At best, hot shows reflect questionable values; what's the attraction?

Surviving newest TV rages

Posted: Sunday, February 04, 2001

What is the purpose of these new television shows that keep popping up?

"Temptation Island," "Survivor II" -- I just don't understand them. Maybe you can explain their attraction. From where I sit, the whole idea of these shows is to be as shady, shifty, untrustworthy and unfaithful as you can manage.

Take "Temptation Island," for example. The whole goal is to see if the show can break up unmarried couples by dividing them into separate groups and surrounding those groups with something like 16 members of the opposite sex. Does that make sense to you?

I recently found out I am to be a father, pretty exciting news for me, my wife and our families and friends, but not so exciting if I plan on raising my children on the morals that these TV shows try to pass on as everyday occurrences.

Sure, now and again, I wouldn't have minded if I had the ability to vote someone out of my life, but I didn't and I had to deal with it another way. Those situations teach you patience and the ability to negotiate around and over tough roads in our lives.

Would I ever think about being unfaithful to my wife, Christie? I can't imagine it. I have the most beautiful and the smartest woman in the world at my side with my wedding ring on her finger.

Of course no one is invincible against all forms of temptation -- be it a gorgeous member of the opposite sex or the magnetic powers of a deep pocketbook. I'm not afraid to admit I have been in situations where I have been tempted -- my 330-pound frame is attracted to all-you-can eat buffet bars all the time.

And how about "Survivor"? Should I teach my children that it's OK to never trust their friends? To be as separated from the real world as they can get?

Why would you even want to do something like that? Oh wait -- it's all about the $1 million, isn't it?

That's something else I hope I can avoid teaching my kids, that money is everything. I can testify that I don't make a luxurious salary. I don't ever expect to be rich, but I don't remember that ever being my goal in life either. Would I spend the money? Yes, but I sincerely doubt that I would feast on slugs and snails to get it.

Some people can say that because I watch football and other sports and R-rated movies that I am, in the long run, teaching my kids that violence is OK. I've watched plenty of R-rated movies, and I have yet to develop violent tendencies toward anyone or anything. I also played football straight up to the semi-professional level, and I do not have any extra need to crush or damage things from that either.

No doubt, there are children out there who will not be affected by the mediocre content some TV programs offer, but I am not as concerned about a single child as I am about entire generations of children.

Society's morals are always changing. The values portrayed in the TV shows my parents watched while they were growing up compared with the values reflected in today's TV shows are a good example of such changes.

"I Dream of Jeannie" wasn't even allowed to show a belly button. Now, shows like "Boston Public" have high school cheerleaders doing a more than suggestive dance for a competition.

How about how we view our "celebrities"? It used to be that everyone wanted to be the "Lone Ranger" or one of the "Dukes of Hazzard" stars. Today 9-year-old girls imitate Britney Spears step by step and word for word. Young kids looking for a sports role model now have athletes like Randy Moss to look up to as he sprays water on a referee from the sidelines. All of this comes from what we deem acceptable to be shown on television during the hours that a lot of kids, along with their parents, watch TV.

I'm not saying all television is bad; I happen to enjoy watching it after a hard day's work. I am concerned about what we consider good and acceptable content.

I know there is a lot out there that is out of our control. We can't stop people from saying disrespectful things about the president of the United States of America on television, and we can't stop garbage programs from being aired.

We can do one thing though: We can stop our children from watching them. We can steer them to more acceptable things to do -- just as I plan to do when the time comes.

Don't get me wrong. I'm going to let my children watch television just like I watch it. Just remember, there is nothing wrong with reading either. In fact, I can suggest a pretty good newspaper I read daily.

Sam Eggleston is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.



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