Time for TV to Grow Up

Jun 21st, 2010 | By | Category: Uncategorized

Chris Cork, a British social worker who has settled in Pakistan, is tired of watching adults on TV act like petulant children and wonders when TV is going to grow up. He writes this in a column for The News today that gets to the heart of a real problem: The way people act on TV news programmes not only reflects on our society, it influences it as well. When all we see are people yelling and talking over each other and acting like children, this is how we begin to behave ourselves.

There were two men and a woman on the panel and they yelled and shouted at one another as if they were on a street corner – which is all very well if you are on a street corner but perhaps not the best way to comport yourself in front of the viewing public. But then I thought a bit more deeply about what I was looking at – which was street-corner politics but transferred to a TV studio. These were people who felt no constraint by virtue of being ‘on the telly’. They interacted as they do in real life. In real life, sans cameras and producer and anchor, if they disagree they bellow and yell, interrupt, wave shoes and hurl insults at one another.

Then I considered the audience, and came to the conclusion that those watching would have expected the panellists to behave like this because that is how politicians behave; certainly at the grassroots and not infrequently in the various parliamentary chambers.

The sense of outrage that those of us in the chattering classes may feel or express is not mirrored by the majority of the viewing public. I took a quick and unscientific survey within my own household. Nobody thought that the people on the TV were doing anything that was inappropriate, and they were happy to see their elected representatives scrapping like cats in an alley.

Mr Cork is concerned that perhaps there are too many channels and that causes each of them to dumb down their content to get guests and appeal to the widest audience. Whether or not that is true I cannot say. But whatever the cause, his solution is correct: “please -we’ve dumbed down far enough, let’s not get any dumber.”

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