Photo by Camera baba' aka Udit Kulshrestha
You hear a lot about how the media potrays super-skinny models and they make poor role models for young women.
Today I turned on the TV and there was a cartoon with an obese girl in it. Interesting, I thought, they’re trying to portray reality. Then I noticed that every other character had a waist the size of their arm. (Literally, I paused and checked. The male characters had muscular arms and so had slightly bigger waists. The girls all had thin arms and ridiculously thin waists.) So there were a whole bunch of super skinny characters plus one obese girl and one obese boy.
What kind of body image message is that sending?
I just read an interesting article by Clay Shirky, Gin, Television and Social Surplus. He says that we have a social surplus right now. In the early industrial revolution, people had surplus time, so they drank gin. He says we eventually figured out how to use our time with more education, public libraries and museums. We had another social surplus around World War II and the 40 hour work week and we used the extra time to watch TV. Clay Shirky argues that we are just now beginning to use some of that time more productively in producing knowledge As an example, he says if we used 1% of our TV watching time writing content, we’d produce the equivalent of Wikipedia ever year!
The Internet-connected population watches roughly a
trillion hours of TV a year. That’s about five times the size of the
annual U.S. consumption. One per cent of that is 100 Wikipedia projects per year
worth of participation.
He makes a call for every content producer (like tv) to have a mechanism for users to interact, produce and share knowledge. Here’s his story to prove his point:
was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one
of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter
watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she
jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems
like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is
really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing.
She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, "What
you doing?" And she stuck her head out from behind the screen
and said, "Looking for the mouse."
Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships
broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not
be worth sitting still for.
How much of your free time do you spend watching tv? How much do you spend producing something?
TV! This latest study found
that watching TV lowers melatonin levels which can create all sorts of
nasty side effects in children. This study (as others) linked TV
watching in kids to:
- trouble sleeping
- eye problems
- lower melatonin levels
- early puberty
In adults, "the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
increases with each extra daily hour of television viewing among people
aged 20 to 60."
Watching TV must give people immense pleasure … otherwise I can’t
imagine why they would expose themselves and their kids to so much of
it. We spend nine months of pregnancy trying to eat right, drink
no alcohol, get all sorts of prenatal tests and then we plop our
toddlers down in front of another round of SpongeBob or Thomas the Tank
Engine without a second thought.
We are watching CSI Miami and Frank is having a hard time … he wants me to know that there is no Ruger 10/22 .223 caliber gun. This isn’t the first time they’ve talked about a gun that Frank says doesn’t exist.
He even went and got a shell that goes into his Ruger 10/22 and a .223 shell and showed me how they are very different sizes. One is twice as big as the other.
Picture by Robby-T.