Television is quite messed up today, but it has become what it is mainly because of the viewer. After all, who responds to the titillation and the violence? Who rushes out to buy the product they see on the ads? We do.

Advertisers and programmers use their sleaze not because they want a nation of whores and streetfighters, but because we let sleaze color our judgment (think: if violence lowered sales or ratings, would you use it to sell?). And to them, to sell is to live; for too many of us, to buy is to live.

The only power strong enough, the only change thorough enough, is that which comes from the Spirit’s work in us. And, it goes beyond rebirth experiences; it requires that we allow Jesus to change our whole way of viewing the world, and establish his lordship over our desires.

Even that isn’t enough; it’s important that others come to know God and be changed. And, when we see violent or hypersexed advertising on TV shows, we shouldn’t watch and shouldn’t buy. Most important, we must control our own use of the television, so that it doesn’t take up the time we need to spend with each other.

From a CAM Art Center (Bayshore, N.Y.) interview, by reporter Robert Longman.

We can’t expect television to be preacher, teacher and policeman to the nation; it is not there to keep people in line. Those who would use it to that end are the ones from whom we have the most to fear. But there is something unsettling about the way television has abdicated the old values. It’s as if, somewhere along the way, the Judeo-Christian ethic became “controversial.” Or at least unfashionable.

—TOM SHALES

Washington Post television critic

A Plea For Impoverished Children

This is not, as the title might lead you to believe, a plea for food to be sent to ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: