Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oh My God, TV Killed Kenny!

    I don't watch anything on TV at all. I don't even own one. Can you say that? I do have Netflix though, and I'm addicted like a junkie, with a needle full of South Park, Wilfred, Spongebob Squarepants and Jersey Shore. I don't even want to like Jersey Shore. I watched two episodes as research for a writing project with my wife, and now I've seen the whole series. It's cliche train-wreck entertainment, and it's human nature to be captivated by that sort of deplorable, shameful activity. That's something really bothersome to me, the fact that it's in my nature. To be so entertained by something so negative, to encourage it and give it beyond safe haven but a glorified status, is truly alarming. I love the dreck on TV, but the implications really bother me.
    We all make our own individual judgements when we see borderline abusive parents on Toddlers & Tiaras, or the alcoholic sociopaths on Jersey Shore, however the simple fact that they are on the air at all, and that millions tune in indicate that as a society we approve of these behaviors. At the very least, we are saying that it's ok for some people to act that way for entertainment. As a society we should shun this sort of thing. Even shows that aren't reality TV, such as Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy put societally detrimental activity on a pedestal. I'm undeniably part of the problem right now, too. I love watching U.F.C. fights but I also realize that its not much more civilized than slaves forced to fight for the amusement of ancient Romans. Even shows that seem harmless can have far-reaching negative consequences. For decades, family sitcoms have put a positive spotlight on dysfunction. Husbands and wives who fight and manipulate each other are made to seem like the relationship we should all have. Also, myriad shows targeting children are similarly teaching negative relationship stereotypes to children of today, and parents are all too happy to let TV raise their children.
    So what is there to be done about it? It's very difficult to say. If mass media is affecting our development, and we are the ones making the TV shows, it becomes a vicious circle. It will take a long-term conscious effort on the part of everyone who watches TV and goes to the movies. We flock to the comfort of familiar programming, with familiar themes, but those themes are what we need to change. Unfortunately those themes reflect on us as people. While we aren't all sexual predators, we all don't make five year old girls parade around in bathing suits for the whole country, and we don't all cook meth, there is something about the bad behavior that we love to hate. To move forward as a society we must find away to put our morbid fascinations aside in favor of the good judgement we all posses. We know these things are bad, its part of the reason we are drawn to them. Now we need to find a new way to put our curiosity aside long enough to punish the bad behavior before we end up rewarding it again.

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