I wanna be a Nickelodeon kid!” the five year old chanted and swayed along with the hyper-colourful cavorting youngsters on the commercial. Even after the TV was off, she hopped around the room proclaiming her desire to belong to the Nickelodeon network.
We know the girl didn’t realize what she was saying, but it’s an excellent example of how malleable human beings are. Television is an unprecedented powerful medium, combining rapid sight and sound in a way that has a tremendous and impacted psychological effect. Companies wouldn’t pay millions of dollars for a 30-second commercial during major sporting events like the Olympics if this weren’t the case. Adults may not run around their living rooms chanting “I wanna drive a Land cruiser!” but millions of them flock to car showrooms every year to purchase all-terrain vehicles half the price of a unit that will never touch any terrain but pavement.
Various media ranging from adverts such as these, to so-called
movie ‘classics’ like “The Godfather” are negative influences on today’s society. Millions every day are forced to sit through programs that portray actors doing things which most would find unethical and wrong. So what’s the difference between watching someone acting out a murder or sex scene on television, and witnessing the real thing firsthand?
Why is it that, if we were to accidentally open the wrong hotel room door and find a man and woman doing certain things together, we would feel everything from embarrassment to nausea, but when we see the same things on a TV in our own hotel room, we are transfixed with curiosity? Why is it that millions of cinema-goers will flock to see “Saving Private Ryan” or “Black Hawk Down” for a simulation of the same experience that caused millions of war veterans post-traumatic shock and severe depression?
When I recently decided to watch the latest reality TV show, I was surprised at how drained and listless I felt afterwards. Apart from the dreary, unintelligible show’s content; the lethargic state was simply the effect of the screen experience on a human body. You don’t notice it until you’ve fasted from visual media for a good long while, but it is powerful. It’s a completely different feeling from finishing a book, or coming inside from gardening, or sitting around a table after a good meal. It fosters a laziness and dullness of being that I can’t imagine is healthy in large doses.
The screen is a strange thing. It takes our minds and...