Innocence lost.

David Schwimmer, TV star and director of “Trust”,  on the internet, pornography, and loss of innocence:

“When I was 13 it was a real challenge to get your hands on Playboy. But today unfortunately most kids before the age of 13 have seen pornography online and not just a still image, [it is] moving pictures. And if you’re a 9- or 10-year-old, and your first encounter with sexuality is some kind of pornography online, then that’s a definitely a loss of innocence.”

Schwimmer further argues that the Internet isn’t the only culprit – that we’re seeing a cultural shift on how we view and define pornography:

“Unfortunately [there is a lot of] sexualization of young adults in advertising. There used to be a big uproar about Brooke Shields in her jeans 15, 20 years ago, but now people take it for granted. I think it is a shame and I find it pretty disturbing to see a huge billboard in New York – you see a young girl that looks 15 maybe, although you can’t tell. You’re like, ‘wait a minute she’s in her underwear on the floor of a dirty hotel room or something.’ But you just drive by and you’re used to it. I think it’s a problem, and it contributes to [the loss of innocence].”

It’s not often that mainstream Hollywood figures start conversations about advertising, culture and the loss of innocence.

Let’s take a look at the ad responsible for the controversy Schwimmer mentioned above. It’s from 1985, courtesy of Calvin Klein, notorious for pushing the envelope of acceptability. At the time, this generated considerable press and outrage over its portrayal of a young Brooke Shields.

What is your reaction to this ad? Are you incensed at what it portrays, the values it seems to promote? How do you feel about your 13-year old son or daughter standing in front of this ad at the mall? Does it make you want to change the way you shop or the way you think about advertising and culture?

Notice how you feel about this picture and then take a look at the next one.

This 2010 Calvin Klein billboard is currently on display in New York.  

What is your reaction to this ad? Are you incensed at what it portrays, the values it seems to promote? How do you feel about your 13-year old son or daughter standing in front of this ad at the mall? Does it make you want to change the way you shop or the way you think about advertising and culture and loss of innocence?

If TV commercials, movie ratings, and print advertisements over the last 25 years are the barometer, then the next quarter decade of cultural evolution will bring the US to par with current day Europe. Full frontal nudity and use of the “f” word on primetime TV and PG-13 rated movies. Previously X-rated concepts available in R-rated films. A loss of innocence never before seen in recorded history. So, basically, a repeat of the last 25 years.

If we do not change the way we make choices within our culture, will innocence be regained? I think not. The cultural choices that we make every day - influences we choose to allow into our hearts, minds, and homes - influence our perceptions of what is good and what brings life. What messages do you allow into your daily world? What influences are hanging on the wall of your children’s room? Would they have been okay hanging in your room as a boy or girl? What do you think about that? What are you going to do about it?