Monday, October 15, 2007

Kid Nation and Other Shows

As most long-time readers know, we got rid of the television, cable and whatnot probably seven years ago now. First, my autistic son would sit like a zombie in front of Thomas the Tank Engine, and I was so overwhelmed, I simply didn't know what to do with him. It was him stare at the TV or stare at me and the latter freaked me out. Two, my husband and I were addicted to watching mindless shows. I would have the TV on during the day and watch Oprah or whatever arts show was on just to pass the time feeling overwhelmed (see #1).

It got ridiculous.

So, we sent cable to never-never land. We missed sports. I missed football, too. But we soldiered on. Well, this last year, I bought the hubby the flat screen, and then the DVR and then the universal remote and then I programed it. Well, ya gotta have cable! So we're back watching sports. The TV isn't on during the day. And I'm not really hooked into any show besides House. I just flip around (when I can make the remote work. Strangely, I could program it, but using the blasted thing is incredibly difficult.).

This last week I watch caught the Bionic Woman and Kid Nation. The former was OK. Unfortunately for Jaime Summers, she's not the most compelling person on the show. Battle Star Galactica actress Katee Sackoff steals every scene. Sackoff does tortured so well. The actress playing Jaime Summers seems bland in comparison. And she's not at all athletic. She just feels wrong for the part. Maybe she'll grow on me. So far, I think she was mis-cast.

Kid Nation surprised me. My husband couldn't get past the exploitation issues and I agree that it's disturbing to see a poor little ten year old sobbing for his family. What struck me most, though, is how Kid Nation reveals cultural changes. Adults these days underestimate children. We have infantilized children and even young adults so completely, that it's unimaginable that a seven year old cares for younger siblings all over the world. But they do. And they did. And they could. And they can.

Ironically, part of the reason I decided to home school was to foster independence in my children. Now that they're not pried out of bed at 6:00 a.m., they have time to make their own breakfast, clean up, get dressed, get their work out, and start their work. They are already working more independently, helping each other and caring for their younger sibling. Self esteem has risen.

Happiness is directly related to control. That is, when we feel in control, when we have something mastered, we get a sense of satisfaction. Our kids get deprived of that satisfaction when everything is done for them. They feel helpless and hopeless.

Anyway, I'll try to catch Kid Nation again. It's good to see that left to their own devices, even modern American kids would dig deep and have the emotional, intellectual and physical resources to survive--even if the situation is contrived.


mkfreeberg said...

I don't believe in what are called "conspiracies"; I think the human species lacks the cohesion, the capability to stay silent on yummy secrets, and the general ability to communicate privately. I don't think conspiracies, in the popularized definition, exist.

But I do believe in something close. And if you expand the definition just a tad, I do think television is engaged in a "conspiracy" to keep us titillated and bored at the same time. You were "addicted to watching mindless shows." You aren't alone, by a long shot.

One thing I wish you covered, which my gal and I discuss frequently (since she's quite into it), is what Neal Boortz calls "the insipid morning coffee klatch." And the next step up from that is the phony before-seven-o'clock "news." A couple of mornings ago we were treated to a huge ten-minute expose on more and more products being recalled due to lead contamination. They were doing their level best to spin it so you might conclude this is a brand new danger, like...that silly ozone-hole thing. You had to really listen to every word and think it out for yourself, to realize -- this is just a popular product-recall issue right now. It's a "fad," in the sense that the regulators have an additional question to ask, and of course nobody's giving a satisfactory answer, so off the shelves the products come. Lipstick, play-doh, lunchboxes, et al.

But if you're just believing what you're told, you'd think little green men were breaking into our warehouses and spraying lead all over everything.

So it's a conspiracy -- small-c conspiracy -- to keep us frightened, stupid, dependent, and you know what? Impoverished would be alright too. That goes for phony news, for talk shows, miniseries, sitcoms, and that horrible, awful, wretched thing they call "Reality TV." The three years I spent without TV, were no less entertaining or enlightening than all the other years I had with it. I mean yeah I felt a little disconnected when everyone started jibber-jabbering about "Survivor" and South Park episodes and the football game...but I didn't really miss it at ALL. Not like missing bike rides or visits to the ocean or good friends, or anything of the like.

We put way, way too much importance on this twentieth-century information medium.

Melissa Clouthier said...


You're right. I didn't talk about the morning shows though, because I never watched them. The insipid Katie Couric and her compatriots at other stations were so friggin' insulting to women, I could hardly stand it. Since having the TV back, it's not on during the day at all. We watch football and sports, mostly. I'll catch a news show and I like some nature shows for the kids on the weekend. That's it.

TV sucks creative energy away, it crushes the spirit. There is no good news. I don't watch the news shows. Period. None of them. They are a waste. I can get 10x the news that's deeper with more analysis and multiple points of view on the internet. Why would I pay attention to an inferior medium?

I don't watch reality shows. Although, last year, I watched American Idol for the first time, just to see what the buzz was all about.

Having extricated myself from the borg, I go in and out at will. It has no hold on me. But it used to. And it does for a lot of other people.

Viola Jaynes said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H e l l o . . . N i c e . . . B l o g . . . P U S H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .