Category Archives: Television

Reality TV Tolerates Child Abuse

Whether you call it “reality,” or “actuality,” it makes for “trash” television on purpose.

Matt Philbin, managing editor of the Culture and Media Institute says: “Reality television plays to people’s worst instincts and depends on people behaving badly, manipulating others, lying and violence.”

In my opinion, that’s putting it mildly.

Reality TV is the disgusting intent to make money by catering to the lowest qualities in human beings:  being entertained by death, evil, mayhem, cruelty, and downright stupidity.

MTV’s contribution to the waste of the airwaves, Teen Mom (which, by the way, targets down to 12 year olds) shows Amber Portwood violently kicked, punched, and slapped by her on-again/off-again fiancé, and the father of her illegitimate and most unlucky child.  She responds with a vulgar tirade – all in front of the child – and the cameras roll…and the cameras roll.
 
Nobody thinks of this as child abuse?  I do. Upon viewing that video, authorities from Child Protective Services should have taken that child into protective custody and attempted to terminate their parental (and I use that term loosely) rights.

In season 2 of E!’s “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami,” Fox News reports “Terrified new mom Kourtney was seen cowering and locking herself in a room with their then five-month old, as Scott Disick litters the floor with broken glass amid a violent alcohol-involved tirade.”

Grossly bad behavior these days is fodder for a TV show, with fame, fortune, nice cars, and a fabulous lifestyle as a reward.

I demand to know, considering there is video evidence, why Child Protective Services in neither case has taken the child away from each of these unfit mothers?   I’m not an attorney, but I believe this is criminal activity and I know it’s psychologically abusive to the children, as well as downright dangerous to them.

We don’t seem to have come far from the Christians/lions and gladiators as entertainment.

Blood, violence, fury, danger, vulgar displays – these form the core of the TV shows we see now.  I long for the good old days.

George Stephanopoulos Got It Wrong

I know there are some people listening right now who are tuning into my show for the first time because maybe you’ve heard some things about me in the past couple of weeks.  I’d like to correct some myths you might have heard.  First of all, I am not now… nor have I ever been… related to the vampires of Transylvania.  I only bite when asked.

If you watched Larry King last Tuesday, then you heard I’ll be ending my national radio show in December after 17 years.  Seventeen years.  Well, I never got the criticism I couldn’t hold down a job.
 
Oh, I’m sorry. Actually, I’m wrong.  Because last Wednesday – the morning after I was on Larry King… George Stephanopoulos… does everyone know who he is?  He used to work for the government?  George Stephanopoulos?  Well, he now has a full-time job on “Good Morning America.”  And last Wednesday he had this to say about me leaving radio.  Benjamin….roll tape.

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

I’m sorry, could you say that again, George?

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

I’d like to make it clear for the record and for those of you who are …. Confused.  I own my own company.  I own me. The only person who can fire me… is me.  And I didn’t fire me….  (pause)

I just gave myself 4 months notice.

Honestly, I didn’t hear about George’s little SNAFU until this morning.  But my staff heard about his gaffe last week.  So they called ABC and - the network George is on… they called ABC and asked “Did we hear that right?”  And “Would you mind issuing a correction?”
 
And the producer at ABC was very nice.  She seemed to understand George had made an error… a factual mistake on a news show… and she would see what George and ABC would do about it.  So here it is, a  whole week later.  Can I tell you what they’ve done about it? 

SFX:  (Sound of crickets)

Nothing!!

Let me get this straight.  You make a factual mistake.  You know it’s a factual mistake.  You are asked to correct your factual mistake…  And a week later…

SFX:  (Sound of crickets)
 
Hmmmmm…
 
My guess is they think nobody heard it, so therefore… it doesn’t matter.
 
You know… if a tree falls in the woods and no-one’s around?  If a newscaster makes a mistake and he has no ratings???

Well, you know I am a believer in free speech and debate.  I just prefer to pontificate myself, but that’s just me. So I figured I would let a larger audience hear George’s opinion and play it on my show today.  Could you play George again, please? 

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

One more time – George’s opinion as to why I am leaving radio…

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

Now that’s George’s opinion.  I was going to be fired.  My opinion is I was NOT about to fire myself…  It would hurt my feelings.
 
Now, we’re going to play a little game here.  If you think ABC and George Stephanopoulos should be accountable and correct their factual error, I want you to let them know since they’re a news show.  Go to my website:  www.drlaura.com.  You’ll see a link to a page where you can send George and Good Morning America an email telling them… George Got it Wrong about Dr. Laura.  Dr. Laura did not fire herself…

SFX:  “Well, she had no choice.  She was fired, right?”  (gunshot sound)

Okay.  I am having a little fun here.  But I do have a serious point to make.  And that is news sources are supposed to be coming forward about facts and not someone’s OPINION, AGENDA, GUESS, OR WISHFUL THINKING.  The reason most of you (and enough polls have shown this) don’t trust news reporting much is because you’ve realized much of what passes for NEWS these days is IN FACT opinion, agenda, guesses, wishful thinking,  or in this case… just wrong.

Why I Don’t Like Reality TV Shows

Why don’t I like so-called “reality” or “actuality” TV shows?   Because they’re mean.
 
They are intended to be mean, because “mean” is entertaining to some segments of the audience, and that scares me. 
 
Throwing Christians to the lions and watching gladiators fight to the death used to be considered wonderful entertainment in ancient times.  And while I’m not comparing actually killing someone with humiliating and demeaning them, there is a continuum here. 
 
Christians and slaves didn’t volunteer to become fodder for death to those eating popcorn in the stands.  The people on TV do volunteer to put themselves in situations which contribute to the demise of public taste, humane behavior, compassion and sensitivity.  They humiliate themselves for attention and profit.  That they volunteer for it doesn’t make doing it to them right.  It just makes them terribly pathetic.
 
When people go on an “American Idol“-like program in the hopes of being discovered for their talents, a simple “winning” or “losing” seems sufficient to me.  However, having judges who become popular by hurling horrendously insulting comments seems to be the real motivation for these programs.  Hurting people in front of others is an egregious act.  Televising it, or making money off of sponsors who support it, so that people at home can feel superior and powerful (because they’re not the ones being attacked) is purely disgusting.
 
These shows bring out the worst in people.  Martians watching our entertainment media would probably choose not to come to our planet, or else just wipe us off the face of the galaxy, because of how humanity displays itself on television (much less the Internet and the United Nations). 
 
No one is ashamed anymore.  They pass it off as giving the audience what it wants.  “It’s only TV,” or “it’s only a way to make a living,” they say. 
 
Sad.

TV Review: Fox’s “Glee”

There’s a new TV series that debuted two weeks ago called “Glee.”  The title refers to a high school glee club, and that’s as child-friendly as this show gets.  It should be rated “A,” for Adults Only. 

That said, this show kept my jaw dropped for half an hour.  Every possible stereotype can be found in “Glee,” and frankly, it’s hilarious.  The show is an equal opportunity offender of delicate senses, and is basically politically incorrect.

The Glee Club is run by a former student of the high school, Mr. Shuester, who is married to a blonde, self-centered woman who obviously never read “The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands.”  The Glee Club consists of a nice Jewish girl, an Asian girl, a sassy, large black girl, a gay male, a boy in a wheelchair, and a brain-dimmed jock. 

An uber-feminist cheerleading coach/teacher loathes any attempt of the Glee Club to gain prominence and take attention and financial support away from the cheerleaders, who are known as the “Cheer-i-os.”  She is vulgar and mean to the nth degree, and very funny because she’s so over the top.  In talking to Mr. Shuester, she says that (as she did with her elderly mother), he should “euthanize” the glee club program.  That’s a terrible thing to say!  But delivered by this actress (Jane Lynch), it’s hilarious.

The cheerleaders (all gorgeous, of course) also run the Celibacy Club, where they practice humping their boyfriends with balloons in between them.  If a balloon pops, an angel cries.  They espouse “teasing, but not pleasing.”  It’s obviously religious-based, and so religion is a bit put down by this group.

The nice Jewish girl from the Glee Club sounds like someone out of Planned Parenthood – i.e., “kids are gonna do it anyway, so we might as well give ‘em condoms,” and (with the Glee Club) performs a very gross performance of a rap song called “Push It,” with lotsa bumping and grinding.  Of course, the student “body” now wishes to join the Glee Club in droves. 

The guidance counselor is germ phobic and very hot for Mr. Shuester, whose wife is pretending to be pregnant.  It seems clear that Mr. Shuester is unhappy with his demanding, self-centered wife, and these two have an attraction.  However, the guidance counselor is a decent sort, and decides to date someone else, and not entertain her feelings for him.

So, this program goes back and forth from anti-religion/liberal sexual values for teens to the moral considerations of not engaging in an affair with a married man. 

Everyone will find something offensive, but, I’ve got to say, it is funny.  It’s on Fox, Wednesdays at 9PM Eastern/Pacific.

Common Sense Isn’t Common Any More

People have accused me of everything from being rigid, to simply spouting common sense.  Well, for the folks who think I’m rigid, I have this to say:  I have convictions – convictions that I took a lifetime to forge, convictions I stand by, because they make good sense, and ultimately help people to have better lives.

Fifty years ago, most of what I have to say was common sense.   Not so now.  Today, many values are no longer held in common, and what values are left happen to be undermined daily by forces in government, religion, professional organizations, media, communities, families, friends, neighbors, and even your own impulses.

Honestly, I fear for the growing lack of cohesion in our country with respect to values, morals, ideals, goals, and general insight.  When half the country accepts a candidate for the Supreme Court of one gender and ethnic group who says she is superior in wisdom and intent to another individual of another gender and ethnic group simply because of her gender and ethnic group, and the country doesn’t fall to the ground either laughing or outraged, I worry.

That example is one on a huge scale, but no less important is how the evaluation of family, marriage, and child care has been constantly undermined by something as simple as TV commercials. 

We’ve seen on TV a commercial for a chewing gum that seems to be an aphrodisiac (because young girls seemingly will jump their boyfriends in front of their parents).  And now, we have T-Mobile commercials that have a pretty spokeswoman who has a minor boy attempting to seduce her, as well as a husband who goes all “gaga” in front of his wife, who, when she reminds him she’s right there, says “We’re married….technically.”

This is supposed to be very funny?

We have male penile enhancement supplements being advertised all day and evening (when children are watching), and some lubricant that makes a woman explode with orgasmic pleasure.  And on and on it goes.

Back in the day, common sense would have precluded these commercials from airing, because they were tasteless and they undermined the common understanding that some things are personal and private.  But now, all the barriers are down.  Heroes today are people who sing, dance, play music, act in movies, and run with a ball.  People who sacrifice in battle, however, are ignored or impugned. 

Car commercials talk about how sturdy and safe a car is, but they do so while showing a situation in which ex-spouses are doing a “child exchange.”  Everyone is smiling and appears happy because the car is so nice.  There’s nothing “nice” about a broken family for a child.

After years and years of the TV show Friends winning so many Emmy awards, and the stars going on to other lucrative media adventures, young people think “shacking up” and out-of-wedlock pregnancies ARE common sense. 

I don’t mind being the lead salmon…I just hope that you will all consider swimming upstream with me and finally stand up privately (and publicly) for common sense.

Pop Culture’s Negative Influence on Our Kids

This is one of those times when one of your emails says it all.  The following email puts every parent on notice with respect to the proper protection of their children from influences which hurt their souls: 

“Hi Dr. Laura!  I type reports for some youth programs and typed a report a few weeks ago that has been on my mind. This report said that this particular teenager had been using very offensive swear words since the age of 5 when this person saw an R-rated movie. My first question was “What is a 5-year-old doing watching an R-rated movie?” Where is the parent? Another report indicated that one teenager had started inhaling cocaine after seeing it done in a movie. I see kids being influenced by the media all over.

As a teenager many years ago, I was taught that our minds are like a camera – i.e., taking a picture that you can’t get out–so be careful about what you put in it. Many people are concerned about the effects of violent video games and truly believe that these games will affect kids, but why don’t they use the same standard about movies that have sex (especially explicit sex) and vulgar language in them? That sticks every bit as much as violence. Once something has entered your mind, it is changed.

Today, I read in a local paper about a study that was done regarding teens and media (television and movies) containing sexual content. The teens who watched media with sexual content were more likely to engage in such behaviors than those who did not.

We would never invite a stranger into our home without knowing their purpose. Yet, every day we invite strangers into our homes when we turn on television or put a movie on. We think we know these people–they’re on the front cover of every magazine at the checkout. These people often, don’t have our best interests at heart or the best interests of our kids at heart. They are there to make money, and generally, that is their only purpose. I’m amazed at some of the talk show hosts and authors that have shared their infidelities, whether on TV or in books, like it is a badge of honor. They will certainly take credit for lending their influence in the [recent] presidential campaigns, but they certainly would not take credit for their influence in the lives of today’s teens in the terms of drugs and sex.

We have choices! We as parents need to be more judicious as to what we will allow in our homes and what we will allow our kids to be exposed to within our realm. We need to love our kids and ourselves enough to turn “that program” off and spend our time with our kids or developing ourselves. Our kids are influenced by a lot of other people away from the home, but when they return to the home, we do have the influence to reinforce the difference between good and bad, right and wrong.

 Thank you so much for all that you do to fight the negative effects on the family!”

When you’re so busy, busy, or have long given up on taking the leadership role in raising your children, or you’re way too easily dissuaded by popular culture from having moral standards and values by which you wish to raise your family, your children become prey and the predators are many.  Like vampires, they wait to suck the blood out of your children’s souls and psyches, leaving them to the forces of their immaturity and the allure of their impulses.

Your children need you to take stands…their futures depend on it!

Kids and Media Exposure to Sex

A listener labeled his email to me:
 
“The Newest Movie “Trash” Banned in Utah! Go Utah!” 
I read recently that some parts of Utah had banned the release of the new film “Zack and Miri Make a Porno”. The film is about a guy and girl who have nothing better in their dull lives to do but to produce a pornographic film together just for the fun of it. I, for one, am sick and tired of films that exploit women AND men!!! Whatever happened to going to the cinema and watching a good movie?

Thank God that Utah, a state that won’t forfeit its values and morals, stands up to films such as these, and won’t let them play in theaters there. I am a high school teacher, and believe me, Dr. Laura, our kids are craving to be taught values and morals. They want direction. They need direction. Films like these are teaching them that sex is just something that can be played with. I teach a student who has been sexually abused by his own stepfather, and I’m trying to guide him and show him a bit of comfort that he has never received….It breaks my heart to know what he has suffered, and it also breaks my heart to see students being exposed to trashy sex and stupid behavior on film. This kind of sick mess makes our jobs much more difficult in the teaching arena…. it’s time that we did something about this trash that’s being shown to our children. “

This email coincided with a US News and World Report study that sounds like “yes/no yes/no” silliness. The new research suggests that teens who spend the most time watching sexually charged television shows are twice as likely to become pregnant or impregnate someone else.

No kidding.  My generation grew up on The Flying Nun and Leave it to Beaver.  I never knew anyone who knew anyone who got pregnant in high-school. 

Here’s where the back-and-forth nonsense begins.  First, the report says that these findings don’t prove that sexy programming causes pregnancy – well, of course it doesn’t “cause” pregnancy.  But it is clear that a permissive media has a huge influence on impressionable teens, opening them up to behaviors which are not in their best interests, emotionally or medically. 

Interestingly, the researchers refused to “name names” with respect to which television shows they considered “sexually charged.”  I guess they don’t want to be open to lawsuits for suggesting that there are specific programs on the air that hurt children by opening them up to behaviors which could lead to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or the psychological trauma of sexual abuse.

Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who studies kids and television says that these findings “add to the growing body of evidence that what children see on screen affects their behavior in real life.”  I’ve always gotten a laugh from much of what psychological research – a soft science at best – finds.  They state the obvious like it was a revelation and they get grant money to do it. 

Let’s see, if we didn’t think that media impacted how people behave in real life, how long would the advertising business last?  Oh please, they pay millions for product placement movies…to influence you,   They pay millions for seconds of promotion on SuperBowl Sunday…to influence you.  It must work.  So to be “surprised” at the impact of images and behavior the media immerses our children in has got to be some kind of joke.

Back to the beginning… hooray for Utah.  Parents who want to expose their children to “trash” can always buy it on the Internet.

Everybody Lies, Everybody Cheats

One television show I’m both intrigued by and ambivalent about is called House.  It’s a medical drama in which the main character, a physician, is a diagnostic genius…except that he almost kills his patients a number of times until he brilliantly deduces the correct problem.

One problem he and his associates always have in diagnosing these strange presenting disorders is that, as Dr. House says, “everybody lies.”  It would seem that patients will withhold information essential to their proper treatment because of shame, guilt, embarrassment or to get out of some potential problem — even if it threatens their lives!  Sometime during the one-hour drama, for better or worse, the truth comes out.  Moral debates sometimes arise about the value of truth and honesty.

During my radio program, I have often cautioned people about being too flippant with honesty…it is, in fact, not always the best policy.  For example, “Your child is ugly and below average in intelligence!” or “Aging is sure being mean to you…look at all the wrinkles between your chin and your chest!”  Now, they may be honest assessments, but must all truths be spoken if they are going to hurt someone with no reasonable or positive motivation or intent?  My answer is, “no.”  My answer is to find something sweet and kind to say…there always are those aspects of a person or a situation.

However, there are circumstances where the truth is essential; and sadly, so few of our young people believe that is so.  Every school age child in America knows that a sitting, married President looked right into the television news cameras and lied about having had a sexual relationship with a young, single intern.  What was astonishing was how quickly his supporters and political party members were to dismiss this kind of lying since it was “personal.” 

It’s funny how “personal” impacts the world.  ABC News produced a story about college cheating using the most advanced devices our technology has to offer.  The piece centered on a Texas college freshman, Kiko Kho, who had used a see-through plastic pen, opened up the back and slipped in a strip of paper with vocabulary words on it so that she would pass her French exam.  If you think it is remarkable that she admitted all this to a reporter…hang on to something…she posted a video on YouTube detailing how she’d pulled off her cheat that received more than 120,000 hits.  Did she show remorse and argue against cheating?  Nope.  She did admit “it’s not a good thing to cheat,” followed up quickly by “everybody has done it.” 
    
Our young people watch television political talk and debates and hear time and time again…”that’s not true,”  “that’s false,” or “that’s a lie.”  When I was a child all I heard about was that President George Washington didn’t lie about that cherry tree…that was something to aspire to!

In Jasper, Indiana, two of three challengers for a congressional seat have agreed to be hooked up to lie detectors during an October 21 debate, but an official with the incumbent’s party dismissed the idea.  The Republican Party Chairman made this proposal to Democratic Incumbent and the GOP and Libertarian challengers.  The only one who declined to comment was the Democratic Incumbent…now that just looks bad.

I think all political debaters, product promoters, attorneys, teachers, scientists, and students in exams should take advantage of lie detection technology…and that’s the truth!