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Jay Evensen: Angus Jones was right, turn off your TV

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 2:37 a.m. MDT

In this March 12, 2012 file photo, actor Angus T. Jones arrives at the Paleyfest panel discussion of the television series In this March 12, 2012 file photo, actor Angus T. Jones arrives at the Paleyfest panel discussion of the television series "Two and a Half Men" in Beverly Hills, Calif. Jones, the teenage actor who plays the half in the hit CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men" says it's "filth" and through a video posted by a Christian church has urged viewers not to watch it. (Dan Steinberg, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

It didn't take long for some in Hollywood to come up with their own analysis of Angus T. Jones' viral video, in which he tells people to quit watching Two and a Half Men, the television sitcom in which he plays a role and which he called "filth."

He might be brainwashed.

No one said as much out loud, but Eonline.com quoted sources saying Jones' mother and people who work with him on the CBS show were wondering whether the new church Jones has chosen to attend is messing with his mind. They worry the church is just after the young actor's money (Jones is 19).

Well, of course. Why else would he attack the content of such a virtuous show? Why would he be so judgmental?

All of this should be placed in the context of Jones' own seemingly wobbly behavior on the subject. After the video became an issue, he made an apology of sorts, saying he had no intention of hurting anyone he works with and offering thanks for the opportunity to be on the show.

Angus T. Jones arrives at the People's Choice Awards on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 in Los Angeles.  (Matt Sayles, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Angus T. Jones arrives at the People's Choice Awards on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012 in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

He did not, however, retract the f-word — filth — that seemed to have so many people atwitter (quite literally, if you check Tweets under the hashtag #angusjones).

But no matter. If you have a religious conversion and attack the content of Hollywood shows, especially when that goes against your own financial interests, you must be brainwashed.

Do you get the rich irony here? Let me spell it out for you.

The Parents Television Council, also frequently derided by Hollywood apologists, describes the content of Two and a Half Men as containing frequent foul language and "a constant barrage of sexual scenes and jokes." It goes into considerable detail as to what this means specifically, which I won't do here — the Parents Television Council actually documents and enumerates such things.

The bottom line from the council is that "The content on Two and a Half Men is not appropriate for children of any age." Why limit that to just children?

Five years ago, the American Psychological Association issued a report on what it called the "sexualization of girls." It was a compilation of scholarly research, which consistently supported the conclusion that society's ever-increasing sexualization of girls and women is leading to unhealthy results, and not just for girls.

"More general societal effects may include an increase in sexism; fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence; and an increased demand for child pornography," the report said.

This sexualization, evident in popular programs, movies and advertisements, has even been shown to diminish a young woman's ability to perform mathematical equations or think logically.

Apparently, when popular TV characters make crude jokes or use women only for gratification, these cultural media messages make young women think they are of less value, while also diminishing the way young boys view them.

The report defined "sexualization" as a message that "a person's value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or sexual behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics…"

The Parents Television Council used that definition to examine prime-time television shows. It found young girls being sexualized as much as adult women. "About 93 percent of sexual incidents among underage characters fit the APA's category of 'unhealthy' sexuality," it said.

The consistent presentation of uncommitted sex as entertainment and young women, in particular, as little more than objects is, it seems, affecting how people think about themselves and the world around them.

Sounds like brainwashing to me.

Two and a Half Men may direct most of its jokes at male behavior, but that hardly matters. It is one more part of a prime time cultural barrage that coarsens behavior and cheapens what ought to be valued and protected.

I don't know the level of Jones' commitment to what he said on YouTube, but he was spot on.

"If you watch Two and a Half Men," he said, "please stop watching Two and a Half Men … Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth."

That may be the sanest thing I've heard from a prime time actor in a long time.

Jay Evensen is associate editor of the Deseret News editorial page. Email him at even@desnews.com. For more content, visit his website, www.jayevensen.com.

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