Thursday, March 02, 2006

Who's The Looney Tune Here?

So the Parents Television Council disapproves of commercial kids TV, huh?


Gee, that was predictable, wasn’t it? A bunch of “moral values” zealots with their laundry list of complaints that, really, is going to amount to nothing more than red meat for their followers to get angry about for a few minutes before they give up at the hands of some other distraction.

I know a thing or two about this, because I watch A LOT of cartoons at home with the young one (a lot of them make at least as much sense to me as prime-time network fare, and besides, if you can’t laugh at the sublime silliness of “Spongebob Squarepants,” then I think you SERIOUSLY have a problem).

I will actually agree with this study to a point, though, regarding Cartoon Network and their “Toonami” programs, including “Teen Titans.” However, by doing some basic monitoring of some of these shows with him, I believe I can get a pretty good idea of when the content (not just violence, but borderline swearing, references to bodily functions, and other objectionable stuff) goes too far. Besides, the “Toonami” programs are on at pretty consistent times, so you can pretty much guess that “Teen Titans,” for example (though other shows such as “Codename: Kids Next Door” are worse as far as I’m concerned, because they blur the line between silliness and violence) will be on every Saturday night at 8:00 EST, so it can be avoided if you wish to do so (and I don’t think it’s even THAT BAD of a show…it’s dark at times, but if a kid can watch a well-made but scary movie like “Revenge Of The Sith,” they can certainly watch that show – by the way, why don’t these moralists ever review movies anyway, not that I’d pay attention much to their comments on that either.)

However, I’d like to discuss something that this study doesn’t even consider, and that is what I would call the “brattiness” factor (i.e., smart-mouthed or narcissistic kids often trying to act like adults). I have AT LEAST as much of a problem with that as I do with violence or other content, because it is a lot easier for kids to imitate that kind of behavior. I have to admit that Nickelodeon is pretty good on that score, though “The Amanda Show” is easily the biggest offender in that category, but it’s supposed to be kids entertainment; other shows such as “Romeo” have kids doing things they shouldn’t some times, but they ALWAYS portray the consequences of their actions. Cartoon Network isn’t even that bad on that score either, nor is ABC Family.

One of the worst offenders under this category, though, is Disney. I don’t know who writes, produces, or otherwise creates most of their programming (not talking about anything related to their movies, most of which are wonderful), but they must be people without kids, or else they’d realize immediately what it is that they’re doing wrong, such as an adaptation of the kids story "The Rainbow Fish" that almost made me put my fist through the T.V.

And here’s another thing (good and steamed now…I know); Fox Television has kids programming also, distributed to their affiliate networks, as mentioned in the study. Fox is EASILY THE WORST OFFENDER ON THIS LIST when it comes to violence and bratty kid behavior portrayed on TV, as well as putting the kids in adult conflict situations where they don’t belong. To me, they treat the kids as little adults, which I guess is logical in a way since their adult programming is, in many ways, little more than a grownup version of the same thing (a dramatization of R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" that I saw once was particularly odious).

Though I certainly don’t approve of the putdown language the group mentions, it’s kind of a “chicken and the egg” argument between television and the fact that kids, frequently as a necessity, end up in day care at an age way before that which I entered school, for example (in “the stone age,” I’ll admit) and are thus exposed to these negative behaviors earlier. To restate this, how much of the TV and media content is a reflection of the behavior and attitudes the kids would have already even if no media existed?

This survey did not look at PBS apparently, which is a good thing, because, as far as I’m concerned, you will NEVER find a bad PBS kids program. And if Bozell and his fellow Philistines REALLY care about the quality of kids TV, they can make sure the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is PROPERLY FUNDED to continue developing programming that appeals to ALL AUDIENCES, PARTICULARLY KIDS, and also STOP THIS IDIOTIC DEMONIZING OF PEOPLE YOU DON’T LIKE ON PBS AND GIVE KIDS CREDIT FOR BEING SMART ENOUGH TO CHOOSE WHAT PROGRAMS THEY LIKE ON THAT NETWORK!

And for the record, I think the seven-second tape delay for the Super Bowl is an absolutely ridiculous idea, and I will always believe that the exposure of Janet Jackson’s 40-year-old, diamond-studded, African American boob was deliberate to get the “moral values” crowd good and steamed to kick off a presidential election year.

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