Change the Channel

by Jane Stavem

Change the Channel

When I get home in the evening I typically watch a little television – a favorite show or maybe something recorded on the DVR. Over the years, I have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of shows that don’t contain some level of content I find objectionable. And now the commercials are just as bad.

Maybe that makes me sound a lot like…well, my mother!

I’m fine with that.

As I watched television over this past week I have gone from frustrated to completely perplexed. Maybe someone reading this can explain.

Change the Channel

I watch continuing news coverage of the most recent shooting in our country. The commentators are shocked, horrified and outraged, and a multitude of people are commenting on the tragedy of losing more lives to gun violence. People demand something is done to stop the madness of the ongoing violence.

Change the Channel

The newest, exhilarating TV show promises to take you to the darkest places you’ve ever seen to uncover the worst crimes ever committed. It is hyped as something you shouldn’t miss – has exciting music and eye-catching graphics, and does everything possible to attract viewers. In the previews, guns are fired, scary people make victims cower in sheer terror, and crime scene blood is spattered everywhere. Set your DVR – you won’t want to miss this entertaining first episode of a new series!

Change the Channel

A Senate hearing takes place with women asking questions and providing testimony about sexual harassment in the workplace. They list solutions that include panic buttons for hotel staff, additional training on civility and new requirements for defining acceptable behavior. Bright, smart, beautiful women provide information, provocative questions and suggested solutions to problems that plague men and women in an effort to protect and preserve personal dignity and human worth.

Change the Channel

Scantily clad women jump into a swimming pool with men they have just met. Hyper-sexualized scenes include numerous references to casual sex, heavy drinking, and multiple liaisons. And this is only the commercial that airs at normal family viewing hours during a children’s show.

Change the Channel

A news channel focuses on the somber, nationwide problem of sex-trafficking and childhood exposure to pornography and sexual addiction. The average age of exposure? Nine.

Change the Channel

A primetime movie features two teenagers who joke about pornography in the locker room as their friends also view it on their phone. Crude comments are made, parental guidance is disregarded, and secret behavior is normalized.

Change the Channel

A documentary focuses on the rising suicide rate among teenagers and features shocking statistics and teary parents completely unaware their child was in trouble. Social media contained clues that something was desperately wrong – and friends knew they were in trouble.

Change the Channel

A music video – playing in the ears of kids everywhere – flashes images of kids dancing – sports icons – cars – money – drugs – guns – assault – sex – explicit lyrics – repeats. The video is hailed as impressive and rewarded with a Grammy.

Change the Channel

People visit restaurants to find the biggest and best version of their favorite fare, eating until they are physically ill. TV food programs showcase “food wars” “epic” “colossal” “outrageous” and “ultimate.” Food is rejected if it is not beautiful, perfect, better.

Change the Channel

It costs only $25 a month to feed a hungry child. Won’t you help – cut to the sad music, starving child and mother crying over her dying baby.

Change the Channel

Morbid obesity has caused a woman to live in her bed for the past three years. Now she’ll make the trip to have major surgery to remove part of an internal organ to solve the problem.

Change the Channel

Mother and child are screaming at each other. Mother says the child is out of control and won’t listen to her. Child says her mother doesn’t care and has been cutting herself. The doctor breaks in for a commercial previewing tomorrow’s show: A woman had sex with five men and doesn’t know who the father of her child is. We’ll be back in a minute. Applause.

Change the Channel

Thousands of children are waiting. Maybe you can be a foster parent to a child who needs you.

Change the Channel

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand how – with one press of a button – content can go from horrible to entertaining, Senate-worthy to scintillating, or unbelievable to unthinkable.

I don’t think we can cry for change on one channel and willingly turn and watch the opposite thinking on another. It’s duplicitous and it’s wrong.

If our country is truly going to change – for the better – we have to be willing to admit that we can’t have it both ways.

Killing is either horrible or entertainment.

Violence is either condemned or condoned.

Hunger is either awful or ignored.

Conflict is either glorified or rectified.

We cannot laugh and cry, acknowledge and ignore, defend and fight, condemn and exploit.

Please – Change the Channel