This morning, I woke up with both kiddos in bed with me. Their daddy is out of town on business for a few days – giving me ample opportunity to avoid bedtime scheduling madness (guess who’s the disciplinarian here) and revel in those snuffly sighs and giggles that escape just before exhaustion overtakes them and they drift into dreamland.
Eventually, Andy and I rolled out of bed and went into the living room to start our day in the customary way. A pastry. Some cereal. Flipping back and forth between Morning Express (hi, Robin Meade!) and Good Morning America (hello, GMA crew!). We love Robin’s laughter and the lighthearted interaction among the GMA team, the care they seem to give each other when topics turn serious.
Ella heard the television and stirred. I watched from the living room as she sat up, wiped the sleepy from her big brown eyes, and yawned. The GMA segment went to commercial.
And then, wham.
Did that just flash on my TV screen?
In front of 8-year-old Andy?!
A camera trick. A clever angle.
I told Andy – his blue eyes had gone wide – to get something from the refrigerator (out of sight of the TV).
Snatched up the remote.
There it was.
On my TV.
During a major network news program.
What HELL just ascended into my living room and burned itself into my precious boy’s brain?
I hit pause, grabbed my iPhone, snapped a picture, and then got the image off the screen before Andy could see again or Ella could find out why Mommy’s face registered shock. A quick post to Facebook later and many joined in the chorus. Then Facebook notified me my picture had been “reported as inappropriate due to nudity”.
Now Facebook has removed my post.
Thanks for the affirmation, Facebook.
I understand we’ve ceded the idea of morality in primetime. A moronic move, but one we (and by “we” I mean Jesus-following folk) have to own. But this wasn’t primetime. This was a commercial about a primetime show airing while we all enjoy cornflakes and coffee and wish our kiddos a good morning.
My kid saw that. Not because I took him to a movie wholly inappropriate for his age. Not because I quit parenting and just told him to turn on the TV at 10pm and watch whatever. Not because I turned on a show this morning that he had no business watching with me.
He saw that because somewhere, someone made some decisions.
Someone decided the writers of Betrayal weren’t delivering a story that would hold viewers’ interest on its own.
Someone told talented actors that their craft alone – delivering solidly written lines in a believable fashion – wouldn’t cut it.
Someone told a director and set crew that their crafts alone – finding the right angles, setting a mood with lighting – wouldn’t get it done.
Someone decided that what was needed to get people to actually watch Betrayal was taking off the actors’ clothes and having them simulate sex – at least, the Hollywood version of it.
And then someone who does the ad placement at GMA and for the show Betrayal decided what was needed to make this ABC show another “most watched show” for the network was to place that ad smack in the middle of my morning. And yours. And millions of other family members.
Not because the ad says, “Hey – incredible story, right here. Entertaining. Created with excellence. Worthy of your time.” No, the ad says, “Hey, people screwing. Breaking vows. Right here. Take a look. More tonight. Bring your kids and anybody else that’s in the room right now.”
Really? This is what we’ve come to? Show titles like, Deception, Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, Betrayal, and Revenge? Simulated sex scenes at 8am? Glorifying the breaking of wedding vows as high drama and entertainment?
I am not going into that darkness without a very loud, very public, foot-stomping, loud-voiced, fist-raising, steely-eyed FIGHT.
I will fight to help create shows and movies and books that are engaging, entertaining, thought-provoking, and society-uplifting. I will choose to believe that the basest among us in this industry are not the standard bearers or setters. I will stay committed to educating myself and others so that the quality of our work enhances the content thereof.
I will not accept that the presence of standards equates to the hatred of anyone and is therefore somehow unacceptable in the public square.
I’m not advocating censorship or a return to Father Knows Best. Sometimes, a sex scene is needed. Read A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty for a good example.
But don’t genuine storytellers and storymakers have a responsibility to the artistic ability with which we’ve been entrusted? We do not take the gift of our readers’ and viewers’ time – their precious, precious time – and debase it. We do not take the exquisite gift of love-making and use it as a cheap trick to raise ratings or sales. And we most definitely do not take highly adult concepts and plop them down in front of children.
Is this really where we’ve come to…and where we’re content to stay? Is this all we want to do with our art? Our technology?