Television has become a ubiquitous part of everyday life. Frequent television viewing changes people’s worldviews without their noticing it. Research conducted by the Media Research Center has demonstrated this point. For instance, the more people watch television, the less committed they are to traditional virtues such as honesty, reliability, and fairness, and the more lenient their attitudes toward issues related to sexual morality such as sex outside of marriage, abortion and homosexuality—are likely to be.
Although the percentages of two sets of people—light and heavy TV-viewers who say they believe in God—are almost the same (85 to 88 percent), the more one watches television, the more difficult it is for the person to value religious principles. For example, when asked in a questionnaire to choose between “People should always live by God’s teachings and principles under all circumstances” or “People should combine their personal set of morals and values with God’s moral codes,” those who watch more television tend to choose the latter.
From these figures, it can be generally concluded that television predisposes people to moral relativism.
Television has been an integral part of daily life since the 1950s. Not only do TV series and movies achieve a similar effect in molding people’s values, but talk shows, situation comedies (sitcoms), and even documentaries also quietly inculcate their audiences with all sorts of distorted ideas through continual repetition every day.
Take talk shows for example. Television studios are especially keen to invite guests whose opinions or behavior contradict traditional values or whose lives are fraught with conflict, or to invite “experts” to discuss some controversial issues of morality. The guests are encouraged to “bravely” disclose the “deep” or “complex” problems in their personal lives. The host, experts or the audience at the scene give different “options” as solutions to the problems. To ensure the popularity of the program, usually no moral judgment is made. In this way, many programs become a venue for displaying corrupt and distorted behaviors and perspectives. People have gradually come to agree that the values they used to uphold do not apply under some special circumstances, which in fact negates the existence of universal principles.
Many primetime television programs are filled with despicable and distasteful content that is hard to watch. Some program hosts, including female hosts, take pride in swearing. Quite a number of programs indoctrinate people with vulgar tastes and anti-culture or anti-tradition content via entertainment, while the audience is in a state of relaxation. As time passes, people do not feel alarmed at all and even come to recognize and appreciate this material, thus eroding their moral thinking.
Sitcoms are used to normalize deviated values and behaviors that are actually rarely seen in people’s daily lives by airing them repeatedly on television.
Ben Shapiro made an example of a scene from the episode called “The One With the Birth,” which appeared in the popular U.S. sitcom series Friends. Ross’s lesbian ex-wife, Carol, is having his baby. Ross is understandably concerned that his child will be growing up in a lesbian family. While Ross is feeling perturbed, Phoebe says to him: “When I was growing up, you know my dad left, and my mother died, and my stepfather went to jail, so I barely had enough pieces of parents to make one whole one. And here’s this little baby who has like three whole parents who care about it so much that they’re fighting over who gets to love it the most. And it’s not even born yet. It’s just, it’s just the luckiest baby in the whole world.”
Ross immediately feels relieved and reassured by her perspective. As Shapiro writes, the episode portrays “pregnant lesbians and three-parent households as not only normal, but admirable.”
Modern medicine has discovered that human brains consist of five different types of brainwaves. Two among them are brainwaves found in the waking state of consciousness: alpha (α) waves and beta (β) waves. When people are busy working, their dominant brain waves are β waves. They exhibit an enhanced ability to analyze and tend to use logical thinking. A person having a debate would exhibit predominantly β brainwaves. In other words, people in the state where β waves are dominant are more alert and less gullible. However, when people are relaxed and α waves dominate, their emotions take the lead, and their analytical ability weakens. When people watch television, they are not prepared for serious thinking, but are instead relaxed and impressionable. Under such circumstances, people tend to be subliminally persuaded by the themes and views represented in the television program.
Research shows that close to two-thirds of media programming, including children’s programs, contain scenes of violence. Misleading sexual content is also all over TV programs and movies. Following sex education classes in schools, young people list the media as the second-most important source for learning about sexual activity.
A copious amount of research shows clearly that violent content in the media desensitizes young people to violence and increases their chance of committing violent acts later in life. The media has had a very bad influence on youth, increasing the tendency for violence, underage sexual activity, and teen pregnancy. Girls who often see programs containing depictions of sexual activity are twice as likely to be pregnant within three years compared to girls who rarely watch such programs. Media programs also increase the risk of sexual assault and engagement in dangerous behavior.
A deluge of pornographic and sexual content directly attacks social values and tradition. As one scholar pointed out: “The media are so compelling and so filled with sex, it’s hard for any kid, even a critic to resist. … I think of the media as our true sex educators.” Due to media influence, sex outside of marriage, adultery, and other behaviors have been taken for granted as parts of a normal lifestyle—as long as all parties are willing, there is nothing to it.
In the book Primetime Propaganda, Shapiro summarized nearly a hundred influential American TV series. He found that as time progressed, these programs run the range of accepting liberalism, promoting atheism and belittling faith, promoting sex and violence, promoting feminism, accepting homosexuality and transsexuals, rejecting morality, rejecting the traditional relationships between husband and wife or parent and child, strongly promoting leftist viewpoints, and establishing ruthless antiheroes devoid of sympathy as the protagonists. Their evolution is a process of continuous decay in moral values. This type of anti-traditional lifestyle has had major influence over the mindset of the general public, in particular young people.
Many so-called music television shows unreservedly promote softcore porn and even perverse sexual behavior among young audiences. Since the film-rating system was implemented, many pornographic films can be sold as long as they are labeled with an “X” rating. As technology developed, these indecent programs went from underground to general consumption, and could easily be obtained at movie-rental stores, through paid TV channels, and in hotels.
Television programs begin polluting people at very young ages. Cartoons feature ugly characters or large amounts of violence. Other children’s programs are loaded with hidden themes of progressivism and liberalism, such as teaching homosexuality under the name of “cultural diversity.” They use phrases like “There’s only one person in this whole world like you” to foster unearned self-esteem and the concept of accepting all people regardless of their immoral behaviors.
Certainly, few Hollywood producers had any sort of formal agenda to instill their audiences with corrupt ideologies. But when the program producers themselves agree with the concepts of progressivism and liberalism, then these corrupt ideologies will inevitably end up in the programs. The real plan is diabolical, and media workers who stray too far from the divine become the evil’s pawns.
From Chapter Thirteen: Hijacking the Media