Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Family Values 1/11/05

I never cease to be amazed at the split personality of the American people. Exit polls this past November indicated in a rather convincing way, that “morality and family values” were key factors in the Republican victory. The “talking heads” have even until the present emphasized that abortion, same sex marriages, the liberal values of Hollywood as well as liberal judges were among other social issues that placed a hex on the Democratic Party and its candidate Sen. John Kerry.

Sounds Great !

To my eyes and ears, an even cursory examination of TV, radio, movies, popular magazines and the heroes that we as a society look up to, make it difficult for me to appreciate any trend toward those family values that are alluded to. To the contrary, a sense of hedonism seems to permeate our super-materialistic society that places greed, sex, voyeurism, and economic gain ahead of good taste, morality or family values. Take Fox cable network and Amber Frey, newly published author, sitting with her new clothes, hairdo and lawyer, tearfully and seriously informing us of the exact moment she suspected Scott Peterson of terrible crimes and thus started taping his calls. Surely it was not in the first few minutes of her first date, because she was busy having sex with him. Based upon the time Fox granted to interviewing Amber (as did all the other networks news and talk shows), Amber is really someone we should look up to and place on a pedestal!!

Yes I can understand some interest but wouldn’t a three minute segment suffice.

The hottest trend in entertainment are the so called “reality shows.” Whose reality are these unscripted shows emulating? What lessons are we trying to teach our children with these forms of entertainment? The typical scenario, a handsome rugged looking man of 30 who has not yet found himself surrounded by 23 pretty women of all backgrounds vying to be chosen as the next soul-mate for life of our hero. REALITY?

Similarly is the reality show Wife-Swapping (notice the suggestive title, which I am sure the producers never thought of) REALITY? So important is this for the viewing public to be exposed to that the heroine is featured on CNN in the afternoon to hype the show. What major news story in our time would necessitate People Magazine stopping the presses, discarding the cover and on an emergency basis to get the magazine out days early to beat the competition? Tsunami? Iraq? No silly-it’s the story of the breakup of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston which is certainly so earth shaking that no citizen should be allowed to go an extra 24 hours without understanding its causes and ramifications.

We live vicariously, as we adulate movie stars, and the pampered overpaid professional sports figures who are our heroes. Moreover, we make sure that our children and grandchildren can spend every free moment watching sports.

The fantasy world of the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue or the Victoria Secrets’ annual event is a part of our culture like the fourth of July.

Does all this mean that we are not a moral society or that family values are unimportant? I think not. But I believe we are a society are of two minds.

In the public policy arena our basic approach is that our society demands a value system originating in the bible. Marriage as an institution can never be other than between a husband and wife (man and woman). In addition the sanctity of human life is such that we cannot allow abortion on demand to be an alternative to birth control or promiscuity. When a Willie Horton is portrayed as representing the problem of the revolving door of criminals easily released-from jail and given leave by liberal judges, only to return to crime, it is pretty clear to Americans what is wrong, and who is to blame.

However, in our daily lives, we have been overcome by changing mores, without realizing or appreciating that these societal changes have captured our lives, our souls and our values. MTV has become the bible of our generation. We are slaves to fashion designers who must shock in order to succeed. Young high school girls go to school with tight t-shirts that end above their navels, with dresses whose hems are above their thighs.,which leave little to the imagination of young hormonally charged male students. Tatoos, nasal and belly-button rings etc. are the norm, and parents have almost no input. Their dress is provocative, but after all the teen magazines are pushing this look as are their heroes from Hollywood.

Even as we demand that marriage remain sacrosanct as an institution between man and woman, we think nothing of men and women living together for years without commitments. After all, TV has 2 women and a man sharing an apartment, and it's funny. It is no longer a shame to have children born to single parents.

Americans have much leisure time, and are easily bored by books or current events. I am not advocating censorship which never works anyway. I am advocating an adult revolution that would cause us to observe what our children are watching on TV and the internet.

It is time to institute uniforms for elementary and high school students as we see in some catholic schools, both for uniformity and modesty. I am advocating telling sponsors that the shows they are sponsoring are an insult to good taste and artistic quality. We do not need organized boycotts, but rather we can vote with our credit cards and a note to the corporation why we have ceased supporting their products.

Above all it is time for us to act as educated consumers of the values that affect ourselves and our families. Of course it is so much easier to go with the flow, but how our children and grandchildren turn out will depend upon us and the type of society we demand.