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The Nefarious Power of Television

Christine Fitzgerald

There has been so much healthy reaction to the incident during the half-time ceremonies of the Super Bowl game that the average American citizen is breathing a public sigh of relief. The reaction is proof that there are lots of people disgusted with the media and television trash in general. For years, the news has been slanted to fit revolutionary agendas, that is, to push egalitarian ideas, immorality, and violence and to favor a general mental disequilibrium in every possible situation.

Violence and criminality

The book cover of 'Prime Time Closet'

Homosexuals are regular fare today on TV
Checking the list of available TV shows last week, one sees the following as possible fare for young and old alike:
  • Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen De Generis – both openly professed lesbians

  • “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” – homosexual content displayed in a sympathetic context

  • NBC’s popular ER in which Dr. Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes) has openly professed herself a lesbian. A character in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer is also openly lesbian.

  • Joan of Arcadia – a teenager who converses with different human incarnations of “god,” including a school cafeteria server, a street sweeper, and a “cute” teen-age boy. This “god” preaches the modern gospel of relativism: be true to yourself, whatever that may be…
The blatant immorality is one thing. Another is the violence. One night of television watching can bring a hundred murders into view. How cruel and insensitive must a person become who, by gradualism, is hardened to murders committed before their eyes? How many persons are influenced by these criminal models? The answers to these questions can be readily reached on the five o'clock news every evening. Children are kidnapped, molested, tortured, and murdered; women are done in by their husbands and vice-versa; middle school children are killing their schoolmates; everywhere there is suicide, dishonesty in the work place, extra-marital affairs, and much more.

This is what American families are getting used to. Even though the television is not the only cause of these increasing crimes, doubtless it has a powerful influence. Watching TV everyday, saturated by the immorality and violence shown with impunity, Americans are becoming more corrupted and aggressive.

A bad and subtle process that unconsciously changes our customs

Along with the shocking violence and immorality, there is a subtle process taking place in the minds of viewers. Persons tend to think it’s just entertainment; they don’t realize that their whole ideology is being changed, subtly and quietly. The change is gradual, and affects them, their children, and all of society.

This process has been called unperceived ideological transshipment, large words that mean our minds are being changed without our noticing it.

A black and white photograph of Marlon Brando in an undershirt

Marlon Brando: Scandalous in the '50s wearing undershirt in public; today seen as normal
Doctors trained in hypnosis say that the flickering light of the television puts people into an imperceptible trance where images and ideas pass into their brains without the normal censure of reason. So images and ideas are introduced into one’s mind by a stranger – and further, in a strange kind of way different from other types of learning.

This nefarious power of the television can explain part of the change that has occurred in our daily lives. Forty years ago, it was rare to hear of a murder, a kidnapping, or a child being molested in an unnatural way. At that time, people went to bed at night in most small towns with their doors unlocked. Christmas brought public displays everywhere of crèches and nativity scenes. In my home town, on Good Friday, all the merchants closed shop during the hours of 12 to 3 p.m. in respect for the time during which Our Lord was crucified. Children were respectful to their parents and adults in general, and they dressed like boys and girls. Tattoos and body piercing were rightfully relegated to pagan tribes and barbarians, not to persons in a civilized country.

In fact, no child would have been able to conjure up the atrocities in dress and personal "decoration" that we see today. Where did the inspiration for that come from? We are different, radically different as a society than we were 40 years ago. What brought us to this place, to this condition that we are all suffering in today?

One of the factors of this change certainly was the television. Revolutionary, pagan and esoteric ideas unacceptable to our Catholic mentality were implanted in our customs. Society was introduced to different ways of being, dressing, speaking and acting - vulgar, egalitarian, and immoral, and the viewers, without realizing it, without perceiving it, gradually accepted them and changed their own attitudes and values. The normal reaction of outrage, softened by repeated viewing and by seductive situations that glorified immoralities and unnatural behavior, was dulled. This gradual process made things acceptable now that were unacceptable years ago.

A simple and wise solution: Turn it off

Is this a complex and complicated issue that will take years of research to find how to stop it? No, the answer is simple and straightforward. As a nation, we Americans must turn off the television set. By doing so, we will have cut some important lines of communication that revolutionary, immoral and depraved people have to our homes and our children. We need to block such access to our own souls and those for whom we have a responsibility.

In days past, the Catholic Church taught us that we were morally responsible – culpable – for placing ourselves or our children in the near occasion of sin. Today’s television programming is the occasion of sin, for sure, even in some cases the news programs with their "reporting" of every kind of atrocity and unnatural act.

The very idea of turning off the television causes fear and trembling in many parents. What can be done with our time? How will we be entertained? The children will never go for it. If one wants to speak of fear and trembling, he would be wise to review the words of St. Paul:
"With fear and trembling – work out your salvation …. that you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: among whom you shine as lights in the world." (Phil 2:12,16)
A whole family watching television

A solution for the family - Don't let it dominate family life. Turn it off.  - Newsweek, November 11, 2002
People who truly care about "working out their salvation in fear and trembling" should ask themselves what would be the best use of their time. How long has it been since families played games together? What a wonderful way of connecting with your children! When our time at home is spent mute before the television, it is impossible to develop normal relationships that build respect, love, understanding and cooperation between children and parents. People who have thrown out the television have discovered, to their delight, that life becomes more interesting, children gradually become calmer and draw closer to the family. Innocence and peace slowly return to the home.

In years past individuals were happy and even proud of their distinctions, their family traits and ways of being that made them different from others. Today, we have the mass man, who all look and act the same. The modern teenager thinks what his friends think, wear what his friends wear. The models for this dress and behavior come from what is seen on television. The point of reference is no longer the family. Friends – or even a group or gang – have replaced the normal ties to home and family.

The models of the Catholic family and home not so long ago were Christ and the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph. Lives of the saints were held up to admire and imitate. Now we have Magic Johnson and Brittany Spears. One of the elements that has contributed to this downhill slide is the almost universal and deadly influence of television on society.

a book on the social effects of games
A book on the effect of TV's

A book on the effect of TV's on children
The book cover of 'More than a Movie'
Fortunately, a landslide of books is also appearing that detail the negative effects of television on every aspect of a person's life, particularly in a child’s formation. If we are distressed by what we see around us in society – and who isn't – the solution is easy. Turn off the television once and for all.

To remember that we will be judged by what we willingly choose to put in our minds, be it innocent or vile, is to remember the counsel of Our Lord Himself speaking to the multitudes:
"Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God"
Posted February 26, 2004

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