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March 1995, Week 5


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Jajasoon Tlitteu <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 31 Mar 1995 12:43:44 CST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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>Most discussions about the harmful effects of Film and TV on impressionable
>minds center on sex and violence.  Personally, I think the lowbrow sitcoms are
>possibly more dangerous, in an insidious way.  I really think few people go
>out and try deadly car chases, searing fires, etc. because they've seen them
>on TV, but all the time you can see teenagers acting like the stupidest, rudest
>sitcom characters. These characters are at first intended to be parodies of
>stupidity, but as they become known and loved, they gradually become "real"
>and their style becomes a real style in the junior highs and high schools of
>the country. Rudeness that once would have had "Ooooh!" entertainment value
>becomes the normal, cool way kids mouth off to each other, parents, teachers,
>etc. And THAT is more dangerous to the moral fabric than outrageous and inimi-
>table violence, partly because it sneaks in without causing alarm and imper-
>ceptibly shifts from being "put on" for humor to being a basic style and iden-
>tity.  I'm not recommending that we all go back to reruns of Donna Reed, but
>I do see this happening.  Any comments, reactions?
So rudeness and feigned stupidity is causing the awful rotting from within
that's destroying today's society?  I don't see it.
But let me weigh in against the whole thread of discussing causality in the
media and society that has been running for awhile on this list.  People
don't watch TV and blindly follow its commands.  People interact and engage
with TV, creating their own "effects" through negotiating with the text.
Take the vague anti-rudeness sentiment expressed above.  Not knowing what
shows she was specifically referring to, let's take The Simpsons as an
example.  Bart is obviously "rude" to the adults on the show and Cindy
suggests that kids are effected by this by mimicking him.  I would suggest
that Bart's anti-authoritarian strains tap into threads within many
children who are forced to subject themselves to education, religious, and
family systems that devalue and ignore them at every turn.  Does Bart cause
them to say "Eat My Shorts" or does it have to do with the fact that the
system treats them like dirt and this is a clear (and fun) way to rebel?
jajasoon tlitteu  ([log in to unmask])
"You've probably heard that Microsoft has recently taken over the Catholic
Church. The Vatican was pleased, saying, 'Well, we've been using icons for
over 2000 years, and Microsoft has only been using them for 3, so we figure
we'll be able to help them out a bit.'"