Jewish World Review April 27, 2004 / 6 Iyar, 5764
Dean P. Johnson
Once again, it's TV's fault
Recent research claims that television may "rewire" children's developing
brains increasing their chances of having attention deficits.
It was only a couple of years ago that health experts in London stated
that television influences what, where and how much children eat showing a
direct correlation between television viewing and obesity. According to
experts, a 2002
California study said that a quarter of a child's total food intake occurs
in front of the TV.
Haven't we already blamed child violence, disrespectful attitudes, failing
grades, illiteracy and a multitude of various domestic disturbances -
especially during football season - on television?
Is there nothing we can't blame on good ol' television?
Why not road rage? Besides being inspired by examples of the violent
highway phenomenon on the evening news, being stuck in traffic while
hurrying home to see a specific show on TV will rile up the dander of the
most passive driver.
Crime could be televisions fault as well. What could be more rousing to
the aspiring criminal than a slick bank robbery, a cool chase, a mutual
respect between robbers and cops as seen on TV?
Stupidity itself, if not wholly television's fault, could easily be
correlated to the amount of television viewing from the simplest, a dumbest,
childish stunt on a skateboard to corporate abracadabra. One interesting
study could be
how many hours Enron executives or Martha Stewart watched Dallas and
Dynasty during the Eighties. It's surprising that greed was listed in the
top seven most deadly sins before television. How could everyone have known
without seeing it on TV?
It is obvious to me that television, like lawyers in the Eighties and
disco in the Seventies, has become the scapegoat of our time.
But where are her defenders? Where are all those who were raised on
television? Have they abandoned her when she needs them the most?
Lest we forget that she has always been there for us. When we were
learning how to count and to say our ABC's, who was there to sing them to us
as we sat on the curbs of Sesame Street? When we had nothing to do on
Saturday mornings, who was there to animate our day? When we were feeling
sad, who made us
laugh with the likes of Bill Cosby, Michael J. Fox, Tony Danza and Tom
Hanks wearing a dress? When we were feeling unloved, who gave us hope with
Love American Style or The Love Boat? When our lives seem dull and
unimaginative, who gave us Fantasy Island? When we needed good, wholesome
fatherly advice, who gave us Mike Brady or Mr. Cunningham? When we needed
to learn how to be cool, who gave us the Fonz? When we were never cool, who
gave us Square Pegs to tell us it was okay to be a nerd? When girls were
supposed to live at home until marriage, who showed us the way with Laverne
and Shirley? When we would do something embarrassingly dumb, who gave us
Seinfeld to show us how to laugh at
ourselves? When we would feel guilt for tinges of prejudice in our jokes,
who was it that gave us Archie Bunker to show us just how funny misogyny and
Who was it that taught us even kids in the slow class could be witty with
a teacher like Mr. Kotter? Who showed us how crime fighting and race
relations can be accomplished with the style and finesse of Crocket and
Tubbs? Who gave us model families like the Keatons, the Partridges, the
Jeffersons, and, of
course, the Waltons to emulate in our adulthood?
Who did all this for us? Television, that's who.
We don't need anyone to tell us about our television. Remember how it felt
when we were too sick to go to school but not to sick to watch TV? Remember
how we'd watch the Price Is Right and how we knew that a box of Rice-A-Roni
(that San Francisco Treat) was less expensive than a box of Bisquick because
always had to go grocery shopping with our mothers?
She needs us now more than ever. We must rally to her defense. We must
show her support by taking responsibility for our own actions and for
allowing our children to watch television unsupervised for hours upon hours.
blame the cigarette for emphysema, the drink for alcoholism, the gun for
murder, or the cell phone for reckless driving, right? So you can't blame
television for anything but fine, loving companionship.
JWR contributor Dean P. Johnson's columns appear in Los Angeles Times, New York Times,
Christian Science Monitor, Hartford Courant, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, San
Francisco Examiner, Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, Atlantic City Press, Philadelphia
Inquirer among other smaller papers.
Comment by clicking here.
03/31/04: My kids have been watching the news again!
03/26/04: Why are we still annoying Americans with metrics?
© 2004, Dean P. Johnson