Thursday, October 20, 2005

Parents Television Council Releases TV Best and Worst List

The Parents Television Council, the modern equivalent of Tipper Gore's PMRC, has released their list of Best and Worst Television shows. The list is based on assumptions similar to that of former Hearst columnist Louella Parsons and Tipper Gore. Parsons has been quoted as saying: "The child's little mind is like a beautiful rosebud; if you force it open with unnatural things you will have a warped rose." (Thanks to Cathy Seipp for the quote). Naturally, according to the PTC, modern television is filled with many unnatural things. As for Tipper, well in her natural "I know better than you way" she said in her book, "It's not easy being a parent these days. It's even tougher being a kid. Perhaps together we can help our society grow up." Isn't that nice.

You probably have guessed by now that I don't much like these "what's wrong with the world today" lists. It isn't because I like the thought of 8 year-olds jackin' cars and smackin' hoes while playing GTA: San Andreas. My ire is raised because the advocates of these kinds of lists seem to be under the impression that we once lived in some Golden Age where young minds were pure and uncorrupted by sex, violence and drugs. It is true that in 1650 young people didn't read these kinds of stories, instead they lived them. I imagine the life of a child in Magdeburg in 1630 where he gets to see his father burned alive and his mother raped by imperial troops -- all of which happens before some pederast rapes and murders him or her -- and I start thinking about how nice it is that we can spend so many resources "protecting" our children from graphic images in modern society, and it is nice. I am grateful that we live in a world so peaceful and stable, at least here in the West, that we can worry about imagined explicit acts and how much they cause real immoral acts to occur. But I also know that much of the social science research in this area is deeply flawed by preconceived notions as to whether seeing violence causes violence, even if the witnessed violence is virtual. Before I dig myself too deep, let me just say this. I believe it is the duty of every parent to actively engage in their children's upbringing and to monitor their activities. It is also central that parents communicate and transmit virtuous character to their children. I don't like preachy people who come off as holier than thou telling me what is good and what isn't.

So without further ado, their list and my thoughts.

Best Shows, according to PTC:

1) Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Okay, I have to admit that this is pretty positive programming and I watch it when I loose faith in humanity, but I cry everytime I watch this show. It is so overwhelmingly manipulative of my emotions, so I don't watch it regularly.

2) Three Wishes. Nope, I don't watch EM:HE the NBC version because it is even more gratuitous in its manipulation of my emotions.

3) American Idol. Right, these are positive role models for children...Baby Mama anyone?

4) The Ghost Whisperer. Haven't seen it, have no interest. Seems like a schmaltzy combination of Sixth Sense and Necroscope, but no make me jump moments.

5) Everybody Hates Chris. Haven't seen it, have it on TiVo because everyone seems to like it. But seriously, the PTC recommending Chris Rock?

6) Reba. Don't watch it, can't say anything pithy.

7) Bernie Mac. Like it, don't watch it much.

8) Dancing with the Stars. Now we know who watched that show.

9) 7th Heaven. Huge guilty pleasure for me.

10) None. Are you kidding me?! What about Rock Star INX (it was no more/less immoral than American Idol)? How about Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy? Nope...nothing else kids can watch.

Worst Shows according to PTC:

1) The War at Home. This show bored the heck out of me, it was so forced that I was forced to change the channel. Okay, I think it's bad too, but that's just because I find it dull.

2) The Family Guy. Just like I don't like "preachyness," I hate forced sophistication and "edgyness." When a show is naturally edgy, or does it real well like South Park, I like it. Family Guy? Click. I think I'll watch the Simpsons.

3) American Dad. this a show? See comments re: Family Guy.

4) The O.C. I love this show and am certain that, just like Laura Ingraham, the PTC doesn't actually watch this show. Sure they describe the events from the episode descriptions, but do they actually watch the show. Sandy Cohen is one of the all time great fathers in television history. Sure there are drugs, sex, and scandal. But this is a show about how a family who loves one another deals with the problems around them. Your wife or mother is an alchoholic? Have an intervention and get her help! Yup...that's bad advice. Ryan drops out of school and doesn't want to apply for college? Talk to him about his problems, work through them and get him on track. Yup...that's bad advice. Tell woman, your first love in fact, who wants you to cheat on your wife with her no? Ooooh how shocking. As I said, I don't think they actually watch the show.

5) C.S.I. So criminal procedurals are a no go, but Ghost Whisperer is okay? Okaaaay. I understand the subject matter is a little "raw," but criminals are caught and punished and treated like scum. Isn't that what we want young people to learn?

6) Desperate Housewives. Don't watch it, but looks entertaining. Question to those of you who do. Do the characters who behave immorally not get punished or something?

7) Two and a Half Men. Obviously the PTC is confusing Charlie Sheen's private life with that of his character. Have you ever noticed the Charlie character, you know the playa, is often made the fool. Sure he doesn't learn from his past, but the anti-Charlie website episode was hilarious.

8) That 70's Show. Most of my comments about the O.C. apply here. Red rules. The PTC must be smoking dope.

9) Arrested Development. Too "edgy" for me.

10) Cold Case. Can't watch those procedurals. Is it because murderers are caught?

Maybe tommorrow, I will post the shows that I like. I won't post about the shows I don't like because I don't watch them.

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