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Bedtime for the Young Ones

May 22, 2011

After being in London for over a week, I feel more educated regarding the culture we are quickly assimilating ourselves into. Along with the wisdom we are slowly but surely gaining, usually from personal mistakes and insights, we’ve all become curious about characteristic of the Brit lifestyle (“What are in the backpacks people wear while running?” or “Is ‘cheers’ a salutation or a brush off?”). Personally, I’ve grown quite curious about cable television and any regulations that might surround it. An incident that really sparked my interest was an unusual commercial which began with an adult man lying on a couch in his underwear, and facing a webcam on top of a television. The commercial ended with a full nude shot of his backside, as he faced doctors on the TV screen.

I was so surprised. My flat mates and I gawked in amazement. I could not believe that nudity would be allowed on cable television. It was 7:15PM. The following day, a woman I intern for questioned out loud, “What is Zoloft?” Without thinking I blurted, “Oh, it’s for depression.” And when I looked up and saw the inquiring looks, I added, “Oh, I just remember from all of the commercials with the stick figures.”

The two women both looked at each other in the same kind of awe we all did the night before. They explained that British cable would never air commercials, or “adverts,” about anti-depression medication. This seemed pretty ironic to me, since the previous night I saw a man’s bottom on Channel 4. This led to a discussion about the differences with cable and television in the United Kingdom versus America.

Though television shows in the U.S. are becoming more open, liberal and much less modest in content, the v-chip and Children’s Television Act are still alive. The CTA requires “educational” programming on cable channels until 10PM and the v-chip was introduced in 1996, creating “Parental Guidelines” and ratings for parents to monitor what their children watch.  Well, through my brief lesson on UK television I learned that after 9PM, basic channels can show, say and do whatever they want. It’s as simple as that, other than the fee that a person has to pay to have a television in their home.

In conclusion, along with the many factors that separate the United States and the United Kingdom, television is an unexpected difference. However, I’m not sure if it’s a case of Britain being behind the times and vulgar or just more progressive. Maybe children really do go to bed at 9PM?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Terri permalink
    June 2, 2011 11:35 am

    Great observations! I thought driving on the opposite side of the road from the US would be the biggest difference between our two countries! Fascinating, I can’t wait to return to London!

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