The girls want a television in their room. This is one of the first of the conversations in their lives that will end in their frustration. They don’t have any idea why I’m saying “no.” I tell them I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I tell them I don’t think they should be sitting around watching television in their room all day. They promise they won’t. I still say no. I drag them outside and they forget for a while.
What I don’t tell them is the truth. If one looks objectively at our popular culture you would be forced to assume we are a nation of latent serial killers or a nation of thirteen year old boys.
We’re obsessed with sex and death.
Sex, according to the intelligentsia, is supposed to mean nothing; it’s just a physical act. But it is the main topic of our public conversation, our commerce and our media. Our popular culture is soaked in sex. For something which means nothing we spend an awful lot of time talking about it.
And how many movies and television shows have we seen the past decade about serial killers? Some of these serial killers we even root for like the upcoming Mr. Brooks or Hannibal Lecter.
Our shows at night are death soaked from Phil Specter, Dr. Michael Beeden (the autopsy expert), Anna Nicole Smith, and Terri Schiavo. Law & Order and CSI’s and all their spin-off’s are on seemingly every night. Remember Chandra Levy. Jack Kevorkian just got out of jail so we’ll be hearing from him again.
When the liberator’s of the 1960’s rioted and protested and made love in the fields of Woodstock we were told that the apotheosis of their utopia would be love, love, love. The further we get from our traditional culture that supposedly shackled us, the farther we seemingly get from love.
Culture used to be something grownups bequeathed to their children. But grownups are out of the mainstream now. And I think our children lose something by that. There’s nothing left for them to aspire to.
When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be John Wayne. My dad watched his movies on television –every single one of them. So that’s what we watched. We had one television so I had no choice. It was the Mets, Notre Dame football, Abbot and Costello, John Wayne, and Sunday football. That’s all my Dad’s television played. He didn’t need a V-Chip. We wouldn’t have dreamed of changing the channel. Actually, we didn’t know anything else was on.
But now so many children have their own television in their room so they watch Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, and MTV so they aspire to be…socialite alcoholic sluts. Sorry but it’s true.
And then on top of their misguided aspiration, kids are given enough money by their parents to at least make a pretty good attempt at realizing their aspirations. They buy whatever they want including inappropriate outfits, cd’s with racist and misogynistic lyrics, Ipods, cell phones, DVD’s. The children rule the culture because their parents are the funders of the indiscriminate purchases of their children.
The big media giants are only responding to where the money is. If we stop giving our children carte blanche on the credit cards, take away the television from their room I believe the culture will start growing up. It’s up to us. I hope it’s not too late.