Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 15+
Biting '76 satire with a media literacy lesson.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film, made in 1976, is for adults and mature teens only. There is considerable profanity throughout: "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word," "whore," "goddamn," "piss," "dykes," and more. Characters discuss and engage in adultery. Actual sexual activity includes kissing and one scene in which characters undress (a brief flash of female breasts is included) and have sexual intercourse while the woman talks non-stop. Alcohol is consumed on numerous social occasions and two men get very drunk in the film's opening scene. Some smoking.
- Families can talk about the many disturbing propositions the movie puts forth: that greedy corporations control everything (broadcast news is only a part of it); that TV is a horrible, destructive force; and that the generation of viewers who grew up with TV are somehow damaged. Which of the film's predictions have come true?
- Does this movie stand the test of time or does it seem old-fashioned?
The good stuff
Positive messages: The film is an indictment of television and other media. The industry and those who control it are seen as greedy, power-hungry, and arrogant. “We’ll tell you everything you want to hear and none of it is true.” The integrity of television news is challenged in scene after scene, and the film traces the descent of the TV news departments into the bowels of the entertainment divisions. In a larger sense, corporate corruption and self-interest threaten to undermine the individual, our democracy, and all positive values. It’s a pessimistic message and, in this film, no one escapes its inevitable conclusion.
Positive role models: There are no heroes here: no one to admire; no one is able to counter the destructive forces at play. Male characters are either weak, off-balance, or corruptible. The female lead represents the very worst of what is usually seen as “masculine” behavior, made even more objectionable as she uses her “femininity” to get what she wants. The one featured African-American woman, seen first as a political maverick with good intentions, becomes shrill, racist, and greedy. Any character with even a little integrity (and no one has an abundance of it) is defeated.
What to watch for
Violence: A character is shot in cold blood. A leading character is forcibly removed from the set of a television news show. This same character threatens to blow his brains out on camera.
Sexy stuff: Characters talk about sex and adultery in numerous scenes, but actual sexual activity is limited to some passionate kissing and one sequence, played as satire, in which two leads undress (with a brief flash of female breasts) and engage in a semblance of foreplay and intercourse. Throughout the scene, the female's partner and the sex act itself are decidedly secondary as she engages in a non-stop monologue about her work in the television business.
Language: Pervasive swearing and obscenities throughout: all forms of "f--k," "s—t," "kiss your ass," "whorehouse," "c--ksmanship," "piss," "Goddamn," and more. There are references to "dykes," and an African-American character describes herself using the "N" word.
Consumerism: Sheraton, Canada Dry, Life cereal. ABC, CBS, and NBC are discussed and visually represented, but with definite disdain.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Set in 1976, many characters smoke. Alcoholic beverages are consumed in social settings: restaurants, bars, dinner table, etc. The opening scene shows two best friends who are drinking together and getting very drunk.