People around the country warned that violence may increase in the 21st Century– it did. They also warned that banks and computers may fail in the 21st Century– some did. And they even went to the extreme of warning that the world may come to an end in the 21st Century. However, no one bothered to inform me that the 21st Century would mark the beginning of the do-whatever, and say-whatever-you-want-on-television period.
Several years ago, I would come home from elementary school, and watch Jerry Springer every evening. One evening when I arrived home from school, my mother was home, but like usual, I turned on Springer. The episode was about a mother having an affair with her daughter’s husband. Similar to every other Springer episode, the guest started cussing, fighting and ripping off each other’s clothing. My mother, who had never seen Springer before, could not believe what was taking place on a major television network. Because of her shock, she immediately told me that she did not want me watching Springer anymore because, “This is trash,” she said.
Even though I was disappointed with my mother’s decision because I loved watching Springer, I was not that upset because I had a variety of things to watch on non-cable networks that were suited for children, and that could easily fill Springer’s 3 pm to 4 pm slot.
Back in the day, for the most part, with the exception of soap operas and a few talk-shows, afternoon and evening television programs considered their possible audience–children. Because there were not too many shows like Springer, children had a wide selection of things to watch on television. There was Goof Troops, Garfield, Chip and Dale, and a countless number of other cartoons that aired in the afternoons. For the children that were not interested in cartoons, there were appropriate sitcoms about productive people. Some include Family Matters, The Cosby Show and Full House.
Today, networks handle homes without cable in the same manner manufacturers handle purses, but instead of it being one size fits all; it is one show fits all. In homes with cable, parents have the option of telling their children to watch Disney and Nickelodeon only, believing that Disney and Nickelodeon will not harm their children. In homes without cable, television can, and is exposing people’s children to almost everything because it seems that sitcoms on non-cable networks have an intended audience of everyone. If parents cannot afford cable does that mean that children have to relinquish their rights to be children?
Who decided that “Bitch” and “Ho” are no longer obscene words and that they are appropriate to use on television at 3 pm? Who decided that a couple kissing on the couch, regardless to the age, then suddenly going upstairs to the bedroom to imply that a sexual act is about to take place, is appropriate for children to see? Who decided that discussing orgasms on television at 3 pm is appropriate for children?
Many people fault music videos and music itself for the corrupt minds of children. They believe that the women bending over and dancing on BET is the reason for the lack of respect that little girls have for themselves. They believe that the massive amount of songs about sex, is the reason so many little girls are having sex.
Like those people, I too believe music videos and music play a role in corrupting the minds of youth, but I refuse to blame them for everything. Maybe teenage pregnancy is at an all time high because Tyra Banks discusses different sex positions with sex expert, Sue Johansen, on the Tyra Banks Show, which airs at 2 pm, or maybe it’s because 15-year-old Bryanna discusses when she plans to have sex with her 15-year-old boyfriend, Arnez, on One on One, which airs at 4 pm, no, wait, maybe little girls refer to each other as “Bitches” because Joan calls Toni a “Bitch” on almost every episode on Girlfriends, which airs at 5:30 pm.
Did networks send out a memo to parents that said, “If you cannot afford Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network, you are allowing your children to watch television at your own risk because we are not responsible for what your children hear and see?” If they did, although I am not a parent, I missed it.