I once knew a head writer for Melrose Place, and the loopier and more brazenly superficial the show's plot and character contortions became, the closer they got to how this crazywoman really saw the world. It's a realization that's stuck with me, and I always wince when people talk about what some TV show or other "means" or "says" about "our culture." Given the rareified hothouse of talent that creates them and the self-interested media channels that promote them, I see TV shows more as a mirror of their writer/producer's souls, not mine.
So excuse me if I don't lose much sleep over Ginia Bellafante's theory that
Television has become an extremely inhospitable place for middle-class children, and in some sense, for the demanding ideals by which they are now raised - a gory receptacle for any and all of our collectively sublimated parental ambivalence.All it tells me is that I should be extra sympathetic if the kid ever brings home a damaged little friend who's daddy writes for Law & Order: SVU.
Against our new universe of Humvee-inspired strollers, television constructs a parallel one, in which children are routinely maimed, killed, abused, mocked, mistreated and kept central - but according to a contravening morality. Sometimes actual harm is averted, but the message is always clear...children are trouble, make trouble, provoke trouble.
Children, Apples of Parents' Eyes, Face Arrows on TV [nyt]