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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 403: Oh TV, How I Look up to You

When you imagine your future, what is the source you use for forming your fantasies? You probably use some real life experiences and observations of friends and family, but these days a lot of how we imagine our lives comes from TV shows and movies. For those of us who grew up watching TV every day from a young age, the realisation that real life doesn't always happen the way it's made out on TV is quite disheartening - some of our idealisations we actually refuse to recognise as irrational fantasies. The way that love and relationships is portrayed is a good example: Love is made out to look like this magical thing that only happens once in your life with your "one true love" and that simply having this life practically guarantees that you will live happily ever after, regardless of how you actually develop and maintain your relationship. This is why divorce rates are so high - people are just looking for the rush of being "in love" without any practical tools to maintain their relationship.

What i really don't understand is how we can actually watch these TV shows and movies, seeing how completely irrational and overwhelmingly emotional people are portrayed as - and then actually find ways to integrate the dynamics we see on TV into our own lives. Think about it: women are portrayed as being emotionally needy and as reacting to their men in certain ways (ignoring them, acting like they should be able to read minds etc) - how many little girls see this and then believe that that is just how it is, so then go on to actually live it in their own lives? And how many boys watch how men are portrayed as being macho and as not showing emotions and as seeing women in a certain way (crazy, unstable, emotional etc) believe that this is the way they should think, act and be - and then go on to actually live this in their own lives?

And just think of the parenting roles that are portrayed: the cliche that talking to your child about something as natural as sex is and should be uncomfortable. That parents should lie to their child about arguments. That parents should control the child. That having an open relationship with your child is unusual.

Many of the things we see on TV do predate TV - I am not denying this. The unfortunate reality is that so many people across the world watch TV now, and instead of it being supportive, constructive or educational, it spreads the idea that people are naturally emotional and have no control over their words and actions when they are taken over by some emotion. It teaches that relationships are filled with dishonesty and totally lacking in real communication. It teaches that people are incapable of having practical conversations without becoming emotional wrecks.

Why does TV focus on these destructive forces, instead of showing how it is possible to live without all the drama, without all the emotional meltdowns. I don't want to be lashing out at the people I love because I can't deal with some or other issue - do you? TV has this huge potential to be a force for constructive change in the world, a vessel to show us all the amazing things we are capable of. Propagating silly fantasies and emotional issues is simply a waste - we are wasting our lives away getting stuck in trivial issues that we blow way out of proportion. How about making a TV show that shows us how to not be an emotional wreck? Or how to not be driven by some fantasy of "the one"? Or how to resolve a conflict situation without turning it into some huge catastrophe?

Sure, all the drama makes a few people very rich - but is the very heart of our societal existence worth it? Do we really need to turn ourselves into the cliches we see on TV?

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