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Did TV change American Families?

By lovejunjun19 Dec 03, 2013 1123 Words
Name: Junique Wright
Date: 11-11-2013
Block: 3

Did TV change American families or Did America change TV families?

During the 1950’s commonly known TV shows like “Leave It To Beaver” depicted the perfect American household: White, suburban, breadwinning father, homemaking mother and their kids also known as, Family. Today “traditional” families have drastically changed and in accordance, so have television families. TV changed in order to stay current and gain/ maintain audience(s). In today’s society we have more working mothers, Gay parents and divorced couples than ever before and the percentages are rising every day. In the popular TV show Happily Divorced (which is about a woman married for 18 years then becoming a best friend to her husband who she just found out was gay), audiences see people living happily and not as rare and dysfunctional as that household would have seemed back then. How did America change so drastically? When did it become “OK” to be gay or divorced? America became modernized and consequently so did TV shows in order to stay current and maintain or even gain audience’s attention. In today’s world being gay, divorced or a working mother is viewed as normal but back in the 1950’s stereotypes were influential therefore such acts were viewed as abominable. Even today judgments are still being passed by the majority on how society should be run. In today’s modern world the media has a great effect on not only how people live their lives but how they communicate, react, feel and think about things and each other. For example in the movie Secondhand Lions, Walter asked to go watch TV and Garth’s response was “Ain’t got none”(IMDB.com), so in a case like this Walter had no choice but to adapt to the new society; and without television he had to resort to what was natural; what he knew prior and what he thought was right. Just by that example we can tell TV has a great impact on an individual’s viewpoint and if 1 million people watch the same show most of them are going to act on what they see and if there were one million people without televisions they would all have to write their own script. So imagine a world without TV; would it be dull or creative? I must admit it would mean a less colorful life but less color doesn’t mean gray, it means you have a chance to paint your own color; Think your own thoughts and act on your own words, it would mean more individuality. TV has a huge impingement on individuals therefore it has an immense effect on society.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day” (Unknown) accordingly so was televisions impact on the world. It did not take one day for TV to take over, it started with simple individuals then it expanded to a family. Family has one of the greatest influences over an individual. In the book ‘What’s eating Gilbert Grape’, Gilbert’s father hangs himself and it plays a huge role in his mother’s life. Bonnie Grape starts eating herself to death just like her husband; committing suicide. But not only did she eat, she watched TV; it provided her with some sort of added comfort. If there wasn’t a TV in the Grapes house the results would be much different, she would still eat but she would also probably die of boredom, the chances of her getting up and picking herself up would be much greater since there wouldn’t be 24/7 entertainment. Before TV children were more focused in school, acts of violence and bad behavior wasn’t as evident and more families actually ate dinner together around a table; these changes may seem minuscule but they exhibit the extensive changes in our generations and generations to come.

In order for TV to start showing certain things they have to have the “approval” of society. Before TV could go against the Pleasantville values of sleeping in the same bed they had to be certain that majority of their audiences found it ok. In order for a show to remain on TV it has to meet the expectations of a Nielsen family and producers of movies and TV shows have that in mind. Before depicting something as extensive as family, directors and producers must first be aware of the various family types in order not to offend. With that being said we can conclude that America also has a say in what is broadcasted through that moving box. It is now safe to state that television has a great impact on the lives of Americans as do Americans on television. Did TV change America or did America change TV? Was the change good or bad? TV brought entertainment into our homes and also with this came the media. Technology brought more entertainment through Television and slowly (around the 60s) things began to change a little each year. Movies were more blood and guts and at first it was rather entertaining, but, it also changed our culture as we know it. Also, too much media and therefore we were far more aware of what was not only going on in our own country, but countries around the world. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Control is a good thing and we can mix entertainment on the Television, but limiting our use of it. We've become a fat society in Canada and the U.S. and it's simply the lack of exercise and junk food eating. It’s fragmented many families. Dad wants to watch his program (usually sports) while mom wants to watch a movie, and then the kids want their DVD games or movie. Many families have ceased to communicate with each other as it's easier to watch TV. The change television caused in America and for families was enormous. From generation to generation change is still being portrayed through family and society; the change is ambiguous, it could be perceived as good to some yet bad to others. But the facts still remains, TV had a huge impact on the world. Television is also impacted by society, we the people (Famous quote) determine what is shown on television and what is viewed by our families. But which plays a greater role, TV on family or family on TV? Personally, I think TV has a greater influence on families, we watch the TV the TV doesn’t necessarily watch us, so we act on what we see and we model the behaviors we see, how much we model is up to us but some way, somehow television not only impacted a family, it impacted a nation and a generation.

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