tampabay.com

Violence has become entertainment

By TOM RINGO
Published May 4, 2007


Every day, without fail, I see the warning "Viewer discretion advised" in one fashion or another, on television shows meant for entertainment. Many times, these shows are on in prime time.

My children are now grown and have families of their own, so my concerns about what they watch are minimal or nonexistent. They are adults now, and their decisions are their own.

However, I do wonder about families with small children at home and the various shows to which they are exposed. Yes, I know that everyday life is what these shows are depicting, but that is precisely my point. We have way too many "everyday experiences" that we exposed to, and our children in turn, just by living our daily lives. Why do we have to have them replayed for us in the name of entertainment?

Not that she favors these shows, either, but my wife tells me the generation gap has manifested itself in me. She actually leaves the room when they get too graphic. But for the life of me, I can't see television shows that require a disclaimer of "may be too graphic for young viewers, " or "Due to the nature of this program, viewer discretion in advised, " being classified as entertainment.

I grew up with The Andy Griffith Show and The Red Skelton Show, Leave it to Beaver and The Dick Van Dyke Show; I am sure many of you can name many more. Never once did the network have to precede the show with a disclaimer that watching might damage my psyche.

These shows were entertaining. I don't know about you, but to me entertainment should take my mind off the worries of everyday life, not reinforce the incredible stress already forced on each of us by daily living.

When did graphic blood and guts splashing across the TV screen become entertainment? When I was a kid, blood and guts were shown to us in driver's education to deter us from doing something stupid, not for us to get our jollies from watching it.

Maybe my wife is right; maybe the entertainment industry has passed me by. Perhaps the world has gotten too sophisticated for The Life of Riley, December Bride, I Love Lucy, Car 54, Where Are You? and the like. It just seems to me that when we were watching these shows and others like them, even the evening news didn't seem to be so full of violence.

Tom Ringo lives in Brooksville. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.