Parents to FTC: Don’t Surrender Our Children to G.I. Joe

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Evan Silverstein (617.278.4174; esilverstein@jbcc.harvard.edu)

Parents to FTC: Don’t Surrender Our Children to G.I. Joe

Thousands sign CCFC petition to stop the marketing of violent PG-13 movies to young children

BOSTON - This week's premiere of G.I.
Joe: The Rise of Cobra
, rated
PG-13 for "strong sequences of action violence and mayhem throughout,"
marks the culmination of a summer-long barrage of marketing for violent
blockbusters targeting children as young as preschoolers.  Today, the
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) sent a petition to the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) signed by thousands of parents urging the FTC to stop the film industry from targeting young
children with their advertising for PG-13 films.  Since March, nearly
5,000 advertisements for five violent PG-13 films and their related merchandise
have aired on children's television stations, such as Nickelodeon and
Disney XD.  

Sixteen months ago, in response to CCFC's complaint, FTC staff
urged the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to devise a marketing
plan consistent with the PG-13 rating, which comes with the warning,
"Parents Strongly Cautioned:  Some Material May be Inappropriate for
Children Under 13." To date, the MPAA has not complied. 

"As evidenced by this summer's advertising assault, the
MPAA is continuing its policy of indifference to children's
wellbeing," said Susan Linn,
CCFC's Director and a psychologist at Judge Baker Children's
Center. "Since the violent movies targeting young children today would
have received the more restrictive R rating a decade ago, it's more
urgent than ever that we stop this onslaught."

The petition, signed by over 3,000 parents, states, "Marketing
PG-13 films to young children sends a confusing message to parents and
increases the likelihood that kids will be exposed to media content that even
the film industry believes may be inappropriate for them." 

Ads for the five violent films,  X-Men
Origins: Wolverine; Star Trek; Terminator Salvation; Transformers: Revenge of
the Fallen;
and G.I. Joe: The
Rise of Cobra
, were shown on children's channels between 6:00AM
and 8:00PM, when young children were likely to be watching. Three of the films,
Star Trek, Transformers, and this week's G.I. Joe, were also cross-promoted through
movie-themed Burger King Kid's Meals designed for children well under
thirteen years old. All of the films were heavily promoted through ads for
licensed toys, some of which are for children as young as two.

"Families are undermined when violent films are advertised during
children's television programs-especially through toy
promotions," said CCFC's Diane Levin, a professor at Wheelock College. "It makes it harder for
parents to deny requests to see the film when children are subjected to a
steady stream of ads telling them that that products linked to the film are
especially for them."

That
PG-13 films are marketed with toys for young children was also of special
concern to CCFC members Mark and Amanda Lindberg, who said "It is not
that romanticizing war is new, our literature and movies have done that for
years. The difference now is that we market movies with an intense level
of violence to young children with toys that allow young children to recreate
violent scenes of which they should never have been aware. In essence, we
have taken the movies from ‘war is hell' to ‘war is
play.'"

Mark is a
Sergeant in the US Army who served in Iraq.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Added Dr. Linn,
"When it comes to the film industry and marketing violent PG-13 movies to
young children, it's clear that self-regulation has failed."

To read CCFC's petition, please visit http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/t/6725/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=2021.

To see where and when this summer's PG-13 movies are being
advertised on children's television, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/pg1309.html.

To read CCFC's 2009 letter to the FTC, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/pdf/lettertoftcjune09.pdf.

###

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).

 

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