In a world mirrored so closely by the drama and comedy of TV, it's not surprising that sex plays a leading role on the tube. But the part's grown bigger-and more explicit-over the past 13 years.
Every four minutes today, TV characters talk about sex or display sexual behavior-compared to every five minutes in 1979. And while sex practices in real life have proved to have dramatic consequences over that time, TV has yet to devote prime time to safe-sex practices.
TV has no problem promoting casual sex, but does have a problem promoting responsibility," especially in a time when AIDS and teen pregnancy is soaring, reports Barry S. Sapolsky, Ph.D., In the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media (Vol. 35, No. 4).
Documenting TV's promiscuity, the professor at Florida State University compared the sexual content of one week's prime-time network TV In 1989 with the same in 1979. Here's what he found:
o SEX TALK: TV gave viewers l6 instances of sexual imagery or language in 1989, versus 13 In 1979-explicit references to sexual behavior and sexual organs.
o THE WILD THANG: Nowhere to be seen in 1979, four explicit sex acts steamed the set in 1989.
o YOU FIRST Equality in the bed. room is on the wane. In 1989, male characters initiated two thirds of the sexual behavior and conversation, and three-fourths of the noncriminal sex acts. In 1979, men and women shared the responsibility tit-for-tat.