Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Television Programs

We are all familiar with how characters in television programs convince us to mimic them in our daily lives.  We know people who feel they have to botox their faces, shave their arms, buy the latest fashions, and use the latest lingo, because it is the cool thing to do.  Unfortunately, we are being programmed far beyond superficial fancies.  The personalities of characters and the character’s responses to situations and to the other characters, teaches us how to respond and how to be, usually without us being aware of it.

Take the television cartoon version of “Wonder Woman”, for example.  In The Super Friends version of 1977, she is feminine, gentle, compassionate, and co-operative.  Her body is soft and her voice is nice.  In The Justice League of the 2000’s, she is masculine, aggressive, and competitive.  Her body is chiseled and her voice harsh.  Television is informing the public that femininity is weak and that girls need to emulate the new “Wonder Woman”, when the older version always got the job done just fine.

The Super Friends team is co-operative with discussions on who would be best suited for any given situation.  In The Justice League, they all think they are the best suited for the job.  My generation watched the discussions of the super heroes, even when time was of the essence, as they decided together who would be best as the so called leader, or main avenger.  The modern version is teaching children that the thing to do is to assume you are the best suited for the job as The Justice League do, and to take the glamorous position. 

The Waltons had “John Boy,” who would not answer back to his mother and who would milk the cow even though he wanted to do many other things.  Family Affair had the twins “Buffy” and “Jody” who, in one episode, spent time with a lonely, older gentleman and as a consequence were faced with the dilemma of an inheritance and the responsibilities that can come with it.  They were thoughtful of one another and in the end, mindful of the old man and what he would want.  In contrast, many shows involving young people today center around egocentric characters bent on getting what they want.

I am not advocating watching television.  I am just suggesting you notice what messages the shows are sending to you and to your children, and I am suggesting that perhaps some older television programs are less aggressive over all.  Of course, you can have discussions about all the drinking that was done on Bewitched, and the limited thinking where woman’s rights were lacking and prejudices were rampant in other shows, but there is a quieter, gentler, slower pace to a lot of the older shows in comparison to today’s shows.  One Bonanza episode featured Dawn Wells as a native girl.  When she revealed the whipped and abused back of a child, the camera was on the faces of the men seeing the damage to the boy’s back, not on the boy’s back itself.  The viewer was invited to use his or her own imagination to fill in the picture.  Today’s television spells everything out for the viewer, leaving no room for imagination.

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