Monday, May 09, 2005

Call Me Pollyanna

So I read this article the other day, and for some reason, it really struck a chord with me. Now, I actually view myself as a fairly liberal person, with a few streaks of conservatism thrown in just for fun. One of those points of conservatism happens to be concern with big bad media.

And when I say media, I mean all types. From computers to magazines to television to the bags that clothing stores put your clothes in for you to tote home.

I can honestly say that before my son was born, I saw media as fairly harmless and something that was just an annoying obstruction to finishing the latest episode of Seinfeld. But as I became a paranoid parent, I began seeing media bugaboos practically everywhere. Obviously, violent tv, porn, and video games are easy targets. Then came half-naked, or in one store's case, all-naked models in clothing catalogues. How about provocative billboards on the freeway for "gentlemen's clubs?"

Some of this is done under the dubious guise of high art, but really it is all about advertisers upping the ante with a public that is so over-exposed to media that they practically need to have ads that literally slap you in the face to get your attention. Much of what media does is driven solely by the bottom line, and I think that is where I start to get all huffy about it.

The biggest problem I have with media is that it is so pervasive, so all-encompassing in our society, that short of living with your children in a shack out in the hinterlands, there is virtually no way of escaping it. Even if you don't let your kid watch a certain kind of movie, their friends probably will, and will tell them about it in excruciating detail.

So with that sense of pervasiveness comes a sense of helplessness, at least to me. There are unfortunately more questions than answers. Oh, its fine and dandy that I only let Mr. Personality watch public television now, but what happens as he gets older? Will he be considered a freak at school because his mom wasn't hip enough to let him watch MTV's Spring Break? Will my misguided values backfire on me when he resents me for allowing him to own only Gran Turismo and Donkey Kong?

If I write a nasty letter to NBC about them showing shots of violently killed corpses on daytime telvision commercials, will that really do a thing? If I, Gina, boycott Abercrombie & Fitch because they have a picture of a topless girl on their bags, will it make them suddenly uncool? Rhetorical questions here, my friends.

How is it possible to stop the onslaught of questionable media? Should I just shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, that's life in the 21st century and I'd better get used to it?" I know there are V-chips and things, and all those can be utilized as one wishes. I know that there has always been violence and depravity in the world, and there always will be. I don't think there is anything shameful about natural human nudity, either. I know it is impossible to shield children from all the nasty things in the world. I don't think anyone I know would use the term "Pollyanna" to describe me. I believe in the 1st Amendment. But, should I really have to explain what the woman with the pouting lips, heavy-lidded eyes, and heaving bosoms on prominent display is doing on that billboard to my 4 year old as we are passing by on the freeway?

If there is a battle going on, where do I enlist?


Mel said...

All very good questions.

Heather said...

I am right there with you, Gina. I don't want to be a pro-censorship right-wing prude, but I my righteous anger starts to boil when I see all the crap our kids are subjected to. And like you say, it's so hard to keep them away from it when all their friends are seeing it.

Gina said...

Exactly! I am not a pro-censorship kind of person either. I think consenting adults can do what they will, but when children are drawn into adult content, that is where I draw the line.