Monday, March 26, 2012

Values, Virtues and Looney Tunes

Like millions of people Mrs. Blackwell and I watched the newest episode of Mad Men last night. "Watched" might not be the right word. Consumed, dissected, deconstructed and critiqued might be more accurate.  

Were this a TV blog I'd jump right in and talk about how Megan's character needs to go away, Don needs to return to his old ways and stop  being so nice and Roger is in need of a new account or something, anything, to keep Pete at bay. But, alas, this is not a TV blog. 

No ma'am or sir. I know my place on the Internet and my place is pregnancy and babies, right where any red-blooded man should be dammit.
"Morality? Sure. We've heard of it."

As Mrs. Blackwell and I watched the show, my thoughts drifted toward how our viewing habits will soon change. Kids, after all, don't need to see Don Draper kissing three different women in the space of five minutes.

This Wednesday will be week 33 of Mrs. Blackwell's pregnancy. So, as part of the comprehensive upheaval of baby's arrival, I understand that episodes of Mad Men will soon be giving way to whatever babies, toddlers and kids are watching these days.

My familiarity with kids shows tails off somewhere between Sesame Street and the Polka Dot Door.

I was aware of the Barney phenomena and, thanks to my nieces and my nephew I know Dora the Explorer. But, I'm pretty sure Dora is passe and Barney, like any good dinosaur, is now extinct.

So what's big these days? Initial Internet research proved inconclusive. There was no list of any repute to refer.

However, as I searched I repeatedly came across reports on a UCLA study which found that newer kids programming wasn't emphasizing the best values. 

Fame, it would seem, is at the top of the list of "important values."

According to the report: "On a list of 16 values, fame jumped from the 15th spot, where it was in both 1987 and 1997 to the first spot in 2007." From1997 to 2007 benevolence (being kind and helpful to others) dropped from second to 13th place, while tradition dropped from fourth to 15th.

Hannah Montana, it would seem, is a charlatan. 

I thought about the UCLA study and I considered the consequences. How deeply ingrained are the values taught by television and movies? 

I watched a lot of movies as a kid. A lot. But my image of marriage was defined by watching my mom and dad, not "Fatal Attraction." The summer I spent watching "Coming to America" everyday didn't make me crave the material wealth of a prince. It did however provide me with an inexhaustible  well of funny movie quotes. ("You see, they're McDonald's...I'm McDowells. They got the Golden Arches, mine's the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick.")

The virtue of being organized as illustrated by Wile E. Coyote.
I understand you've got to be careful about what kids watch. I was 11 when I was at a friend's place and his older brother had rented "Nightmare on Elm Street II." Now, firmly in my 30s, Freddy Kruger still makes appearances in my nightmares.

At some point, our little guy will undoubtedly watch stuff we'd prefer he didn't watch but, it's up to Mrs. Blackwell and I to make the big impressions and make negative  TV impressions positives when we can.

I enjoy watching Looney Tunes and intend to continue enjoying them. So, if I come home from work one day and my little guy is wearing roller skates with a large Acme rocket strapped to his back, I'll extinguish the wick, commend him for his ingenuity and then we'll have a talk about how we safely handle and use explosives around our house. 

1 comment:

Deb Whitlatch said...

Ummmm...feel good about all PBS daytime programming for kids....many produced with adult sitters in mind--as per the fave o' mine, that Sesame Street nugget of a music send-off, "Letter B," by that perennial fab four, the Beetles (four beetle look-alike muppets). Send in your annual support today! :-)