Media’s choice: much good or grave harm?
I agree with Nestor Torre when he wrote about the controversy (and even scandal)-oriented weekly drama show, “Magpakailanman” (“Controversy-oriented TV shows go for the jugular,” Saturday Special, 8/2/14). Its recent episodes dramatized “hot” or “touchy” topics, such as a mother-and-son team of abortionists, a person with both female and male reproductive organs, and two married women-friends who swapped partners. In its eager desire to attract viewers, the TV show could really get a reputation of being exploitative.
I believe that the media can do much good to society, if only they would be “inspired by the ethical criterion of respect for the truth and for the dignity of the human person,” as St. John Paul II wrote in his message for the 2004 World Communications Day, “The Media and the Family: A Risk and A Richness.” But they also have the “capacity to do grave harm to families by presenting an inadequate or even deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion, and on morality.
“The family and family life are all too often inadequately portrayed in the media. Infidelity, sexual activity outside of marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are depicted uncritically, while positive support is at times given to divorce, contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. Such portrayals, by promoting causes inimical to marriage and the family, are detrimental to the common good of society.
“It is not so easy to resist commercial pressures or the demands of conformity to secular ideologies, but that is what responsible communicators must do. The stakes are high, since every attack on the fundamental value of the family is an attack on the true good of humanity.”
Media practitioners and professional communicators have great power to shape ideas and influence behavior. And with this power, “they should recognize that they have a moral responsibility not only to give families all possible encouragement, assistance and support to that end, but also to exercise wisdom, good judgment and fairness in their presentation of issues involving sexuality, marriage, and family life.”
In his message, St. John Paul II also mentioned the responsibility of parents in regulating the use of media in the home. “This would include planning and scheduling media use, strictly limiting the time children devote to media, making entertainment a family experience, putting some media entirely off limits, and periodically excluding all of them for the sake of other family activities. Above all, parents should give good example to children by their own thoughtful and selective use of media.”
I hope that the TV program, “Magpakailanman,” and other shows would rethink and improve their content, and consider their “enormous positive potential for promoting sound human and family values, and thus contributing to the renewal of society.”
—GLECY G. GAMBOA,
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