A potential employer has called me in for an interview. I really want this job. What will I wear? I have a business suit for this purpose, and worn with an understated top, modest jewelry and matching accessories, it is the appropriate uniform for the occasion. I will appear to be a responsible, sober, capable person who takes this job seriously. This is not the time to express my preference for a roomy sleep shirt and bare feet. I know how to make a good impression.
How we are exposed to things creates impressions. The frequency, the popularity, the acceptability seem to grow proportionately. I remember a time when a boy with an earring was a rarity, a rebellious type to be avoided. Now? I’ve seen guys with dangly earrings as well as holes as big as quarters in their lobes. And tattoos? I’d heard stories growing up about crusty, tattooed sailors. It wasn’t considered to be suitable for nice folks. Now they’re all the rage.
First impressions count—it’s not just a worn adage. The subtlety of impressions cannot be emphasized enough. They get worn into our brains, drip by drip, until an impression is formed. Like water on a rock, with time enough, a path can be carved. The Grand Canyon proves this theory.
Impressions are also formed by the media. What we consume as humor and entertainment become realities. Like mouthy, bratty, know-it-all kids. Remember the fantasy of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show? I can’t imagine Opie being mouthy without consequences. Or Richie on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Nowadays children on sitcoms mouth off and are bratty, and that is considered normal. Not in my house, honey. If my kids had been as fresh as those on TV, they’d have had what to be upset about.
What happens when the media steps past a societal boundary, more than just a breach of good taste? Saturday Night Live last week ran a skit that I thought pushed the boundary too hard. Here’s what I sent to NBC as a comment on the show:
DESPICABLE. That’s the “World’s Most Evil Invention” skit from 5/20/17. Child molestation must NEVER be exploited for humor, never mind ironic use. Yes, the behavior is really, really evil, but it’s no laughing matter. When SNL uses child abuse for humorous purposes, it diminishes the horror of the act, the level of sickness it embodies. Child sexual abuse should be verboten, like rape, making fun of handicapped people, or even saying the “N-word.” Push the envelope, but use restraint.
There are certain things we should not joke about or hint at in humorous settings. I draw the line at child sexual abuse. I shudder to think that this evil act can be made as acceptable as tattoos. I don’t think I’m over-reacting. The more people are exposed to things, the more “normal” they seem and the less sensitive they become to those topics. I like to think that we are a society that wants to be good and do right. In order to do that, we need to make the right impression on ourselves. Think about that. How do we do that?
The media have a lot of power. As I’ve said before, whether you love him or revile him, Donald Trump is the President of the United States. Most of the photos I’ve seen of the President show a snarling, warped visage. The camera seems always trained on him mid-grimace. Perhaps if the media were to show him smiling, some of the rancor would diminish.
Likewise, if the media were to treat actions like rape, sexual abuse, sexual trafficking, child molestation, death by gunshot, and other acts of horror seriously and not gloss over them, perhaps there would be more attention paid to the plight of the victims.
Just saying. I’m really worked up about this topic and there is no room for humor about it. There are some things that cannot become commonplace or humorous.