Mary Arline (queen_of_kithia) wrote,
Mary Arline

On a related tangent

(Tangential to this...)

I'm getting so sick of people accusing kids' shows (or movies, etc.) of (a) being propaganda, (b) having secret agendas and/or (c) brainwashing kids. The next time I hear someone make such an idiotic claim, I think I'm going to scream.

When I was teaching Comp 101, I had several students every semester who would try to argue for more government control/censorship of television, and it was always rather amusing to poke holes in their arguments. They would always say things like, "Oh, parents can't always control what their children are watching because so many kids have TVs in their own rooms!" and I would say, "Well, why don't the parents just take the TVs out of their rooms? Or, not put TVs in the kids' rooms to begin with? You know, since they're parents and all." Or else they'd say things like, "Oh, there is absolutely awful stuff on cable that is on at all hours of the day for kids to find and watch at any time!" (which is totally true) and I would say, "If it bothers you so much, then just don't subscribe to cable. You get to prevent the pollution of your children's innocent minds AND you save a boatload of money. Sounds like a win-win situation to me." I believe at one point I even had a student come back and say something to the effect of, "Oh, cable programming is so horrible and not fit for anyone, but the parents shouldn't have to deprive themselves of the cable programming that they want to watch just to protect their children!" That's an exaggeration, but it was something similar to that. It gets to the point where not only do people not see the forest for the trees, but they are DETERMINED not to see the forest. Those trees are getting in their way of seeing the forest and nothing that you can say will convince them otherwise.

But I'd just like to take a moment and say this to the parents and pundits and other concerned citizens out there. You know what, people? This is America, and in America people have the right to free expression, and that includes people who make kids' TV shows or movies or whatever. Now, if something has content that is genuinely objectionable to you, you have every right as a parent to put your foot down and prevent your children from watching it. In fact, that's actually part of your job as a parent. You shouldn't expect the government or the media outlets or whoever else to do your job for you.

But the fact of the matter is, eventually your children are going to be exposed to ideas that are different than yours. I'm sorry, but there's no way to prevent that. You can police their reading, monitor their TV viewing, keep them home from movies, work to get books banned from your school libraries, etc., but no matter what you do, sooner or later, whether as preschoolers or high schoolers or college students or adults, your children are going to be exposed to different ideas. So it might be a good idea for you to watch these shows (or movies or what-have-you) WITH your children while they are young and still take everything that you say at face value, and explain to them as you're watching it why you find it objectionable and how the ideas and values it presents are different than yours. You can't prevent the exposure from happening, but you can exert some control over the circumstances in which it happens...for a while, anyway.

I know, that sounds like a lot of work. But you know what? Parenting IS a lot of work. I'm sorry that no one explained that to you BEFORE you had kids, but now you know. I know that it's so much easier for you when you can just plop your kids down in front of Barney or whatever and take a little break from parenting, knowing that nothing remotely controversial or objectionable or substantial or of any educational or aesthetic value whatsoever is going to enter their little brains, but you're not doing your kids any favors when you do that. Moreover, if you took the time and energy you spend complaining about this or that TV show, or trying to get this or that book banned from the school library, you would have a lot more time and energy to spend on actually parenting your kids.
Tags: books, films, idiocy, television
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