Carstens: ‘American Horror Story’ is too graphic for cable


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Columnist Carstens believes that American Horror Story is too graphic of a television show for cable television.

Courtney Carstens

Graphic, unfiltered scenes of rape, murder, incest, bestiality, mutilation and other torturous acts are all stitched together with an eerie theme song to create the gory hit television show “American Horror Story.” While many of the other programs that have shown these kinds of acts would have been taken off the air already, “American Horror Story” has continued to thrive off of these vile acts being committed to a new cast of characters every season.

While I can see an appeal of wonderfully crafted story lines with twists in the most of unexpected of places, “American Horror Story” should not have such an easy time gaining access to public airtime, and the show itself should be more aggressively regulated so youth cannot accidentally get a hold of the gruesome content.

The creator of the show, Ryan Murphy, who was also responsible for Glee, told the world that the newest season, “American Horror Story: Hotel,” is far worse than the previous seasons. After binge-watching the series, I agree. But what he has created is taking it way too far. 

Looking at the previous seasons leading up to “Hotel,” you can see a clear escalation in the level of gore used.

The first season, “Murder House,” dealt with murder, a family that is falling apart and demons — lots and lots of demons. Nothing was too revealing, and, while there were moments of horror like we expect in a show like this, it was nothing that left you with chills of terror or horror-induced vomit afterward.

The second season, “Asylum,” dealt with murder, mental illness and brutal torture to try and rid a woman of her homosexuality.

The third season, “Coven,” was more sexually grotesque and weird than anything. The blood, the zombie-like creatures and other things kept it freaky but not overly horrifying.

The fourth season, “Freak Show,” was a literal joke. While heinous things were done, the characters like the Siamese Sisters and the Bearded Lady made the show seem almost sad because you felt for the characters. The only thing that kept me on the edge of my seat was the demonic clown and his mask that seemed to blend in way too well with his face.

The current season, “Hotel,” is awful. The season is full of rape, and murder and gory scenes that are too graphic. 

Each season gets progressively worse. One question that keeps lingering in the back of my head as I watch this show is how much worse can it get before “American Horror Story” loses its viewers?

Andrew Pritchard, assistant professor of journalism and communication who focuses on media law, said “American Horror Story” would have to get a lot worse with its sexual acts and goriness to lose viewers or get kicked off the air.

As Americans, we tend to think if people don’t like a show they just shouldn’t watch it. While this is true, I think it’s important that as mentors and adults we teach our youth how to make decisions on how and what to consume from the media.

One way to do this is by teaching them by example. Also, if we learn how to properly use the controls that have been required by the Federal Communication Commission to be placed in our cable systems. One such example is limiting children’s access to shows or channels with pass codes. 

Children have fragile minds, and subjecting them to horror shows or even allowing them to accidentally see it can cause damage. According to the American Academy of Children and Adolescents Psychiatry, which was updated in December 2014, the average child in the United States watches about four hours of television a day. It can be a big influence teaching children what to value and how to behave. 

Studies have shown that when children and teenagers are subjected to regular violence on television they become numb to the horror of violence; worse of all they may see violence as a way to solve problems. These problems may not become immediately prevalent, but the symptoms cause a problem for society. “American Horror Story” is a show that could do such things.

“American Horror Story” is a violent TV show that leaves me, an adult, scared out of my mind when I watch it, and I cannot imagine young children getting their hands on this show or a show like this. There needs to be monitoring with shows like “American Horror Story”. The show is meant to be horrifying for the point of entertainment, but the horror should be hidden from children for the good of our society.