Saturday, April 28, 2007

TV Gripes

WARNING: This post contains adult content, outrageous venting and references to sex. If you are related to me by blood or marriage; or not related to me but are likely to be offended and/or have a problem with me discussing, alluding to, viewing documentaries on or actually possibly thinking about engaging in the "s" activity, I recommend that you stop reading pretty soon. I mean, I will start innocently enough, but you never know when one of those references might just catch you off guard.

Anyhow, so we are fans of The Biggest Loser up (or down) here, for good reason.

For a start, it occupied a reasonable timeslot. I mean, I once did attempt the "watch news with my daughter" experiment, but the reality is that news is not child friendly these days. After 3 days of the opening being sexual assault and/or war it got binned - at least with TBL you don't lose too much innocence.

And then there is the message of obesity being shoved down our children's throats. (Was I wrong, or was there one moment in history where it was felt too much emphasis on body image might damage children? It appears that moment has passed.) Kids these days are being force-fed the anti-obese message. I agree that in many instances a wakeup call is needed - however I think that the junk food industry and the knowledge-wanting parents would be better targets.

Anyhow, some children reflect that message and equate it with their mothers (who I might remind you may be a little more generous than the average Jeanie, but then you have some skinny Jeanies out there to bring the bell curve back). So it pays for children to see people who are a bit bigger than their mothers getting trim, taut and terrific. Even if for no other reason than to give the mother the comeback "if I lost that much weight I would weigh less than you" - works all round really.

So anyway, as of last week, we got a reprieve from later bedtimes because this season is over, and the season of inane contriviality programming is upon us once again. I love it when Big Brother (Jaycee's take here) returns to our screens - because for us it means the tv is turned off and we can have a peaceful runup to dreamland.

However, extracting those last few pounds of flesh, Channel 10 aired the Grand Finale at the child unfriendly time of 7.30 - 9.30pm on Thursday (yes, a school night) - so we taped it, and watched it last night at a reasonable time.

Now, that all had nothing to do with sex - so far so good. I mean, if I am talking about child-friendly viewing I am not talking about sex - that bit comes later - that was the outrageous venting part of this post.

Anyhow, after our fill of TBL and a sweet dreams serenade to 'Salina, V and I settled to our Friday night rituals - which, in Queensland at this time of year, includes the football - and it appears, absolutely nothing else on television.

Now, background filler - V and I met due to the mighty power of the internet (hey, we thank other entities too, but the actual power was that of the internet). In the little portions of information you give to the world, there was one section labelled "Sport". V admitted to having a liking of many things sporting, especially where speed, biff and balls were concerned (my response was "I am a good one"). Hooray he didn't put any hands up to motor sports because that was a deal breaker for me!

What about my take on ball sports? Well hey, I grew up in Central Queensland - if you didn't know the basics of Rugby League from infancy you were a pariah in the school yard. So I don't mind the occasional viewing of biff so long as it doesn't incude santimonious silence and alcoholic guzzling. I am a closet sport watcher actually - just so long as it is not machines going Vrrrroom-Vrrrroom-Vrrrroom-Vrrrroom for hours on end. So I knew what I was letting myself in for.

While the "long-distance" portion of our relationship was in full swing, footy season was nigh finished. (It actually finished the night that he met my family - great bonding experience, meet the family and watch the Grand Final!) But his move down here has coincided with the season opening, and so Friday nights are no longer (just) candlelit dinners etc, etc (you fill in the details - I get a feeling that my family are still reading.)

So where were we - oh yes, child in bed and the Broncos were getting a hiding. So anyway, we did what we could to get them over the line and resultantly missed the end of the game.

As there was little to offer on Friday night television, I thought "beauty" when I realised that the tape with TBL had a Law & Order - Criminal Intent on it. Would you believe the tape finished before we had it wrapped up. Not sure what happened - we were on the cusp of the wierd detective finangling another twist on the twisted minds of who did what to whom and why. Now, I will never know - another 45 minutes of my life just wasted!!!

Back to real time tv (I read a blog this week about TiVo and wanting to pause or replay life - if you can find it for me that would be great - don't you hate that?) - the choices were: Rugby League (Bulldogs getting flogged by the Tigers - who cares?); Aussie Rules (Port playing someone and the highlight was the rain); Big Brother Up Late (and why would you stay up with them?); JTV (normally good, but had an Anzac feature on Hack about PTSD and suicide) or a documentary from Canada about teens and sex.

While watching it, we became uncomfortable - because in about 7 years, 'Salina will be one of those 14 year olds - and we may have to deal with the sex part. And while it is 7 years away, that still seems too little time to prepare us (oh, and her) for what that will all mean.

It made me feel really old and square, watching those 14 year old girls feeling pressured into doing things to fit in and conform. I went to boarding school during those years so cannot really know, and my "release" into the evil outside was a pitted with landmines - the only difference between those naive 14 year olds and the 18 year old me was that I could legally drink.

Nowadays I am much more secure in myself and my sexuality, and I am very thankful that I have reached that part of my life. Obviously I am still a prude about talking to the internet about it all, because I can STILL feel my mother listening in!

But I wonder how to be so confident in relating to my child/young woman what I have learned over that time.

I mean, which of my mistakes should I detour around? Which of my mistakes would be useful teaching tools? Which of my mistakes to slip to her so she can make those mistakes and learn those lessons through experience?

My mother just handed me a book entitled "Everything a Teenage Girl Should Know" (not this one) when I asked too many questions - which was pretty useless, as I had read it with my sister when she got her copy 2 years before.

who/what/when/where/how and why - and do we wait for her to instigate?

It was too much - the TV had to be switched off and we had to go to bed.


Tracey said...

Don't panic just yet. Eldest here is 14 next month, and so not interested in boys and the whole sex thing. I know what you mean though.

(Btw, I was expecting something far more shocking at the end of your post!!)

jeanie said...

Trace - I may well have, but got chicken. I am much more comfortable being "out there and honest" with a poets hat on than blogger it seems in that sector.

Hmm - there is an idea.

Can't remember the reason but we had a short boy discussion the other day - 'Salina said that boys were yucky, and the most yucky one was X and he didn't like her either. lol we immediately thought there was a romance in the making!!!

Tracey said...

The eldest here still covers her eyes and groans if there is any kissy kissy on tv. She's refused to talk about the 'birds and the bees'.. despite giving her lots of openings to do so. Got the withering 'we learnt it in sex education at school, Mum'.
[Do I feel like a failure? Yes, a bit... I can only keep the channels of communication on my side open and hope. I was able to explain things to the 11 year old a few weeks back after she quoted something from somewhere which had a double entendre meaning... I didn't want her saying it naively in front of someone's parents!! Now she looks at me knowingly if there is any reference to 'that' anywhere, and I can only hope that she'll feel able to talk about 'things' when she is older... The oldest does do the knowing look as well when you see anything risqe. As for boys.. you just have to hope you've brought them up not to fall for any peer pressure in that regard.]

Jen at Semantically driven said...

You weren't as outrageous as I was expecting. I also saw most of the teenage sex thing. I think I've seen some of it before, but I was a bit shocked at how out there they were about it. I think the best we can do as parents is to try and get our kids to be self-confident and caring towards others. I was so naive at school, and beyond when I think about it.

Wes said...

If you think of it as still being her current lifetime away, i.e. another 7 years, its still ages away! Being a Dad, having girls would be so much harder, so in some respects I'm glad I have boys.

The whole Biggest Loser thing fascinates and annoys me. I love that they are trying to help people lose weight. I hate how everything is portrayed as a competition, with revenge and vengeance part of the whole game. On top of that, false expectations and unhealthy weight loss run throughout the show. I don't know anyone in the medical profession who would recommend such rapid weight loss.

jeanie said...

Thanks guys - I know I wasn't as outrageous as the warning depicted - its funny, on stage I could be a bit out there about a lot of things - but then, I knew when I was on stage that my family were not necessarily in the audience - and I know that my family don't really buy that whole immaculate conception thing and V is not into me just for my amazing cooking skills and bubbly personality - but I like them to retain a little mystery there!

I know I am crossing bridges well before we come to them - it was more the rabbit in headlights that some of the parents had on that doco that made us worry.

And I agree, Wes, about the competition aspect - the best winners were those who felt any competition was beside the point and you could actually watch their lives change.


Trust, true listening, open communication.....if these are part of your relationship with your child, things seem to work out well.

jane said...

Jeanie re TBL, we loved it for the same reasons - the kids seeing bigger people exercising, being praised for how they looked, feeling great about themselves, dispelling the stereotype of fat people as lazy and undisciplined... we also critiqued the 'rewards' for losing weight and emphasised the way the contestants felt better and healthier, rather than their changing appearances.

As for the teen issue... it is terrifying, I will admit, when you realise your daughter is facing those pressures. But that's when you see the years of groundwork beforehand paying off, when that honesty and openness begins to bear fruit. As long as you let them know you are prepared to listen, and not judge, and you give them opportunities to raise issues, you and they will be fine. They may not confide in you with everything, but they'll know you're a safe space, I promise.