Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, Lassie, Rin-Tin-Tin, The Roy Rogers Show and other 1950s television shows are viewed by many in our modern times as unrealistic and lacking the portrayal of the seamier side of family life. Others complain that these shows are preachy and moralistic. Another common criticism is the lack of people of color, LGBT folks, and other marginalized parts of our culture were not represented or, if so, were shown in a bad light.
While those criticisms have validity, these types of shows did provide a model for the way life should be, not as it actually was. Many children’s stories follow that same formula, showing a life lesson, and the best we can be.
I am reminded of the question posed to a person in conflict after an elder told the story of the two wolves, one evil and one good. He asked an elder which wolf would he become – the evil, vicious one that would support his urge for acquiring wealth and power at any cost, or the one that would help him become a kinder, forgiving, and more helpful human being? The classic answer was – “whichever wolf you choose to feed”.
If we support shows, music, and news that feed the dark wolf, is it any wonder that we see that darkness manifesting itself within our society in ways that horrify us? We can focus on mass shootings, racial tensions, haters on the rise, and radical political views, tearing family and friends apart. If we do, we’re feeding the “evil wolf” and it is bearing fruit.
While the above statement may seem like a grim view of our current offerings for entertainment and news, I would like to dispel any fears that it is so. We now have shows that portray that similar best ideal view of how life should be, with the addition of inclusiveness.
One example of a TV show portraying balance is “Blue Bloods”, starring Tom Selleck as the head of a family of police officers, including an assistant district attorney, and their children. Each episode centers around issues currently facing our society, and solving them in a balanced way. The family gathers each time at the table for dinner, starting with prayer, and during the meal, having a discussion of what they faced during the day, and their effort to feed the “good wolf”. It is just one example of the many entertainment contributions that are hopeful, uplifting and inclusive.
As far as the news media, I don’t have a very good opinion of which wolf they prefer to feed. I would love to see them go back to a time when they reported the exact and full facts, without verbiage designed to alarm and produce fear. If you count the times they use the word “feared” in reporting, you will see what I mean. It is very subtle, but the media uses many negative terms at every opportunity. It’s not just that they forward bad news, they embellish, it in order to create emotional reactions. As Sergeant Joe Friday commonly said in “Dragnet”, “Just the facts mam”. If embellishment is done, it should be the good news that gets it. Prefaced with “happily” or “joyfully” would be uplifting. Yes, we need to know the facts about bad events happening in our world, otherwise how would we know what needs to be solved? During a broadcast of bad news, how about equal time given to possible or current solutions?
Which wolf are you going to feed today?