Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Parent Accountability: Media Damage Control

For those of you who don't know... I'm not a big TV person. The constant flow of sounds and images saturated with stereotypes and bigotry labeled as entertainment, lies labeled as news, and ripoffs labeled as ONE TIME ONLY deals became too much for me to take, especially as I increasingly become more and more aware of social justice issues. Yet I still found myself sucked into the smut known as VH1 reality television... and the effect it had on me was actually quite interesting...


(Where it all began... Check out New York before she was... famous??)

I didn't find myself angry or offended as I had in the past watching what my great grandmother would have called "the telly". (Of course that didn't stop the occasional feeling of disgust and secret shame of enjoying these shows in the first place.) But instead I found myself appreciating the shows for what they were, SHOWS! For very valid reasons, shows like Flav's and Ray J's have been the subject of much criticism, especially regarding their representation of women. The most compelling argument amongst these criticisms were that they promote unrealistic images of love, black women, and relationships...... EXACTLY!

I can always remember growing up and my Granny (who is a top notch Bad Bitch by the way) telling me, even after news broadcasts, "you can't believe everything you see on TV." And that was something that always stuck with me. So since childhood, I've always understood that television is the dwelling place of illusions and facades. Unfortunately, it seems today many parents have (in both abstract and direct ways) given television the responsibility of raising their children. The negative effects media has on children has been the central focus of many debates and conversations. But I must ask, to what extent should parents be accountable for exactly how their kids internalize what they watch, play, and listen to?

In 2 seconds, with one sentence my Granny stopped me from being traumatized by a box that consistently told me I wasn't shit if I didn't have product X or looked like the bitch in Lil Suchnsuch video. If more parents took the time to explain REAL LIFE to their kids I am almost positive that some of those negative effects would decrease and young women would be able to discover the bad bitch in themselves much sooner! I understand that there many parents who do not have th resources, time, or knowledge to impart this kind of knowledge on their children... But you don't have to had made a baby to be a parent.

This "realistic" perception of television also sparked my slight interest in advertising. One of my new favorite hobbies watching commercials and breaking it apart, exposing all of the different tactics used to sell the products (i.e. If you are a good mother, buy Clorox Bleach. As opposed to: this shit works so buy it.) Being the bad bitch I am, I couldn't actively participate in making assumptions about groups of people to sell them shit. But I know there is hope. Groups like Students of Color in Advertising here at U of I seek LEGIT and efficient ways to market and pub for various venues.

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