October 20, 2004


In the current modernity of America, culture is no longer the creation of the traditions and legacies of our family and communities. Today, culture is beamed and transmitted via satellite from studios in Hollywood that seeks to profit under our capitalistic system. Television, as well as the motion picture industry and soon the internet are all working to together to capture and shape the thoughts, beliefs, behavior and attitudes of America, the young and impressionable being the most vulnerable. The reason being is that socialization and acculturation is simply the product of emulation...with whats being emulated coming more and more from the big and small screen.

The benefit and the curse of television is that it exposes people to a wide variety of phenomenon, situations and events that people are not exposed to in their own real environments. Thus, they have little means of reconciling fact from fiction from the template that their environment sets. Consequently, reality can become easily distorted in degree and or kind….with people consciously or subconsciously accepting it as reality. If one simply looked at the Evening News, their perceptions of black males would simply be that of criminals and athletes, which is definately a display out of proportion with black male reality.

The failure of the medium to be able to show you the whole picture, which is impossibility, leads to a distortion of scope and proportion. When a TV show about “Desperate housewives” or “wife swoping “is advertised or seen, its sets subliminal attitudes that erodes the institution of marriage. Once something appears on TV, it is glorified simply from the fame and attention of being transmitted to millions of households. Once it becomes glorified, it becomes popularized and becomes larger than life and more acceptable to emulate. Thus, programming that reflects dysfunctional families or programming that lacks socially redeeming merits works make such behavior more acceptable which leads to more people behaving this way than would have otherwise. One can say that it simply art immitating life, which is true to a degree. The problem is that Art distorts scope thus making a reality larger than life than it really is...which normalizes the behavior and makes it more wide spread.

TV is simply a destructive and corruptive influence on the mind and unfortunately, black people spend more hours a day in front of the TV than any other racial group, studies have shown. Far too many black families feel that Cable TV is a necessity and not a luxury. We thus have 500 channels to shape and corrupt our culture and self image, as well as, stagnating our mental growth. Tangentially, all the videogames that we play through the Cathode Ray Tube of TV’s are only fanning the flames cultural erosion. We spend far too much time in pursuit of electronic fantasy, escape or entertainment…and it is hurting us.

This is what some folks would say is the absence of personal responsibility on black folks part and something that cannot be blamed on white racism. However, I disagree in part. The reason being is that until the inequities that resulted from past racial oppression are removed…the effects of social negativity from the dominate culture will have a disproportional racial impact. Any actions by this society that disproportionably impacts the poor is also in effect racist, because blacks are disproportionably poor as the consequence of years of racial oppression. Thus, the impact of TV upon the poor magnifies upon black people because so many of our people are poor.

If I am trying to recover from pneumonia and I am in a rather warm room with other more healthy individuals, opening up the window will have a worse effect upon me than the healthy. Or if there is a virus being spread and my immune system is still in recovery from past sickness, the virus will have a greater success upon me than others simply because of my condition. Black people in America are still in recovery and thus we are less immune to the spread of social viruses that come through the electronic media. Whites are less affected by it and thus feel no need to control the medium, thus restricting profits and pleasures for white media and the consuming white masses.

It is not a plan or conspiracy to destroy black people via television, unlike that of the proliferation of drugs and guns into the black community. It is simply the nature and consequence of capitalism manifesting in the entertainment industry. There are more profits to be made by pushing the moral envelope and by being controversial than not. Once the moral envelope is pushed out, it then becomes acceptable and the new benchmark to supersede in regards to the next pushing out of the envelope. After a period of year and gradual pushes, the moral erosion is not that detectable from year to year. However, when one compare decades, the moral erosion becomes so egregious that it makes the change in attitudes and behavior of the new generation perfectly clear. However, this is the fundamental means to winning the rating competition and market share in the capitalist entertainment medium.


At 10:12 AM, Blogger Faheem said...

The power of television to corrupt and influence our children is very real. I experience this weekly, monthly and yearly. I have a six year old son and he has learned things from television that was not taught to him by me or his mother. He recently lost his first tooth and began to speak about putting it under his pillow and receiving money. One thing I do not do is indulge in western children tales and lies. In my house there is no tooth fairy, no Easter bunny, no Santa clause or any of the other various lies told to children. My son is not allowed to vegge out in front the TV but even in the short time he does watch TV the lessons learned and the constant advertisement he is bombarded with has an impact on his behavior and learning.

At 11:45 AM, Blogger Noah TA said...

That’s absolutely correct. There are some black people who think that black leaders have the ability to steer and shape the black culture. They want these leaders to stop talking about racism and to start working to change black culture and behavior. We all know that this is simply a smoke screen to give white privilege a free ride. That having been said, it is a fallacy to think that black culture is under the control of blacks. Rather, it is under the control of the dominant white culture and it electronic spreading of culture.

It takes ISOLATION, geographically and informatively in order to socially engineer a culture. That is hard to do while being surrounded by the dominant culture here in America. Even if we ban our children from watching TV, they have friends who watch it and will influence them. Parenting is facing more and more obstacles that challenge the institution for influence and control.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You fellows are absolutely correct that there is tons of JUNK on TV that is harmful to kids - or adults, for that matter, too! Almost everyone who is mobile would be far better placed turning OFF the tube and working, playing, reading, socializing - anything other than mesmerizing themselves with TV pablum.

While there are a few good panel shows and the like on BET, I am otherwise horrified by the videos. To me, it isn't even that they are sexual (which virtually all of them are) - but the WAY in which they portray sex and men and women. It seems as if women are good for ONE thing, and one thing only: sex objects. These videos portray black men as interested in ONLY sex. Ugh. What does constant exposure to this do to the minds of kids??

Peg K


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