I don't watch much TV, but I feel fairly certain in saying the following: No one talks of giving to charity on TV; no one talks of going to PTA meetings, City commission meetings. Basically, no one talks about serious matters on TV.
All the above came to me when I was reading a criticism of the younger generation--they are part of a passive society, a society that sees everything in terms of its open mouth -- fill it with something. Satisfy them, give them things. But who is it who preaches such an approach to them? Who teaches them values? TV teaches them values. What they see on TV is buy, buy, buy. Satisfy yourself. Get money, any way you can, and buy yourself the good life.
The interviewer, Bill Moyers said: "The other day ..I ...saw a beautifully crafted commercial for a high-powered, fast, expensive car." That line says it all. That's what's on TV. Consume. See yourself in that car. Those kinds of messages are unbelievable -- cars, houses, clothes, beer -- everything you want, for you, to please you, or to please those individuals you love.
We know TV affects our values -- or it affects the way we look at the world, the way we see ourselves. But we can't see what is most obvious: all of TV is geared towards personal pleasure. Or to reverse it: Nowhere, in this TV world we all inhabit for so many hours of the day -- is a concept of service, of sacrifice, of duty to others set forth.
Television is is an alternative world, an alternative universe, and we spend many hours within that universe -- sometimes more hours than we spend in the real universe. We don't socialize. We don't visit each other and we don't visit family, in real life. We see family life, we visit people, inside our TVs.
I could give you example after example of how people, consciously & unconsciously, reveal that they mix up real life & TV life. One quick one will do. The actor who played Marcus Welby M.D. received thousands upon thousands of questions that one would address to a real doctor. That single example should make clear how we mix up real life and TV.
And to get back to my original point, TV teaches the wrong values --consume, do not think of giving of yourself -- think of giving too yourself. That is the wrong message -- and it is a message beamed daily to absolutely everyone in America.
Copyright © 2004 Henry Morgenstein
Henry's Home Page