How Valid Is Mary Whitehouse’s View That the Media Was Responsible for a Decline in Moral Standards in the 1960s-1970s?

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The English social activist Constance Mary Whitehouse was often renowned for her opposition to social liberalism and mainstream media, which she often claimed to be root cause of a more permissive society in Britain. Although, the extent to which we can deem this view valid is debatable. There is evidence leaning on both sides of the argument; but of course it is unquestionable that Britain did see a sudden uprising of permissiveness and overt moral decline to which Whitehouse responded briskly, founding and setting up the ‘National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association’ via which she campaigned against the BBC n the 60’s. The question is; was she justified in going to these lengths to essentially try and censor media? Surely, if she injected such a vast amount of effort into doing so, then she must have some sort of validity in her view? Or perhaps, there were other factors which she did not take into account.

The notion of Television being the main medium of influence of this period is irrefutable, with 95% of British households owning one by the end of the 1960s. Although the fact that the government set up the Committee of Inquiry on Broadcasting could in itself suggest that media had partial censorship (thus disallowing any real explicit broadcasts which could lead to a moral decline), they did little to stop, and actually welcomed the hard-hitting ‘social realist’ plays such as ‘up the junction (1965)’ and ‘Come Home Cathy (1966)’, as they were a replacement for the supposedly ‘vulgar’ American style programmes on ITV such as ‘Take Your Pick (1958-66)’ and the Westerns/Crime Dramas which they feared would erode British culture and make people more violent. Though, these plays did could be argued to have ‘worsened’ the situation as, for example, ‘Up the Junction’ depicted quite a graphic and powerful home abortion scene, and it is suggested that this may have been one of the causes of the 1967 Abortion Act to be passed; which of course consequently lead to...
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