Tag TV

It’s just harmless entertainment, oh really?

Television - Entertainmentby Javaria Atiya Waheed

Youth culture-Strictly speaking, youth cultures are explained either by factors in the experience of adolescence, or by the manipulation of young people’s spending and leisure, through advertising and other mass media. This is what the dictionary says about what youth culture is. Until some years back people may have agreed consensually that nothing like a youth culture exists, and even if it does it is not rampant. But today, look around you. Entertainment, whether its television shows, movies, music or animation, is creating a youth culture. A culture which is having an immoral effect on teens. A culture which is can certainly not be defined as acceptable in most cases.

The March 2009 issue of the New York Times gave an unsettling account of a prep school student who was allegedly terrorized by a group of girls in a secret society. While most might call it just an intransigent high school action, journalists and parents have not failed to notice the striking resemblance it has to Gossip Girl’s hierarchy and the role of a “Queen Bee”. Serving as a window into Gossip Girl, the young girl’s account stated: The way they terrorized me seemed like a secret ritual…” This account makes us think: Are these flicks still fictional or are “Blair Waldorfs” descending into our lives too?

Yet, it is just not Gossip Girl. Majority of the television shows are proving to be a very evil influence on teenagers nowadays. According to a website, “Parents Television Council”, percentage of teenage students being rampant about subjects such as sex and pregnancy run as high as 70% because of the teen flicks, 65% of parents say that shows like The Simpsons and Married… With Children encourage kids to disrespect parents and then shows like Desperate Housewives and How I met your Mother, have been rated as shows not to be viewed by children under 18 because of “gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content, and obscene language”. Shows like “American Dad”, “The O.C” and“Smallville” have been rendered completely unsuitable for teens under 18 and children alike, but still they never stop sneaking. Teenage minds are getting corrupted by these shows everyday and academic performances are declining rapidly. In short, this Youth Culture is having an influence, an influence more appalling than expected.

However, it is shows are not the only source which is corrupting teenagers. Music, considered as a dose of oxygen by many, is also not as good as it seems to be. As Dr. Frank Palumbo from the American Academy of Pediatrics said: “Make no mistake about it; music can summon a range of emotions, most of which are wonderful. Yet there is some music that communicates potentially harmful health messages, especially when it reaches a vulnerable audience”. Heavy metal music is considered to be one of the most popular amongst teens in today’s world and most people see it as harmless. But careful analysis shows that heavy metal music affects the way teens think. It can imply violence towards others and is a partial cause for teenage killing and suicide as it affects your brain nerves. Numbing and influencing, heavy metal music has been a major cause of teenage suicides and violence. Rap, another form of music, which is gaining popularity amongst teenagers, has been declared a “bad influence” without any doubt. Where artists like Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and Daddy Yankee are basing their livings on it, rap is seen as having a “strong” influence on children and teens. Eighty percent of the rap music that is currently on the top ten lists around the world contains violence. They glorify the acts of beating up another person, or even worse shooting them. They make it look like someone released from prison unlawfully is a good thing. Rap music also glorifies drinking, and sex. Two things which happen to be a major problem among many teenagers today. Looking at all these statistics and facts, can music be termed as having a “harmless” effect on today’s generation? I don’t think so.

Teen - FamilyAnimation, another form of entertainment, has always been considered suitable for children. But today even animation is crossing all limits and boundaries. As parents still see animation and cartoons as “safe”, they fail to see the derogatory effect some of the recent ones are having. A very apt example would be “Southpark”. An American animated sitcom. Intended for mature audiences, the show has become infamous for its crude, surreal, satirical, and dark humor that lampoons a wide range of topics. The show’s frequent depiction of taboo subject matter, general toilet humor, accessibility to children viewers, disregard of decency standards, and portrayal of religion for comic effect have been the main sources for generating controversy and debate over the course of its run. As the series first became popular, several schools barred its students from wearing South Park-related T-shirts, while several parent councils in the United Kingdom expressed concern when eight and nine-year-old children voted the South Park character Cartman as their favorite personality in a 1999 poll. Moreover, “Southpark” is just not the only one. Japanese animation has recently gained immense popularity amongst children all around the world, but the swearing and blatant use of language has not gone unnoticed. Japanese animation has been rated for “mature audiences only”, but since they are “cartoons” that seems to have no effect.

The main link between the entertainment world and its audience, the celebrities, are proving to have a very corrupting influence on teenagers and many researchers have linked exposure to celebrities and entertainment, to massive child and teen health problems. Teenagers today look up to celebrities for their everyday fashion tips, movies or albums and even their bodies. But what happens when you take looking up to someone to a whole different level. And sometimes very tragic things can happen. When teenagers turn on their televisions and see Lindsay Lohan or Nicole Richie in photos looking frail with all their bones sticking out, that sends out a powerful message. Moreover, seeing their favorite celebrity getting high on Television makes it “cool” for teenagers to try it too. Also, researchers at Dartmouth Medical School have found that movie characters who smoke cigarettes—regardless of whether they are heroes or villains—influence teens to try smoking. All the surge in eating disorders, smoking and drugs is clearly an outshoot of these celebrity and media influences.

This “Youth Culture”, this entertainment comprises of all these aspects. Whether its shows, movies, music, animation or celebrities; all of them are corrupting individuals to an unimaginable extent. Looking at all these statistics, 16 is looking like the new 30, where sex is easy, opulence is there at hand, female bonding is punctuated by the joy and disappointments of dating and looking “thin” and high schools are no longer restricted to just education! Parents are seen “fretting” that children are growing up too fast; children complain that it is time for parents to grow up. And to add to all of this not much is being done about it. But then again: Who is to blame? Complaints are being sent to channels like CW practically every day, but they seem to be falling on deaf ears. And we can’t hold them responsible too; they can’t simply shut everything down. Entertainment should not be banned, not at all. But putting checks on it won’t be bad after all. Especially now when one thing is evident: Entertainment in the 21st century is not so harmless after all.


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