Panem et Circenses
Has television become the modern opiate for the people?
(this article was written for an essay-writing class, which may explain the overall style)
Since the mid-20th century the new center of the living room, the black box thatís supposed to be our window to the world, has not only given us new views and perspectives, but it has altered the world we live in. Such a change is always problematic for it challenges the way society has to deal with its problems.
Television is made by people for people; it is produced with certain agendas and can be perceived with a certain agenda, it isnít a medium that can be dealt with in a binary way, good or bad, it has to be analyzed objectively. Like literature, there is good and bad as well as average material.
Television at its best tries to reflect real problems, deals with them on a literary basis and makes some statement of how to deal with crucial issues of society. Television at its worst just satisfies the needs of the audience and doesnít care about morals and ethics.
Is there another agenda, to pacify the demos? To keep people quiet, to make them addicted to television, make them care less about politics? Well, a lot of things can do that - amongst them commerce, sports, literature, family, religion. But television and all of those things can also make people aware of problems; never has politics been as present in peopleís minds, never has there been news as up-to-date, as real, never have the media had that much power.
Opiate? That depends on the viewer. Is television responsible for problems within society, like crime? To deny this would mean to ignore a problem, but the problem lies within society itself, television would be the indicator, the messenger - human beings are responsible for their own actions, and parents are responsible for what their children watch. Television is an easy target.
June 10th, 1998 / August 24th, 1998