‘Whoopin’.’ Even the promo for Starz new Lebron James collaborative show Survivor’s Remorse alludes to it. The numbers have been crunched (most impressively, by the NPR and FiveThirtyEight ) and the only thing noted is that spanking and whoopin’ are culturally acceptable in some parts of the country, and the practice is legal in almost every state. Texas even has guidelines on what is acceptable bruising and is not (apparently, any welt that stays around for over an hour could be construed as child abuse, anything that dissipates under an hour, you’re good, cause hey, by the time that kid is in therapy, you won’t be paying for it.)
Even sex crimes, mostly crimes against women and children, have a prime time TV show – Law & Order SVU. This show is the current longest running non-animated, scripted show on television (Wikipedia). According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year. That’s one in 27 people across the US, or roughly two people per those seated on a New York City subway car. No wonder domestic violence is so mainstream as a subject for entertainment media.
That’s a huge number – 12,000,000.00. And yet, it is 8 million less than the audience of season opener of Thursday Night Football (20.77 million, according to updated Nielsen estimates) on CBS and NFL Network. Its domestic violence issues had only partially imploded in the league’s face at this time. By this Sunday, September 21, Ray Rice was old news, readers of the Washington Post and other outlets all knew Adrian Peterson had been whooped by his father in front of his middle school and then later by his coach, and three more NFL players had gotten in trouble for abuse and violence against spouses and girlfriends.
Chris Carter has said what needs to be said about domestic abuse and child abuse, video below. And audiences are still tuning in to watch football. This Sunday, NBC basically flatlined to 2013 numbers (19.15 mm to 18.689 mm in 2013) but the CBS football audience was up significantly, from 19.234 mm in 2013 to 27.347 mm in 2014 (numbers drawn from futoncritic). Maybe the audience all read how FiveThirtyEight broke down the NFL arrests to US males of the same age group and found the players had a much significantly lower arrests (but a high rate for Domestic Violence), across the board.
Or, maybe as a society we are too inured to domestic violence and really like football. Shame on us.
And: shame on the NFL; shame on Adrian Peterson’s parents who taught him that’s what a punishment is; shame on a society which makes light of whoopin’ as if it’s totally acceptable. But the list doesn’t end there.
Shame on Proctor and Gamble for withdrawing its participation in the NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness program. Google “NFL Player, Mother, and Breast Cancer” and the first page alone returns five players, a number equal to those causing the NFL domestic violence related trouble right now. The number of players with close family experiences of breast cancer is probably higher, but Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams lead the search returns, having dyed his hair and painted his nails pink, in honor and memory of his mother, Sandra Hill. Ms Hill lost her battle against Breast Cancer in May; her four sisters also all lost their battle with breast cancer. Pink hair – ballsy move for a man who makes his living being chased by 300-pound men looking to tackle him but a move which puts him on a Chris Carter level of goodguyness.
Proctor and Gamble, the company behind Crest Toothpaste, Tide and Oil of Olay, gave up the opportunity to reach a possible audience of over 80 million people (a rough total of the Thursday, Sunday and Monday audience weekly for the NFL) and walked away from publicly supporting the one out of eight women who will fight against breast cancer. Interesting considering women make 83 percent of the household purchases. Rather than expand its message from breast cancer awareness to a dual message to include domestic violence, as October is both Breast Cancer Awareness and Domestic Violence Awareness month, Proctor and Gamble has publicly removed themselves from association with the campaign.
CBSSports has reported: “The company notified the players that money earmarked to be donated to cancer charities as part of the campaign would still be contributed, but the entire campaign has been pulled.” There’s that at least.
Even Secretary of Defense Hagel is reassessing the relationship between the NFL and the Armed Forces, showing an amazingly short memory. Two words: Abu Ghraib. The NFL didn’t turn its back on the Armed Forces and has been a partner with both the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Foundation for years.
Shame on Proctor and Gamble, Radisson, Nike and other sponsors pulling their support from the NFL while continuing to advertise across mainstream media. Domestic abuse needs to be addressed as a society, and one place to start may be to reduce the amount it appears in casual entertainment – not, as Vice President Biden suggested last week, making it “something the NFL needs to address.” Sadly, Domestic Violence is way bigger than that.
When Chris Carter Talks, People Should Listen: