Television viewing choices were limited when I was a little girl. “Father Knows Best,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “I Love Lucy” and “Bonanza” were the kinds of shows we watched. I loved “The Flintstones” because it was telecast in color. I imagine some of you younger readers have never even heard of some of the programs I can remember!
It was a mild, “G”-rated television world. Even the long-married couples were shown to have bedrooms with two single beds. Everyone was modestly clothed. Sex was not mentioned. Inappropriate remarks were not allowed, and disrespectful comments came only from the shady characters who would “see the light” by the end of the show or be run out of town. Neighbors were kind to one another and most people had a smile on their face. Just think “The Andy Griffith Show,” and you get the idea of what programs were standard fare.
Radio in those days was a different animal. Announcers — well, they announced. They told us what songs were up next, and who sang them. Their words were not crude, ill-intentioned, or filled with sexual innuendo. Most of the airtime included music, with an announcer only interjecting here and there.
There were movies with unsuitable language or content, but they were few, and far between. Most were safe for family consumption and included a cartoon and a newsreel feature before the main event.
Things have changed since I was a young girl. Gentility and decency were once the rule. They have now become the exception. And somehow, much of our society’s standards of daily living have dropped as the media standards are lowered. It has marked our towns, our neighborhoods, and our families. The over-exposure of ill-conceived programs and printed materials seems to be matched by the over-exposure of bodies and tainted takes on wisdom and righteousness.
Maybe it is time to say, “Enough, already!”
Elder Marvin J. Ashton shared wise insight when he said:
Consider the difference in children who are cuddled and snuggled by parents at bedtime as they listen to stories from good books, and then kneel at their bedside in prayer, as compared to those who go to bed after having viewed a violent television program. (Ensign, November 1977, p. 72.)
That was in 1977! I am grateful for parents who took the time to settle me in at night, read or tell a story, and make time for prayers before I drifted off to sleep. How much more may we need those habits now, in order to remember that “everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil.” (Moroni 7:13, 17.)
I taught my children to blame me whenever they needed to make an exit and may not feel at ease in saying, “I don’t like what is going on around here.” One night I got a call from one of my sons. It took very little time to realize that he was in an uncomfortable situation and wanted out. I told him he “had” to come home right away with no excuses. That gave him the chance to say, “Mom, do I have to?” “Mom, come on. ”
He was not comfortable enough to tell his friends, “I don’t like this” but he had an “out” — me. I drove over, picked him up, and we headed safely home. How many times they stood up on their own, or how many times they succumbed to the enticing or racy influences, I do not know. But at least we had a plan to bolster them.
I remember, as a young girl, a new movie that had an ‘X’ rating. Its content dealt with subject matter that, up to that time, had never been addressed. In only a few years, that rating was changed to a “PG13.” Still later, it was given a “PG” rating. Nothing had been changed in the script. Nothing had been added or edited. The system had changed, and the standards of decency had been lowered to such a degree that the film became more acceptable.
Today’s movies, billboards, magazines, and television shows — even commercials — are degrading, suggestive, and sometimes even jaw-dropping in their offensiveness. Media — which may be used to teach correct principles, warm the heart, and remind us of goodness — are very often used as a tool of the adversary. It seems we are getting a lot more exposure from the media than we need!
While many would argue that I am over-reacting, I find strength in President James E. Faust’s remarks, given in a General Conference in 1981:
The desire for profitable gain and popularity in the entertainment world has unmasked in the most appealing way all of the evils of the human race. The most revolting practices and perversions have been masqueraded and even urged upon our inexperienced young people by some seeking to seductively merchandise the evil side of human behavior. Consciences seem seared with a hot iron; spiritual cells seem closed. ( Ensign , May 1981, p.8.)
We have free agency. Among the choices we may make are the things we watch and listen to — the things we allow in our homes, on our television sets, on our mp3s and in our minds and hearts.
The gospel standards indicate a safe compass to chart a clean, refined life. It is often diametrically opposed to the standards offered in much of our current mediums of entertainment.
Gratefully, there are many who actively engage in protecting goodness:
- Thanks to such filmmakers as Kieth Merrill and Scot Swofford, who care to use their abilities to craft suitable and uplifting entertainment.
- Thanks to such individuals of any age who say, “Enough!” and aggressively (and creatively) protect themselves and those they love.
- Thanks for President Thomas S. Monson, and those leaders like him, who lovingly counsel us like this:
Whatever you read, listen to , or watch makes an impression on you … Don’t be afraid to walk out of a move, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what’s being presented does not met your Heavenly Father’s standards. In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don’t’ see it, don’t read it, don’t participate (Ensign, November 1990, p.46).
Clearly, we can shut the television off, walk out of a movie, or leave a room when the influence chases the Spirit away. But any new building blocks that might fortify our minds, hearts, and homes would be great. If you are feeling, like I do, that we live in a world of media overexposure — on a lot of levels — share your ideas.
We could all benefit from learning things that work for you. Enough, already!