COLUMN: Television sets bad examples for Americans

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:50 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It seems like only yesterday when most people were concerned about protecting their privacy. Now it seems like a number of people are clamoring for their own reality television show where they are willing to throw their doors wide open and let the world peek inside. Apparently, it has come to the point where this is one of the few ways left for individuals who have nothing else to offer to achieve celebrity. Gain an appearance on TV and you become a star.

It’s the new game some parents want to get their children to play. For years it was making little girls up to resemble prostitutes and entering them in beauty pageants. If they won enough contests, they could be the principal wage earners for the family. Now if they can get on television, they can do the same thing.

It is unfortunate that so many have lost the ability to entertain themselves and that sitting on the couch watching anything makes for a great evening. And since we live in a country where there are few parenting rules or regulations, parents feel free to exploit their children in any number of ways. While some are selling them into outright sexual slavery, others are selling them any way they can. Shaming these parents doesn’t seem to do any good.

A man told me the other day that he hadn’t watched television since his antenna stopped working, and he didn’t miss a thing. I’m personally waiting to get my satellite radio working so that I can start tuning out. At one time it was enough to point out that television was a big disappointment, but unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, some of its programming is actually socially harmful. But I also believe it would be a waste of time for people to attempt to do anything about it. I truly feel that we have reached the point of no return where our freedoms are concerned. Unless one is prepared to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, attempting to challenge anybody about his or her right to do anything is pointless.

I think it is unrealistic to expect parents to be able to monitor what children are watching all the time. Furthermore, what they don’t get to watch at home they can probably watch elsewhere. We have become such an unaccountable society that almost anything is acceptable in America. I’ve heard stories recently of individuals entering popular stores, only partially dressed. Obviously, this now falls into the category of freedom of expression. In a few years we probably won’t need government, because our leaders won’t be in charge of anything.

Those of us who still value our privacy realize now that we can only expect that scenario when we are behind our own closed doors. Outside our own walls, with all the cell phones, we are virtually in the camera’s lens wherever we go.

Most us lead fairly ordinary lives, so I find it a little incredible that those who want reality shows, believe that others would find their comings and goings interesting. Even when people lead extraordinarily exciting lives, I’m not sure other people would necessarily be interested in watching them. I tend to believe that most individuals are far more concerned with their own lives than they are other people’s. Still, I suspect, these are the kinds of people who don’t find television all that compelling.

With celebrities claiming so much money and so much attention in our society, it’s understandable that a lot of young people would strive to get more attention for themselves. But it is true that too many teenagers and young adults, who have grown up without a lot of love, tend to go looking for it in the wrong places.

Last week, I flipped to a television program aimed at young women that was not only tasteless it was absolutely obscene and vulgar. There is no doubt in my mind that it will become one of the season’s most popular programs and probably go on to win an Emmy Award.

Unless young people have parents, members of their families and their communities whom are setting positive examples before them, I don’t know how or why they will ever endeavor to build productive and meaningful lives.

I know that many people have tremendous faith that this country will turn itself around without any encouragement. Forgive my lack of optimism. I think the only thing we can do is to do our best wherever we are and hope we can make a difference in one person’s life.

Good luck.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at


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Allan Sharrock January 19, 2010 | 5:16 p.m.

Good article.

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