Sometimes it amazes me how television has changed. When I was a kid, Dukes of Hazzard was considered vulgar and moved to late night TV. Watching the DVD’s now, Daisy was more covered in her bikini than a lot of today’s kids in the sitcoms. As if I needed a reminder of the type of violence and disrespect that we now accept seeing on television, I caught an old re-run of the Andy Griffith show. In the show, a spoiled brat kid disrespects the law, his parents and teaches other kids (Opie) how to behave the same. The show ends with Andy pointing out to the father that if he doesn’t allow his child to have consequences to his actions, how will he become a well functioning member of society? When the son tells Sheriff Andy that he would rather his father go to jail than have his bike impounded, the father finally gets a clue and Andy offers to let the father continue his conversation with his boy in the privacy of the woodshed behind the sheriff’s office.
DH and I looked at each other and decided no way could that show be filmed today. First off, the father wouldn’t have brought his boy down to the sheriff’s office; he would have sent his lawyer with a discrimination suit. If the father had come down and the woodshed was mentioned, he would have sued for the sheriff encouraging child abuse. And the premise wouldn’t have come up in the first place because the kid would have been playing video games instead of riding his bike on the sidewalk. Of course, come to think of it, the kid wouldn’t have a father, he would be living with his single mother and the only male role models he would have would be the homosexual couple next door and the drug dealer on the street corner. The last real father I remember seeing on television was Bill Cosby and that’s been a few years now.
So is it the fault of the media and the video games that we’ve become so dependent on sex and violence in our entertainment? No, it comes back to individual responsibility. If no one watched the violent shows, if R rated movies didn’t make money, then eventually the bean counters in Hollywood would kill the projects. We would still have some of the “artistic vision” people pushing the edges of the envelope. The problem I see is as the edges get pushed, what used to be the edge starts seeming normal and we as the viewers forget that it used to be disgusting to us, we forget to complain, and we forget to turn it off.
Again, is it the fault of the media and video games that children are disrespectful and violent? No, it’s the fault of the parents who let them get away with that type of behavior and accept it as normal. Acceptance ends up being tacit encouragement and those who don’t know any better will let their children push the envelope even further until there are no boundaries at all. And when children without boundaries breed, the next generation has to do even more to get attention. It’s a vicious cycle.