Sunday, December 2, 2007

To Catch a Predator ... quality holiday entertainment?

Recently, we celebrated Thanksgiving, which gave us all an opportunity to do an inventory regarding the parts of our lives for which we should be thankful.

We should do this more than once a year, but if it takes a holiday like this to remind us to do so, it isn't the end of the world.

During the quieter moments of the holiday weekend, I spent some time flipping through the television channels to see how the networks were filling up their programming time.

After all, viewers are on the run a lot during this time and watch little television. Therefore, television networks rarely unveil new programming on long holiday weekends. They are content to trot out re-runs or show a lot of football.

However, the folks at the MSNBC cable network must have just thrown in the towel when trying to come up with ideas of what to show.

On Thanksgiving Day, they showed a long marathon of documentaries about life in prison. It was show after show of interviews with inmates and prison personnel about day-to-day life behind bars.

I guess I have to give MSNBC credit for creative thinking because watching just a little of these shows did make me feel thankful. Being in prison is about the last place I would like to be on Thanksgiving so these shows did make me feel good from that perspective.

However, despite a silver lining of good regarding these shows, I thought MSNBC's choice of programming was odd.

Until the next day, when they showed a marathon of programming that dealt with another group of folks who have made really bad decisions.

This marathon dealt with adults who try to entrap children into meeting them by using the internet.

Titled "To Catch a Predator," the program basically was a sting in which adults surf the internet looking to chat with teenagers and entice them into meeting for sex. Then when they show up for their meeting, they get arrested.

I had previously seen this show so I was familiar with what they were trying to do. The internet is a great creation, but like all things, it can be used for really bad deeds. And I believe most of us would agree that an adult cruising for kids on-line is a huge misuse of this technology.

So, MSNBC aired hour after hour of these programs in which the plot varied little.

Man after man was brought in before hidden cameras in which they were interviewed by journalist Chris Hansen. Then, he identified himself and cameramen swooped upon the unsuspecting men, leading to their arrest.

I agree that these programs do some good because they shed light on the dangers that exist on the internet.

However, the more I watched these programs, the more I felt their goal was to titillate instead of inform. The sexual talk was graphic on these programs that left little to the imagination.

After watching a couple of these programs, I couldn't help but wonder why they would stoop to such programming on Thanksgiving weekend.

Just a few years ago, it seemed like films such as "It's A Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed dominated the weekend. But to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times have changed.

When it comes to television programming, nothing is sacred anymore. Television programmers strive to titillate us, and if they are willing to do this on Thanksgiving, then don't expect any boundaries during other holidays.

Can we expect "To Catch a Predator" marathons on Christmas Day or Eve?

How about Easter? Most folks don't understand why that holiday is celebrated in the first place, so why not serve up some programming to hypnotize the masses?

Television has been referred to as the "great American narcotic machine" and I believe the examples I cited earlier re-enforce that thought.

If we are content to sit and watch hour after hour of this stuff, we really are acting like somebody addicted to a drug.

And that isn't the fault of the television networks. It is ours.

2 comments:

Mister Jimmy said...

Well said.
And regarding "Predator", I also question the nobility of their intent.

Joltin' Django said...

Check this out:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/08/08/DDEGREAI31.DTL