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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
 
 
On Thursday, March 30, 1995 8:35PM, Cindy H-G  <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
 
 
>>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,
>>rudestsitcom 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?
 
I tend to agree that these portrayals of children/teen-agers over the past
ten years
or so has indeed contributed to a break down in what American society views
as acceptable behavior on the part of its young people.  (My own thoughts
about this scare me, though, because I was not exactly a model of compliance
 
and sweetness in my own youth.)  In particular, I despised the young
protagonist of
the hugely popular "Home Alone."
 
A recent article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled "Moral Credibility and
Crime" examined some of the underlying reasons why people obey the law, and
according to the sociological studies cited in the article, the primary
reason
people remain law abiding is fear of social disapproval.  It does seem to
me that over the years, depictions of disrespect for authority and authority
 
figures (parents, teachers, police, etc.) have become the rule rather than
the
exception in film and television programs aimed at young viewers.  I think
these programs contribute to America's continuing problems with violent
crime, perhaps to a greater extent than the action films.  After all, there
were
some pretty violent films (albeit not as graphic) made in decades past,
when America's crime rate was significantly lower -- but there were also
those
Donna Reed-type programs that maybe provided a sturdier moral foundation
to impressionable American youth.
 
Of course, my own rambling here inevitably leads us back to the old argument
does the media create our cultural or merely mirror it?