Elster's World

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Devil Wears Many Faces

One of them is television.

Let's start with that premise as a given. While I don't say that all television is bad (in fact I feel just the opposite), I am saying that certainly some television is bad and too much television is bad.

I come from a long line of proud tv watchers. I watched way too much tv as a kid. I distinctly remember coming home from school, dropping the coat on the floor, and heading right down to the basement for some serious relaxation in front of the tube. Whether it was Batman and his possibly gay sidekick, or the Skipper and his doofus sidekick, or even Moe and his two moron sidekicks, there was always something on to dazzle and entrance.

Today, television has become so sophisticated that it attempts to target and reach every possible audience. I have DirecTv. I have movie channels, sports channels, fix-it channels, news channels, cartoon channels that show old cartoons form the 60's and 70's (my daughter's favorite tv show is Scooby Doo), channels aimed at kids, etc. I could go on all day. Really,. I could. There is a show for every person and a person for every show.

But what does this all mean for us? Certainly, I am not getting on my high horse and saying that all television is bad. As mentioned above, I firmly believe that tv has a number of meritorious qualities. But as the values of society decrease, art imitates life, and the next thing you know the bar has been lowered another notch. (Or, perhaps, it's the other way around. Perhaps its visual media like tv and movies which are muddying up society. Or maybe they are simbiotic - each equally pulling our ethical world deeper into oblivion. But, as I hate philosophical questions, I digress.)

The perfect example of this moral morass is Friends. Now, I have always disliked that show and never really watched it. But I have seen more than enough episodes to know that 60 to 70 percent of the show's attempts to make its audience laugh were sex jokes. Now I'm not a prude, but that's a lot of sex jokes. Especially when that show was on at 8:00 pm, prime kid watching time. So let's get this straight. It's not ok to have wardrobe malfunctions during the Super Bowl - in fact said malfunction is a cause for major uproar in the world and exessesive finings, but no one has a problem with shows that hundreds of thousands of children under 15 are watching that have semi-naked chicks, mild cursing and tons of sexual innuendo? Huh? What am I missing here? How did that suddenly become ok? And why do we think that because the Hollywood Left shouts louder than the Right about censorship, that somehow makes them "right"?

Hey, I love South Park as much as the next guy. I think the show uses its crudeness as a filter for its brilliant social satire. Nothing makes me laugh as much (except maybe the Simpsons). But given a choice, I would say it's better that this show was never created. Not for me. I will not be corrupted by Stan, Kyle and Cartman's cussing. But rather, that 7 year old kid who has clueless parents will be.

I have reached that point where I don't watch that much tv any more. I still watch a good amount of sports, but I really am down to a couple of "must see" shows (Lost, 24 and the underrated and misunderstood Veronica Mars). Maye that's still too much. Who knows.

So...where do we draw the line? It's clear that the 2,356 networks out there are not going to do it for us. Everyone needs to decide for themselves how much is enough. And more importantly, decide for our children. Putting aside the question of whether or not my kids should watch tv at all (because they do), we try and filter what it is that they are watching. For example, no shows where the characters use the word "stupid" (that means you, Arthur). Alot of harmless videos (ah Dumbo, you silly floppy eared pacyderm). Yes, many of you will argue that's not enough. Any tv is too much tv. And I do not begrudge you your opinion.

Wow, a tv rant. Where in the world did that come from? My posts are usually reactionary. Hmm, in the immortal words of Yoda, ponder this I must. But valid points all the same. Agree? Disagree? Reactions?


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