What is considered “graphic content”?

Remember that in the 1950s, popular TV couple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, slept in two different twin-sized beds on the show “I Love Lucy” even though they were a happily married couple? Remember how the thought of them being show in the same bed on television was considered graphic and indecent?

Today, in television, it is hard to make it through an episode of any television show, whether it be on over-the-air stations, cable, or premium cable, without seeing a couple sleep in the same bed or even perhaps get a bit more frisky. Regardless of whether one likes it or not, that is the standard that society has adapted today. Yet is that technically considered “graphic”?

Think of how in Fox’s new hit drama, “Designated Survivor,”they show a terrorist group murder a man. There is not much gore shown but compared to the 1950s, the idea of even implying murder was unheard of. Is that considered “graphic”?

Or lastly, think of how HBO’s Emmy-winning drama “Game of Thrones” uses explicit language, frequently, and powerfully to add weight to the context of the conversations. Eh, that might just be one of the smaller options to pick on from the show but still, is that language considered “graphic”?

Upon interviewing two professors at Hood College, it seems as if there will never be a set definition for what is “graphic” – Every person has something that they cannot stand to watch or hear about.

For former movie publicist, Katherine Orloff, she feels that content becomes overly graphic whenever the language, violence, or sexuality does not contribute to the plot.

“It is one of those ‘I don’t know how to define it but I know it when I see it’ things,” she said. “Whenever it feels unnecessary, that is where I draw the line.”

Meanwhile, Heather Mitchell-Buck, English professor and avid TV watcher, is not affected by the violence or language that is present in television show.

“I’m more affected by something medical, like when someone is getting sliced open,” Mitchell-Buck said. “It isn’t violence but it is graphic for what they show because it is more realistic.”

Both mentioned the Negan execution scene from “The Walking Dead” that took the world by storm on October 23, where he bashed in two characters’ heads. Orloff stated how that would be something that she definitely would not want to personally watch due to the gore but understood why it was included — To help the dramatic plot.

Meanwhile, Mitchell-Buck expressed how she loves that “The Walking Dead” has scenes like that because of how the show uses violence to make one think about the choices a person must make to survive. There are consequences for the actions that the characters take and it makes one think if the ends always justify the means, she said.

There might not ever be a solid definition of what is too graphic but for the time being, it looks as if people are most affected by violence and sexuality. It will be interesting to see how television continues to progress over the coming years and see if there is a move away from this content.



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