Friday, December 03, 2004

Unwrapping Innocence

Earlier this year, I wrote a column about the impropriety of airing prophylactic advertisements during Saturday morning children’s programming. Aficionados of the moral debauchery into which our nation is descending snapped classic animation is no longer directed at young children but rather towards libertine post-adolescents with less control over their urges than barnyard animals. Some unable to muster a rational argument instead chose to disparage my personal appearance.

Even if the viewing public must concede dominion of old favorites to these reprobates, does that mean we must stand by and yield all quality programming to those who want to drag us down to their level?

Typically, broadcasters have had a tradition of airing quality programming during the Christmas season. Usually, parents don’t have to expend much moral anguish as to whether or not the innocence of their children will be compromised through viewing these often cute or touching shows.

However, as in regards to the older Saturday morning adventures of yore now under new custodianship, it is my contention that the ethical peril lies not so much with the content as it does with the commercials.

The American Girl series of books have received considerable acclaim as quality literature depicting the lives of young girls during the nation’s early years in a manner reminiscent of Little House On The Prairie or Anne of Green Gables. As with other successful literary properties that have come before it, this one has made the transition from bookshelf to film as a new television movie produced for this special time of year titled “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday”.

Sounds like a night of enjoyable, worry-free TV, doesn’t it? Such an assessment would be incorrect.

While the movie was itself well-done and will no doubt become a Christmas classic and hopefully spawn sequels, many parents --- at least in the Washington Metropolitan Area watching channel 50 --- were no doubt flustered when they either had to avert the attention of young eyes and ears or face having to answer questions about birth control pills or feminine hygiene products.

Call me old fashioned or out of touch, but I think a parent should be able to sit down to watch a children’s show without having to explain what a tampon or maxipad is to a seven year old. Furthermore, what’s the point of advertising these things anyway since they have a captive market to begin with whose demand is not going to fluctuate any appreciable degree due to persuasive advertising.

Disgruntled feminists cannot dismiss such criticisms as sexist, chauvinist, misogynist, or what ever other label they might throw around certain times of the month to intimidate cowering males. Most women I know of frankly find those kinds of commercials embarrassing. Even NBC anchor Brian Williams, hardly a pawn of the religious right, revealed on The Sean Hannity Show how he did not like such intimate matters discussed during commercial breaks.

In the movie, the grandmother chides Samantha for inquiring about the private life of the family servants. While contemporary social relations shouldn’t be characterized by the same degree of contrived hyperformality, a little Victorian modesty might do everyone a bit of good and would be a gift this season that would give the whole year through.

Copyright 2004 by Frederick Meekins

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