The terminal spectator

The indicator known as the GG (after George Gerbner of the Annenberg School for Communication, in Pennsylvania) was used in September 1995 by the French Higher Council for Audio-visual Matters (CSA) for its report “on the presentation of violence in fiction on French television” (Libération, a French national daily paper, January 15, 1996).

GG = 100α + 2β + 2φ + 100λ + 100μ, with

α : the proportion of shows containing a violent sequence,

β : the number of violent sequences per show,

φ : the number of violent sequences per hour,

λ : the proportion of main characters involved in violent acts (as author or victim),

μ : the proportion of main characters involved in killings.

GG is calculated on a weekly basis.

The following definitions taken from the Petit Robert dictionary may be helpful :

Main character : the most important one (sic).

Sequence : a series of shots forming a whole with respect to the particular dramatic action shown.

Violent : 1 – acting or expressing itself without any reserve, 2 – having an intense effect on the senses, 3 – excessive. Whence the possibility of calculating three different indicators, called GG1, GG2 and GG3.

To avoid introducing choices that may upon closer inspection be found specious, calculation of the indicator may be done using the harmonic average of GG1, GG2 and GG3. Do your own reckoning :

— If GG ² 100 : you belong to the category of people who only watch the weather report, in good weather, and then, “Good night kids”.

— 100 < GG ² 200 : your index is pretty much the average for the French stations (146.89 according to the CSA), which proves that you watch practically anything and everything (you make random choices).

— 200 <GG ² 300 : do not exceed the amount prescribed by your doctor. Consult if needed.

— GG > 300 : Get rid of your TV set fast, before it’s too late. Your intimates are in danger, you are about to commit the irreparable.

Pierre V. Tournier
August 1996

Penumbra, 2001 June