Television Corrupts Us, or Vice Versa?

Brooke Woodward

When we turn on our televisions nowadays we get 700 channels of “news” and “entertainment.” However, we are really subjecting ourselves to 700 different ways to waste our time and corrupt our minds.

Television began as a genuine entertainment outlet for the good of society. Families would settle down in their living rooms with their “T.V. dinners” to enjoy the Dick Van Dyke Show or Bewitched. However, as the use of television expanded, cable network took the stage and began prioritizing profit over quality and ethics in order to satisfy popular demand.

As a result, “family television” is a thing of the past. Flavor of Love, The Real World, and I Love New York have replaced The Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver. Even programs such as Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, which were once wholesome and child-oriented, have been infested by television series about misbehaving kids who have little or no concept of reality or morals. These shows infiltrate the minds of today’s youth and disrupt the fragile foundations of their morality.

As television spiraled downwards, so did society. Or was it the reverse? Most likely the two went hand and hand. The Jerry Springer Show started in 1991 as a program to advise people on how to deal with their problems, but as approval ratings increased in sync with the level of violence, controversy, and flamboyancy on the show, their priorities took a sharp turn. Today, the show is promoting its new “Uncensored: Naughty Naked World Tour.”

Instead of catering television towards families and striving for worth, networks are seeking the “shock factor” in order to capture people’s attention and boost their own profits. Shows have to hook viewers with a 15 second glimpse of “next week’s show” or the “season finale” and often insert scandalous clips in order to catch their audience’s attention. Shamefully, these previews work because this is exactly the kind of television that many people want to watch.

Furthermore, between each show are equally unethical commercials. Advertising reflects the content of the television shows in order to appeal to the audience and accordingly advance profits. Luckily, modern technology allows many people to skip commercials altogether while using devices such as TiVo, Comcast On Demand, and DVR’s.

Society has become absorbed with the fantasies on television and people have begun to replicate this negativity in their own lives. For example, many teenage girls strive to reproduce the profligate lifestyles of Gossip Girl or they ignorantly mimic the vulgarity of South Park. The world’s growing obsession with superficiality and cupidity may be a direct result of the materialistic values that bombard us when we turn on our televisions.

The modern world’s fascination with television may be hard if not impossible to reverse. If we continue to fuel the television industry’s negativity by watching worthless shows, the deterioration of society’s values will persist. However, if people limit their viewing to quality programs such as The Discovery Channel or Gilmore Girls, useless shows’ approval ratings will decrease and stations will be forced to reconsider their priorities.

In today’s world, we endeavor to live in secure neighborhoods, yet we must keep children safe by locking channels on the television in addition to our front doors. Unless people acknowledge television’s negativity and refuse to promote it, society is destined for a future of increasing materialism, uniformity, obscenity, and immorality.