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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