TV is no respecter of children. It beams nonstop what can only charitably be described as dead-end conduct: glorification of sex, violence, drugs, egoism - just add your pet concerns to the list.
Last weekend was the Super Bowl. Is there anything bigger on TV? I watched the game with cousins and friends.
One dad brought his son. For the boy, this was not just any Sunday afternoon watching TV. This was the big time - with the men. Anthropologists talk about imprinting values on the young. He was going to be "tattooed."
But there were surprises to watching the Super Bowl that I hadn't anticipated - and this young guy picked them up, even if he doesn't realize it for years.
Serendipitously, we were a group of football fans who also work in the media: TV, radio or newspapers. That made us, professionally, interested in the commercials as much as the game. And we talked about the message, the content, delivery, music rights, and residuals. And we point blank discussed whether they were manipulative. There was real conversation about the success or failure of each of the million-dollar commercials.
Even more encouraging, during the game three other fathers routinely picked up the phone and called a son or daughter (in distant cities but also watching the game) and talked with them. The call was about the game, yes, but of course much more than the game. The call said: "I'm thinking of you, I'm close to you, and I delight in sharing a bond of love with you."
No matter what confusion the pop culture puts out, for adult or child, this young football fan saw connections between fathers and children that outweighed the Super Bowl.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society