Is television harmful or useful? My answer, long story short, is yes and no. Some shows almost promote violence. Some shows chalk up violence to funny. I’m looking at you, Family Guy and South Park. Other shows like The Simpsons, while funny, focus on very real topics and tackle them in a semi-serious, semi-comedic way.
But those are just fun cartoons, right? Not entirely. Look at the Simpsons. As I stated, they tackle serious issues and do not take the “funny” was out. Yes, Simpsons is a comedy, but it can also get very dramatic. It also gets you to think. A prime example of this is just the overall feel of the Simpson family. While it is lighthearted, the premise of the show is a loving, albeit somewhat dysfunctional family.
Other shows are just so unique, they only come along once in a lifetime. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a great example of this. Fred Rogers had the God-given ability to speak to both kids and adults simultaneously. It is probably the most influential show I have ever seen. Even as a 29 year old, I enjoy watching Fred Rogers on YouTube reruns.
I mentioned South Park earlier. While I love that show, I do think it is almost brainwashing Americans. That and Family Guy almost stereotype other cultures. Yes, they have quotes that are used in everyday life, like “Giggity!” and “Oh my God! They killed Kenny! You bastards!” but they make light of violence. Nothing is sacred with these shows. Even stuff nearly every other American would never think of joking about, they shove down the American viewers’ throats. 9/11 and Muslims are especially overly hyped. Homosexuality is another example. Taboo as it is, as I said, Family Guy and South Park make light of these things all the time.
It’s almost like they do it for shock value and nothing else. A lot of cartoons from my childhood and earlier, while funny, are done at the expense of others. I think that comes with the times they were made. Take Bugs Bunny for example. A harmless, “Scwewy wabbit”, right? Well…not quite. During World War 2, the Japanese were drawn very stereotypically. Slitty eyes, over exaggerated accents, and buck teeth would never fly today! Again, these were propaganda cartoons made in the 1930s and ‘40s, so it was acceptable back then. Now, however? Highly offensive.
So I think I am split on whether television is a “good” outlet for Americans or detrimental. I think some have the right idea and have executed it very well…like Mister Rogers. However, I think others are just after ratings like South Park and Family Guy. What do you think? Do TV shows have the right idea or is it getting progressively worse?
Thanks for reading!