Thursday, February 9, 2017

Another Look at Television

The late broadcaster Bill McCarter had a knack for spotting emerging talent.  In the early 1970s McCarter called me to identify one such named Brent Musburger, who was relatively unknown outside of Chicago and a few points west.

The other night I watched Musburger, nowadays very well known, calling his last basketball game. As usual he was a comfortable pal to be around, near or far. Brent loves sports, and because he usually knows what he's talking about, he enriched whatever game we were watching. There are some very positive things about TV. Brent Musburger was one of them.

Still the negatives about television are staggering.  Violence on the tube is overwhelming. Take another look yourself at the near-endless killings, explosions and mayhem that abounds. What can this possibly be worse for our minds, young minds especially? Some programs that purport to be “discussions” of issues are just more of the same.  Did you ever take a peek at the garbage that Maury Povich, Jerry Springer and their ilk serve up day by day?  Add to the mix Hollywood movies dominated by car chases, computer generated destruction, explicit sex, vulgarity beyond vulgarity. To the damage that television mayhem does to our own most precious resource, our children, add the fact that our product is exported all around the world. No wonder the image of our culture is so dismal overseas. You don't have to torture yourself, but please be aware of the extent of the damage being done.

Television is the primary influence in our time. TV, all by itself, is responsible for social change, more than all the legislation ever written.  You really can't change minds by writing laws. People will do what they want to do, one way or the other. Case in point are the advertising commercials depicting the races. It started with white men and women being socially linked with those of other races – usually a Hispanic, Hawaiian or other lighter skinned individuals, then as couples, then as parts of a mixed family. Gradually, and in a relatively short span of time, black and whites jointly filled roles previously restricted to the members of the same race.  So too with same sex couples. You are certainly entitled to your own opinion on whether this is good or bad, but the fact is changes in society have been caused by television. Again, the point is to be aware of this powerful impact.   

With our country being in such turmoil, real news versus fake news and countless opinions bombarding us day and night, each of us has to take personal responsibility for sorting it all out. Our own ethical compass and common sense are just about all we have. Not an easy task, for sure.  But we can't farm it out to any others, can we?     

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