were shocked to see the rapid rise of explicit adult content that includes profanity and graphic violence without Netflix increasing the ‘TV-14’ age rating to ‘TV-MA’,” Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television and Media Council, said in a statement.

Winter contends that words like ‘f*ck’ and ‘sh*t’ — which air uncensored in “Stranger Things” — were once unthinkable for dialogue on programs rated as appropriate for 13- and 14-year-old children.

“But on Netflix they have become ubiquitous,” he said.

The Parents Television and Media Council analyzed the program content of each episode of all four seasons of “Stranger Things” utilizing content filtering data from the streaming video company VidAngel.

VidAngel, which identifies in specific detail every kind of explicit content that may be found in select entertainment content programs streamed across the internet, was successfully sued in 2019 for $62 million by Hollywood studios, which claimed its software had illegally violated their copyrights.

The major findings of the PTC’s report, Stranger and More Explicit Things, include:

  • A 217% increase in profanity from season one to season four.
  • A 739% increase in the frequency of the word “sh*t” from season one to season four.
  • The show did not introduce the “f-word” until part-way through its second season, but then used it six times in season two, and five times in season three, and nine times in season four. It is useful here to remember that under the TVOMB content ratings system, the use of a single “f-word” on basic cable and expanded-basic cable television programming has traditionally triggered a ‘TV-MA’ content rating. And on broadcast television and radio, a single use of the “f-word” has run afoul of indecency laws enforced by the Federal Communications Commission.
  • A 307% increase in violence from season one to season four. Of note, season four’s first episode contains depictions of dead children.
  • A 705% increase in graphic violence from season one to season four.

 

Winters said the PTC report suggests that Netflix has opened the “profanity floodgates” for children — a finding he finds particularly troubling because Netflix streams programming to cell phones, laptop computers, pads and other devices that are routinely outside the purview of a parent.  And setting parental controls on those media devices based on a content rating will fail to do what parents expect, according to Winter.

“Netflix’s apparent desire to attract a broad audience would explain why the company — which has never shied away from the ‘TV-MA’ rating — rated ‘Stranger Things’ ‘TV-14,'” Winter said. “However, either the content is being rated inaccurately, or there has been considerable ‘ratings creep’ with the criteria used to determine an age-based rating. Neither option allows parents to do their job effectively.”

He said parents deserve a ratings system that is transparent and consistent across platforms.

“Our report suggests there to be a vastly different standard between streaming content and broadcast content — even if that content is similarly-rated,” Winter added. “If a ‘TV-14’ doesn’t mean the same thing on Netflix as it does on CBS, it is of little to no value to parents. Netflix must re-evaluate its content ratings for ‘Stranger Things’ immediately.”

A Netflix representative was not immediately available for comment.

Parent Group Criticizes Hulu Content Controls; Hails Netflix, Disney+

The Parents Television and Media Council April 20 released a new study evaluating the most popular streaming services, finding that ad-supported services like Paramount+, Peacock and Hulu are the most cost-effective, but that Hulu rates the worst with parental controls, while Netflix has the best oversight.

The PTC looked at both the up-front and hidden costs a family would pay by “cutting the cord” and switching to a streaming-only platform consisting of the most popular streaming services currently on the market. For the report’s non-economic analysis, the PTC reviewed the parental controls available on those most popular services.

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Ranked on a relative scale, Netflix was found to have the best parental controls of the major streaming services; Hulu, the worst. The parental controls available on Peacock, Paramount+ and HBO Max are similar enough to be virtually undistinguishable. Disney scores slightly higher because of the “kid-proof exit” feature, which requires users to answer a security question to switch profiles. Apple TV+ scored well because it  provides parents with data about screen usage.

Although most streaming services are still not using content descriptors to indicate elevated levels of sexual content, adult dialogue, foul language or violence, the PTC found most have  adopted some variation of content controls based on age-rating.

Most often these involve creating one or more separate user profiles, choosing an age or rating threshold (most often using a combination of TV Parental Guidelines and Motion Picture Association ratings), and PIN-restricted access to content above that age or rating threshold.

“With streaming increasing in popularity, due in part to increased screen time because of COVID lockdowns, families need to know which services will be most cost-effective,” Tim Winter, president of PTC, said in a statement. “But they also need to know which services will best protect children from harmful content.”

The study found Paramount+, Peacock, and Hulu to be the most cost-effective streamers, but less so when it comes to parental controls or enough distinction between age-appropriate programming. In fact, PTC found Hulu to be the worst of the various platforms for parental controls, even failing to distinguish between content that would be suitable for a 7-year-old versus a 13-year-old.

“Given that Hulu is owned by Walt Disney, we were surprised and disappointed that it didn’t have better parental controls,” Winter said.

For parents who are working to protect their children from age-inappropriate content, the challenges in the over-the-top video era have never been greater, according to Melissa Henson, PTC program director.

“Launching Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or any one of dozens of streaming apps gives a child instantaneous access to a virtually unlimited catalog of programming,” Henson said.

She said the PTC is encouraged that Netflix has made significant improvements to its parental controls, including allowing parents to block specific programs, since its last report on streaming TV. But Henson added that Netflix should continue to make more improvements, including giving users the ability to block entire categories of content.

“Disney+ remains the best alternative for families with young children looking to exclusively stream family-friendly content,” Henson said.

The PTC is calling on all streaming providers to develop and adopt industry best practices for robust parental controls; calling on the Congress to pass a legislative update to the Family Movie Act of 2005, so families can filter out explicit and age-inappropriate content; and calling on the FCC to revisit and renew the promises Congress made to families when it passed the Child Safe Viewing Act of 2008.

Meanwhile, from a cost perspective, the PTC found ad-supported streaming services like Paramount+, Peacock and Hulu to be the most cost-effective. Disney+ provides the best economic value for families with young children looking primarily or exclusively to stream family-friendly content.

Amazon Prime Video has many hidden costs, including additional “channels” and options to rent or buy that make its program inventory appear “deceptively” large, as many titles appear in a search that cannot be viewed without the addition of a channel.