Protecting kids from unsavory influences on television
We’ve been warning against the negative effects of some local TV “comedy” shows for or about children for years now, so it’s with relief and a sense of belated affirmation that we note that other concerned viewers and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) are echoing our sentiments and calling for a comprehensive discussion of the potentially controversial issue.
When we first wrote about the subject, we received hostile comments from kiddie-show producers, who insisted that everything was being done in the spirit of fun, so there was absolutely nothing wrong about their penchant for making child performers play married couples and sweethearts, or for boys to portray flamingly gay characters, among many other disturbing infractions.
In addition, they charged that our “sour-graping” critiques betrayed a mean-spirited bent, a neurotic propensity for making a nasty mountain out of an innocently playful molehill—as well as a monumental lack of wit and humor—!
They also stressed the “fact” that, while their shows employed child performers, they were doing comedy that was designed to appeal to viewers of all ages, so the restrictions that we felt should be placed on the erring shows’ content and treatment were not relevant—so, could we please just cool it and let the viewers have their fun and games?
Well, it now looks like there is more to the matter than just our “misplaced” concern. Aside from the causes for concern that we’ve already written about, other viewers here cited instances of skits and jokes that are too “adult” for kids to portray, as well as “off-color” remarks and “humor” that isn’t very funny at all, because it could be offensive to religious institutions, or is racist or sexist in orientation.
To make things worse, the fact that it’s impressionable child talents who are acting in those skits and cracking those “jokes” makes them doubly worrisome, because the young talents are exposed to possibly unsavory or cynical points of view, instead of being protected from them, as all vulnerable children should be.
True enough, some of the young “graduates” of comedy shows on TV become precociously jaded or cynical teen performers. We hope that the reforms that will result from the MTRCB’s conference on the subject of erring kiddie “comedy” shows will spare younger talents from this negative denouement.
How can other concerned parents and educators help? By monitoring “comedy” shows to see if they respect young viewers’ right to positive and developmentally healthy inputs from the televised “entertainment” they’re exposed to.
Most kids are too weak and unformed to protect themselves from unsavory mass-media influences, so it’s their elders who are obliged to defend them, so they can grow up into well-rounded and psychologically sound adults.