Social Issues / The Media’S Decreasing Morals As Seen Through Television

The Media’S Decreasing Morals As Seen Through Television

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Autor:  anton  18 December 2010
Tags:  Medias,  Decreasing,  Morals,  Through,  Television
Words: 1319   |   Pages: 6
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In today’s world, it is not rare to walk into the living room and witness a man being violently shot in the head…in a television set. The general public seems to be constantly asking themselves where morality and values on television have gone. Taking a look back in time, it is easy to point out how violence in the media is much more evident than it was fifty years ago. Both in the past and now, the media has an ethical duty concerning the general public. Television’s content today has gotten incredibly dirty and contains content to detrimental for children. There have been advances in technology attempting to stop the violence from entering households with children. However it is still the responsibility of the media and the television industry to control the amount of immoral content shown on the air. While the media is only keeping up with the public’s distasteful demands, it has a responsibility to restrain the amount of offensive content because of the effect it is having on today’s audiences.

Consider the trajectory of sitcoms: strong and wholesome family values once promoted in past shows such as Leave it to Beaver and Andy Griffith have developed into the semi-dysfunctional and carefree family values of the present day. Currently, countless television shows, like Enterage and Weeds, both glamorize sexual promiscuity and frequently present illegal acts such as drug usage as acceptable (Bednarski). Movie characters, as well as the stars that portray them, disrespect authority and believe they can remain above the parameters of the law (Szaflik). On any given weeknight, a television viewer can tune into the immoral antics of reality television as well as the tasteless sitcoms and dramas that occupy their given timeslot. Whether portraying the scantily clad Paris Hilton or the stars of the OC, it seems that the Fox and ABC networks thrive to achieve an “almost-R rated” feeling to their programs (Szaflik). It seems television has lost its flair for wholesome entertainment and given into the pressures of an ever-changing world that boldly proclaims that less plot and more violence is better quality.

Today, watching television no longer consists of sitting around the living room with family members to see the next witty comment Mr. Ed has to say or if Opey forgot to do his algebra homework. For today’s audience, watching any sort of show promoting the feelings of lust, hatred, or intolerance seems to supersede the need to intake morality and honest behavior (Bednarski). America has turned to moral erosion rather than moral fiber. Commercials for alcohol dominate each station, and until recently, ads for cigarettes were aimed toward children (Blakey). While most of the blame must be placed on the media, part of the fault lies in the audience’s hands. The reason the networks continue to spew out less-than-classy shows like Temptation Island, and even supposedly acceptable shows like Sex and the City is because that is what viewers today crave. The media is only attempting to keep up with the demands it sees from today’s audiences (Bednarski).

Today, we live in a world of instant gratification because of the programming and services the media provides. Children often tricked into believing they sit at the center of the universe tend to pick up their behavior by watching the spoiled brats of today’s primetime and merely emulate the antics saturated in their impressionable minds (Halonen). They are frequently bombarded with messages of selfishness, greed, and “me first” attitudes (Blakey). These messages of vanity, illicit sex, hatred, physical aggression and rebellion against authority are boxed, wrapped, and marketed to an unsuspecting generation. It seems that television has taught today’s younger generations to solve problems through brute force. (Blakey) The media has said goodbye to television households featuring a functional and traditionally moral household. These days the programs people watch primarily feature divorced parents or estranged families, and the program’s children tend to demonstrate a spoiled or destructive manner about them. Recently, especially on cable networks, the drug abuse and sexual promiscuity, along with irreverent situations characters encounter in their thirty-minute primetime reign undoubtedly exceed entertainment purpose. (Szaflik)

Before the age of eighteen, the average American teen will have witnessed around eighteen thousand murders on television (Szaflik). While staggering in number, more disturbing has been the effect this steady diet of violence may have on American youth. Social scientists have attempted to measure television's effect on behavior in different ways, including laboratory studies, field experiments, and other analyses. Though none have been concluded as a direct cause and effect relationship, it becomes clear that watching television could very well contribute as one of a number of important factors affecting aggressive behavior (Halonen). Today, television serves as a babysitter, a safe haven from the streets, and as a way to avoid social interaction. People's dependence on television tends to stifle development of creativity and the way they view themselves and society (Szaflik). There have been, though, some advances in blocking bad content from children’s eyes.

Technology to block violence and offensive language from children has changed dramatically since the earlier years. In the 1950s, attentive parents never truly had to worry about blocking or editing their children's favorite programs. Nowadays, monitoring seems crucial to the responsible parent wanting to intervene in order to protect their children from a simulated rape or reality TV mass murder (Halonen). One step that the media has taken since the “innocent era of television” is creating technology to block programming including violence and offensive content from children (Hazlett). The V-chip, an electronic chip that works in conjunction with a person’s television, VCR, or cable box, blocks objectionable content on the television. If a person chooses to use the V-chip feature, he can select a rating level that he feels is appropriate for those watching his television (Hazlett). The V-chip reads the transmitted rating code for all programming and will automatically deny access to programming which exceeds the preset ratings limitation (Hazlett). TV-guardian, a device recently put on the market, may in fact surpass the V-chip through its extra features. Most parents limiting their children’s viewing simply turn off the unpleasant programs and their children cannot watch them. TV-guardian attempts to solve this problem by automatically editing out the offensive language. (Halonen) The V-chip, merely an automated on and off switch, differs from TV-guardian which automatically edits programs (Halonen). These gadgets are a huge step forward in the fight against modern violence and profanity on television, however, still have not solved the problem of the media’s lack of responsibility in its television programming.

While the television industry is only attempting to keep up with the public’s semi-objectionable demands, it has a responsibility to restrain the amount of offensive content because of the effect it is having on today’s audiences. Television shows have changed with the passing time. Children are being desensitized to bloodshed. Scientists have to keep up the progress of technology just to let parents be in control of an electronic device. The media needs to grasp a hold of the moral backbone television once appeared to be based on. This idea may seem like a fantasy but one has to admit with the ever-changing events in today’s world it may not be a stretch that it might benefit the world to have television return to the morals of the 1950s.

Works Cited

Bednarski, P.J. "The naked truth." Electronic Media 18.36 (1999): 9. Academic Search Premier. 8 April 2007.

Blakey, Rea. "Study links TV viewing among kids to later violence." 28 Mar 2002.

Hazlett, Thomas. "What's the V-Chip done for you lately." Requiem for the V-Chip. 13 Feb 2004. Slate. 9 Apr 2007. .

Halonen, Doug. "VALENTI HITS TV CENSORS' PAUSE BUTTON. (Cover story)." Television Week 25.16 (2006): 1-22. Academic Search Premier. 9 April 2007.

Szaflik, Kevin. "Violence on TV: The Desensitizing Of America." Questions and Effects. 24 Nov 2004. ridgenet. 9 Apr 2007. .

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