Functioning reality and unreal fantasy

Do television and movies cross a line when it comes to portraying realistic events? Is our escape from the “everyday” destroying our ability to think clearly about our own lives?

We have been having this ongoing discussion in my Media Literacy class for a few weeks.

Our focus is on Disney and the romantic implications it places on young children today. Do these children see these princes and princesses and learn about an unrealistic fantasy of love before they even know what it means?

It gives them hope. It is a perfect way to introduce children to the idea of love. To contrast, imagine letting the same child watch the sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond.” There is always some sort of marital drama in this program between the protagonist Raymond, and his wife Deborah in every episode. They yell at each other, ignore each other and sometimes even throw objects at each another.

Raymond and Deborah may depict a real relationship more closely than most Disney movies, but is this the sort of programming kids need to learn about love? We want them to learn the best of what this world could offer.

Hopes may be held too high for the Disney movies of the 20th century, but they are beginning to get closer to a happy medium between “Cinderella” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

More confusion arises with adult animated series. I have yet to muster up the strength to watch a full episode of “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” or “South Park.” These programs attract children because they are animated and have characters that appear to be children like them.

The messages these shows convey are not meant for children.

There are children-oriented movies and programs specially designed for a younger audience, but anything that can attract an adult more than likely has inappropriate underlying content that only adults will understand.

The problem arises when children pick up on that strangely worded phrase that could be construed as adult content.

Children are not the only ones affected by television and movies, however. Teens and young adults also learn from the entertainment industry. Some of them have positive messages. “The Big Bang Theory” shows that it is acceptable to be different from mainstream society.

The new sitcom “Mom” or the older “Two and a Half Men” depict drugs in a way that television has never seen before. Where “Mom” shows recovering addicts and their journey to sobriety, “Two and a Half Men” relishes in depicting drug and alcohol driven lives and idolizes those who lead them.

The new series “Extant” is set in the future, where the protagonist fights a fantasy world, which is created by her half-alien, half-human child.

As we find seek refuge in these unrealistic worlds, we also need to see what they are doing to our lives–as well as our childrens’.

Marie McBurnett

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