Lately I’ve been watching less and less TV. Mainly because the content is so troubling. Also because I’ve committed to finding better things to do with my time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy curling up on my couch with a blanket and my mug of coffee, and binge watching my favorite shows that I’ve saved on my DVR. (My husband makes fun of me for some of the ridiculous shows that I watch, which is why I have to record them and watch them when he’s either sleeping or not home!). I admit, I am a reality show junkie, and I have certainly indulged in my fair share of mindless
But as I take a look at some of the images swirling around, penetrating the impressionable minds of our future generations, I can’t help but pause and reflect on it all.
When you tune in to today’s TV programming, you can sometimes find yourself far off in a distant world where mistresses are glorified and wives are vilified. Where programming for children is laced with horrible social behaviors, teaching them that conceited one liners, bullying and sexism are playful and harmless ways to get a laugh. Where it is completely normal and acceptable for grown women (wives and mothers no less) to participate in screaming matches and hair pulling over a cocktail lunch. A world where the Babysitters Club has turned into the Bad Girls Club, and teen moms are getting paid to air their dirty laundry, often landing endorsement deals and ending up on the cover of magazines in the process. A world where self-centered, tantrum throwing Bridezillas have deduced and degraded the holiness and sanctity of marriage down to a mere booze fest with tuxedos, dresses and cake.
I’ve been harboring this blog post for a while…can’t you tell?
Two images in particular that I find really frustrating are that of Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, the brilliant White House “fixer” on ABC’s hit show Scandal, and Gabrielle Union as Mary Jane Paul, the successful TV news anchor and all-around powerhouse on BET’s new series Being Mary Jane.
Here’s what they have in common: they are beautiful, smart and extremely good at what they do. Seemingly great role models. Fashionistas. Witty. Passionate. Loving.
But here’s where the plot thickens: they are adulterers. Both habitually and willingly sleeping with very married men. They’ve both been confronted by the “evilly” depicted wives of their married suitors, but yet didn’t stop the adultery. Episode after episode, their miserable, drama filled lives unfold.
In all fairness, I did not watch the most recent season of Scandal, and I only watched the first episode of Being Mary Jane – so I’m not completely up to date on where Ms. Pope and Mary Jane landed at the close of the season. The truth is, I felt deep conviction with watching these shows and just simply couldn’t in good conscience stomach it anymore, which is a shame because I think they are both really well written shows and I adore both actresses. For these same reasons though, I call out these two particular television characters because I think they are the most egregious of them all. Yes the reality housewives, teen moms, Bridezillas and such put the ‘R’ in ratchet, but their behavior is expected and their shock factor is what creates their celebrity. Not excusing it, but just saying.
But as respectable actresses, on well established, mainstream networks, the roles Kerry and Gabrielle play as Olivia Pope and Mary Jane stand to garner the most mind share, and symbolize so much more. In fact Scandal and Being Mary Jane saw incredible ratings for their season finales – 10.5 million and 6 million viewers respectively – which speaks volumes about the interests that drive our society.
I am in no way suggesting Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union bear the weight of the world on their shoulders, nor am I suggesting that they are responsible for being role models. Particularly since these roles are fiction, and not meant to be followed. I’m simply airing my grievances about TV in general and the widespread negative influence and impact these fictitious personas can have on those that are not able to separate fiction from reality (i.e. myself about 15 years ago).
When you take images of beautiful, successful, educated, ambitious and articulate women, and then project those positive images through such negative lenses (i.e. adultery, promiscuity, chaos and confusion), you can’t help but imagine that somewhere out there, a young mind is being misguided.
Maybe I’m biased because I’m a wife and I’m just bitter because side chicks are winning on TV. Or maybe it’s my strong convictions as a Christian woman. Heck, maybe I’m way off and over reacting. In any case, the truth is, Olivia Pope is far from a savior who can rescue you from a scandal. Jesus has that job covered. And the very sad truth is, unfortunately some women out there would rather take a shot at being Mary Jane, than striving to be the virtuous women that God created them to be.
But my rant doesn’t end there…
I have a major bone to pick with children’s networking as well. I recently read a great blog post, “Disney is Ruining my Kid”, which I couldn’t agree more with. About a year ago my husband and I decided to remove the cable box from our daughters’ bedroom, because we saw the negative impact the images from shows supposedly geared toward children were having on them. The sassy attitudes our 6 and 7 year old girls started displaying after they transitioned from Nick Jr. to the Disney Channel was startling. After watching a few episodes with them, I was horrified to find that every episode seemed to be themed around dating, or scheming, or being disrespectful to each other and/or to adults – typically all of the above in most episodes. Now, with no cable TV in their bedroom, they can only watch the pre-approved DVD’s that we purchase for them (I found some old seasons of the Cosby Show and they absolutely love them!) or they watch cable TV in the family room while supervised – some favorites at the moment are Cupcake Wars, Chopped, The Voice and Dancing With the Stars.
Now that I’ve thoroughly ranted, and I’ve gotten all that off my chest, and since I still have your attention, I’d like to share a list of what I think are 15 better uses of time than watching TV. Please take a read, and let me know if you have any others to add to the list in the comment section.
- Study, Meditate and Pray – Studying and meditating on God’s word is a million times more important and rewarding than any TV show. Through prayer we grow in closer relationship with God, and are able to sort out the issues of life. Make your spiritual growth a daily priority.
- Read – Reading is a great way to stimulate your mind, learn something new, or just to simply relax and escape between the pages.
- Exercise – You may be thinking, “But I watch TV to relax!” Even if you don’t want a really intensive workout, you can still turn off the television and go for a walk. This is a great way to indulge in some me-time and meditative moments.
- Cook – Rather than being a couch potato, why not experiment in the kitchen? Surf Pinterest for some intriguing recipes and try to cook or bake something new.
- Get a New Hobby – Pick something you’ve always wanted to do, but felt like you never had time to do. My new hobby is blogging, and I’m really enjoying reading the thoughts of others, engaging on social media, and sharing my own experiences and life with you all, my new blogosphere friends 🙂
- Write – You may like to write poetry, short stories, or maybe you’ve always wanted to write a novel. Or you may simply want to write down your thoughts for the day. Whatever you chose to write doesn’t really matter, its all therapeutic.
- Take a Hot Bath – Remember those old “Calgon take me away!” commercials, where the woman soaks in a luxurious bubble bath after a long day? Break out the bath salts and the loofah, and steal away from the noisy TV to have yourself a Calgon moment instead.
- Get Organized – If you live a busy life, chances are there is always something that could use better prep or planning. Prepare for the next day. Pack the lunches, iron and lay out the clothes, prep dinner for the next day so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven.
- Play a Game – My girls love playing board and card games with me and my husband. We break out the Monopoly and Uno cards and go head to head for some good old-fashioned family fun.
- Go Outside – During the warmer months, roll up your sleeves and become one with the earth. Get some gardening done, give your yard that “curb appeal”, or just sit on the front porch and relax with a lemonade. Whatever you like to do outside, get out there and do it!
- Find a DIY or Craft Project – Make it kid friendly, or maybe find something that is stimulating for just yourself. Sew, paint, staple or glue something. Create a beautiful object for your home.
- Organize Family Photos – Get all of your family memories electronically organized, and if you want to get really creative, build a family scrapbook. This is one thing that I need to work on myself. I have pictures stored here and there, and I’d be devastated if I lost or couldn’t locate any of them.
- Clean Something – Enough said!
- De-clutter Your Life – Anyone else a paper and mail hoarder like me? Every so often I have to purge, and that’s usually after I have a few boxes and bags to sort through. This tip also includes de-cluttering closets, garages, cabinets, drawers and car trunks. Anything that doesn’t have a use or proper place can be donated to someone who really needs it.
- Get More Social – Invite family or friends over to hang out. Call up that person you’ve been meaning to call for weeks and catch up.
Peace and Blessings,