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Parents Complain about Risque Sunset Strip Billboards



West Hollywood Patch has started a new feature called “Parents Talk” and to kick things off, they’ve posed the question, “Are Weho Billboards Too Risqué for Children?” Listed as troubling examples are ads for Dexter showing a bloody baby, and a nude Absolute Hunk.

The short post encourages people to have a conversation about the issue, and concludes by saying, “Given that West Hollywood’s demographic has changed dramatically in recent years and now includes increasing numbers of families with young children, perhaps it is time to open up a debate on whether these images should be so readily visible to all.”

But is that shift in demographics really true? L.A. Weekly points out census data showing a massive drop in the number of youth. For the year 2000 shows there were 2,034 people 17 years old or younger. In 2010, the census data listed only 1,578 people 17 years old or younger. That’s a loss of 456 young people under the age of 18, or a huge drop of 22 percent.

Nevertheless, some people seem to be putting forward the idea that West Hollywood needs to become more family friendly. But really, we’re talking about the Sunset Strip, world famous for being an adult playground, not Parkway Calabasas. We’re talking about Santa Monica Blvd, which has hosted gay pride parades with dancing go go boys for decades. And a city where a hefty man rides around on a bicycle with a skirt hiked up to show a tiny strap of a g-string (for those brave enough to look for it).

The “family friendly” camp keeps creeping into other areas of life in this little city. Recently, a long running art fair sponsored by Tom of Finland was initially not endorsed by the West Hollywood Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission. The city has also been putting forward anti-smoking measures that in part have the stated aim of protecting children. Most recently, an ordinance was enacted that prohibits sales of cigarettes near schools.

It doesn’t seem that West Hollywood is going to experience a complete Disneyfication anytime soon. They city council reacted quickly to the outrage over the Tom of Finland exhibit being stopped and went ahead and approved it with strong endorsements. And it’s not hard to conclude that the anti-smoking laws are more about the public health agenda of certain city council members than it really is about children.

But still, it seems we certainly do have people pushing a “family friendly” agenda for the city. If they don’t like it, what are they doing here? The Castro district in San Francisco has been facing similar calls to done it down for children in the area. The Daily Show’s Ed Helms visited and talked to a man named Jeremy Paul who was frustrated by the overt sexuality.

“By moving his family to the gayest section of the gayest city on earth, Jeremy’s children were somehow exposed to gayness,” said Daily Show correspondent Ed Helms.

The segment also compares the issue to someone moving in next to an airport then complaining about the noise.

West Hollywood Patch readers are by and large jumping in to the conversation very much opposed to the idea that something needs to be done about Sunset Strip billboards.

One reader commented: “What’s next? Should we ban gay bars, or male go-go dancers in WeHo because their mere existence is inappropriate to children? If you want to raise your child in a more ‘children friendly’ environment with top schools, you may want to consider places like Porter Ranch, Calabasas, and Irvine.”

Woody McBreairty said: “I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve said they’ve seen this coming. It’s like the attack of the killer tomatoes. They objected to nearly everything of an adult nature in West Hollywood, never mind that West Hollywood is culturally & historically an adult enclave. ”

Maddie said: “My husband and I both come down Sunset going to and from work and in that little section. It reminds both of us of New York. We have young nieces and nephews who see those billboards and so what? They’re not bothered by it, nor are their parents.”

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  1. Chris Bray

    April 29, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    This is an invented controversy. My wife and I are raising a daughter in West Hollywood — she was born a few blocks away at Cedars-Sinai in 2008, and we’ve stayed right here on the same street that we lived on before she arrived. We don’t expect the place to become Disneyfied, to become less adult, to hide its gay identity, to somehow switch off the Sunset Strip or hide the existence of sex. About all we need is a decent park or two, and maybe a little less late night pissing and puking on our residential street. Parents who choose to live here know where they live, and are here because we don’t want to raise children in the suburbs. We’re not trying to suburbanize the place — we made a deliberate decision to not live in the suburbs.

  2. Chris Bray

    April 29, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    Part two is that the fake controversy is based on a false dichotomy: parents vs. gays and lesbians, parents vs. Sunset Strip rock musicians. Stop by the playgrounds at Plummer Park or West Hollywood Park sometime — the people who are supposedly positioned on the other side of a divide against parents are among the people who are parents. Heather really does sometimes have two mommies. If you celebrate the diversity of the city, take a moment to notice the diversity of its families.

  3. Chris Bray

    April 29, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    Sorry to go on about this, but now that I’m thinking about it… It’s true that the population of children and families has declined in West Hollywood over the last ten years, but you have to understand that decline in its context: the ENTIRE population of West Hollywood has declined over the last ten years. It’s expensive to live here, and local business is in decline as the city is corporatized by bad public policy choices that favor big business over small. We have bad local politics, not a bad local culture.

  4. admin

    April 29, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Hey Chris, thanks for your comments! I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that families are all on one side of this issue. As you point out, you are fully aware of the environment here where you are raising your kids… I think that is wonderful. I tried to cover that with the last comment I quoted in the post but I guess I could have done better. I’m only aghast at the people who want to make weho more “family friendly” and are campaigning for changes. Doing that is like marrying someone you expect to change, in my opinion. I certainly don’t mean to paint all parents in Weho with the same broad brush.

  5. Chris Bray

    April 29, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    No worries! I was mostly thinking about the Weho Patch posting, and also about John Duran, who I think started off this whole discussion around a false dichotomy…

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