Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sesame Street not so nice

Hullo there, it's me again: Sonny.

Recently, I've been taking greater interest in the thing called 'the television'. I've been ignoring it up till now since exploring the world around me seemed more urgent - but since my parents give that old box quite a bit of their attention, I figured I shouldn't neglect that part of my researches.

Here's the thing: My parents can't seem to decide whether they love it or hate it. They spend quite a lot of time making dismissive comments and panning many of the programmes ("mindless", "one-dimensional") and even use sarcastic tags like "the idiot box" to refer to it. Yet at the same time, they also seem keen to use it as a form of mind control.

Well, okay, mind control may be a little harsh. But they have bought some DVDs featuring a group of colourful weirdos who live in a place called "Sesame Street" and they've been plumping me in front of the TV and waiting expectantly. So far, I've not been too impressed with these discs: You may find it hard to believe it, but one long segment was basically a full-on musical interlude in which a strange nobleman with fangs, monsters and sundry animals sang up a storm over "The Number 'G'". It's true, I swear it (although I'm not sure what 'swearing' is all about and my parents aren't saying).

If I'm going to be charitable, I suppose I could assume that the TV is something that can "be used for good and ill", as my father sometimes says when he's being especially sententious. It can fulfil some sort of educational function - which is why they can't wait for me to be sucked into the adventures of some puppets and an oversized chicken - but people can also stare in front of it and swap mindless titillation for critical thinking. Secretly, though, I suspect my parents want primarily to use the box as a cheap babysitter. The idea is that I'll be utterly absorbed (picking up words and numbers as a sort of useful by-product) and leave them to do whatever it is they would rather do. I'm not sure whether I ought to be insulted or amused.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be able to seize control of the TV at some point when my parents aren't alert and look for something that's really interesting. Mum and Pa are getting to be very cagey about what they'll watch when I'm in the room; they don't want me to be 'influenced'. Look, either what you see on TV is utterly fantastical, with no relation to reality (in which case I'd found out soon enough) or it is channelling truth, however painful - and so shouldn't be screened from me. Isn't that obvious enough?

Life seems pretty straightforward for a baby.