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A question about morality and media

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by burk48237, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    First, if the mods feel this should go the lounge I have no problem, but the question is far more about "general morality" than religion.

    One of the things I've noticed growing up is how morally ambiguous our mass media's choice of stories has become. I remember as a grade school kid watching Twelve O'clock High, Rat Patrol, Daniel Boone, Gunsmoke, the Rifleman, and Combat. All of those shows were about war or serious physical conflict. And while it is true the violence was less graphic (everything was less graphic) their was still a lot of it. And yet thru-out society we didn't seem to have near as many deranged acts of senseless violence.

    To me the difference was the nature of the stories themselves. Maybe I'm just longing for the "good old days", but there was rarely a doubt who the good guys and bad guys were on a network TV show back then. The Nazi's were bad guys, there were good and bad indians, if Daniel Boone had to shoot them, they were bad, the crooks in Dodge city were bad and Marshal Dillon dealt with them.

    Now we have shows like the Soprano's, the Shield, Scandal, etc. Where in many cases the "good guys" are more morally conflicted than the bad guys. While I realize life is more nuanced than all Nazi's are bad (well come to think of it maybe it isn't:D). Is this type of media having a negative effect on those who are a) still forming their moral compass because of their age or b) have a malformed moral compass due to mental issues.

    Just asking, while I suspect I know the answer, I'm in no way sure of it.
  2. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    I'm not sure I am comfortable with a suggestion that we should go back to a black and white view of things. The whole notion of there only being "good guys" and "bad guys" is a massive contributor to the divisiveness you see in the US and around the world. "You're either with us or against us.." One would like to think that people have matured beyond that kind of binary thinking.
  3. I think the OP raised a good question. Marlat, we may have matured past "we are good, they are bad", but I fear that we have arrived at "there's no such thing as good and bad or right and wrong". I don't think that's a healthy place to be. Whether our popular media (movies, TV etc) are a cause of that moral ambiguity or merely a reflection of it is an open question.
  4. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    I'm not sure if these programs contribute to violence in society I'm guessing on some level they do but I'm no expert on this. I do know that a lack of parental inolvement in the lives of children can contribute to this.
    One day my wife went to help at the school where our youngest foster child was going. He was in first grade. Two six-year-old boys got in a fist fight. Not the typical pushing that children that age do but these two were dukeing it out. When the teacher tried to break it up one of the boys hit here and told her to f**** off. The teacher advised my wife to take our two foster kids out of that school. She said she could almost never reach the parents of some of these kids and when she did they were not interested in their children. This was a very rough nieghborhood where there is a lot of crime and hard drugs.
    We did put our kid in a charter school where the parents are required to be involved. It was a huge improvement. I know it's just a small sample but it really spoke to me.
  5. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I realize the the real world in many cases is far more nuanced than the "black and white" view. However, what about those who haven't yet developed a moral compass? Those are the ones I'm concerned about the effects of this drive to make every story ambiguous. I suspect you can watch Reservoir Dogs or Savages, and don't leave the room with any desire to shoot things up.

    But what about an Adam Lanza or some lonely 13 year old kid whose social life consist of sitting on a couch and playing Grand Theft Auto? If that person truly grows up thinking that their is no right or wrong, only shades of wrong, and that human life has no value, doesn't that increase the odds they might express it?
  6. sloasdaylight

    sloasdaylight Inactive

    Feb 4, 2009
    Tampa, Florida, US
    This is the reason, not TV imo. Too many parents are not parenting their kids and not instilling any sort of morals or ethics into them.
  7. Relic

    Relic Cow are you?

    Sep 12, 2006
    Robbinsville, NJ
    This, yes. Absolutely. TV portrayals and such may count for a little bit but it's parenting and parental involvement and guidance that is what really counts.

    The whole "good guys/bad guys" mentality is a really weird thing. If one can convince themselves that they are "the good guy" then there's almost no limit to the bad stuff that they can do. I'm not sure if any diabolical murdering dictator or nutjob ever got far by convincing anyone that he's the "bad guy"... but that's kinda off topic I guess
  8. SwitchGear


    Mar 23, 2005
    Sunny Beach
    Television is loaded with graphic gun violence shown as entertainment. Same is true with the violent video games. A steady diet of this stuff has pushed mentally ill teenagers into committing acts of violence.

    It is ironic many of the same Hollywood actors making a living shooting people on TV are also ardent anti-gun nuts outside of film.
  9. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    I sometimes wonder if there was less worldwide violence in the "Leave it to Beaver" era or if there was just less media coverage of it due to technology challenges.

    This week the media is all over Beyonce's lip sync and won't let the Te'o phantom girlfriend story settle into oblivion after it's 15 min of fame has already been used up. Sometimes it's just unbelievable that the media plays up such stories when there are far more important national and world issues to consider. It's a slow news week for sure.
  10. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    It depends on how far down the hole you want to go. I think there are fairly clear distinctions between "right" and "wrong", but whether a particular act is "right" or "wrong" may depend on the circumstances. To use a trite example, killing someone may be right or wrong depending on the circumstances (cf. self defence with murder).

    I think the question of "right" versus "wrong" morally is a very different question to whether you can box people into categories of "good guys" and "bad guys". I think its overly simplistic to try and conflate the two. I would expect that society would raise children to understand the difference between right and wrong. The problem is when the line does get blurred. Is it right or wrong to torture someone for information? Does it depend on the circumstances? Is someone who does it a good guy or a bad guy? They are not easy issues but they are certainly not black and white. I don't think they are issues that a child should be forced to grapple with, but that is what parental supervision is about.
  11. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal

    Its not the TV programming, its poor parenting. If only there were a way for people not interested in raising kids to not get pregnant...

    Those sound like parenting issues to me. Dont let your kids play GTA all day. Be proactive in socializing your kids. Teach your kids that the things we see in movies and games are pretend and have consequences when carried out in the real world.

    If the all of the first world nations have access to the same violent entertainment then why is it that the US surpasses all when it comes to the number of violent acts commited? Sad to say, but it seems like many Americans are not as involved in their childs upbringing as they should be.
  12. Unprofessional


    Mar 5, 2012
    Others have noticed this juicy little bit of hypocrisy.
  13. Their parents should be largely controlling their media consumption.
  14. It's amazing what "righteousness" can excuse.
  15. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I'm going to take a slightly different tack here. Yes, involved parenting is more important than what's on TV. But involved parenting also means taking an interest in what the kids are watching, and setting boundaries for what is and isn't appropriate at what age.

    And what a lot of people seem to have trouble understanding is that, in an age of pervasive media, it's a LOT harder for a parent to practice that involvement and maintain healthy guidelines, especially when there's no non-working parent staying home with the kids (whether because it's a single parent or a two-job family).

    All of which is to say that, while I'm not in favor of censorship and I try hard not to be the Dad with long lists of shows and games my kids are forbidden to watch, I don't think you can just pass the buck and say the media should just produce whatever they can make a buck on and it's all on the parents' shoulders to screen out what's inappropriate. The supply-side needs to take some responsibility too.
  16. Ziltoid

    Ziltoid I don't play bass

    Apr 10, 2009
    A television is not a form of parenting. If parents do their job it should not be an issue. And I assume there's a strong correlation between questionable parents and kids who watch breaking bad at 8 years old.

  17. Yes - and it ALSO involves discussing the things they may see on media, especially the things of which you don't approve.

    If the kid is under 10-11 years old, and they're spending any significant time home alone without adult supervision - I'd say that in and of itself is poor parenting.

    They're corporations. They're amoral. Their responsibility, by law, is fiduciary.
  18. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    While I can't speak to what's on Nikolodian these days I can say that it's really hard to find anything in popular mass media these days where you can ask "what was the moral of the story". In other words what are the options for someone where their are black and white stories in the mass media for pre to young teen kids?

    It is my firm belief that young people need "Black and White" morality and boundaries before they begin to explore the world of situational ethics. And I'm not sure that todays media provides those choices. Without a firm background and boundaries, immaturity rules the day and you get Columbines.

    One of the things I find interesting is that these mass shootings rarely happen with ex-military even though they are taught how to shoot and in many cases thrust into extremely violent situations. They are also the ideal age and demographic for these kind of events (young, white, male) Perhaps it's because there is a lot of discipline and boundaries in Military training?
  19. slobake

    slobake resident ... something Supporting Member

    As a parent I just want to say how tough it can be sometimes. You are trying to pay bills, check homework, study for your job, play bass, fix the clogged toilet, try and understand your wife :p, and taking care of you widowed Aunt Hilda. You get the idea, sometimes that TV is so tempting, I have to admit there have been times when I used it as a baby sitter. Being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done. When you are pulling out your hair and have no idea how you are going to deal with some situation with your kids, you are now in the parent zone.
  20. Dale D Dilly

    Dale D Dilly Monster

    Jul 1, 2008
    Media has changed a lot since then. Back then, when just as many deranged acts and human tragedies took place, the media (along with law enforcement agencies and city councils, etc.) deliberately swept them under the rug instead of sensationalizing them. That's why it seems like things are getting worse today.

    If we have less of an apparent moral compass, it's not that we're actually more amoral today, it's that we have less shame about our guilty pleasures (like turning tragedy into television entertainment) than we used to. It'd be nice to get some shame back; it's pretty disgusting the way we've turned shootings into just another reality tv show to talk about around the watercooler.
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