Wednesday, September 5, 2007

tv is fun when you're sick

I’ve been sick. Mitch had it first and I thought I’d escaped with only a little cough, but then Monday when I got home from school my little cough turned its faucet on and wouldn’t turn off. I coughed until I had no voice, then called the doctor all hoarse and raspy to ask what a pregnant woman could take so I could at least stop coughing and sleep. The fever kicked in that night too, for me and Frances both. The latter meant that she was up every hour or so, crying and generally being miserable, wanting to be held, rocked. She’d sleep a bit longer when the tylenol kicked in. Today I called in sick to school. The fever’s gone but exhaustion has taken over and mostly today I just lay on the floor while Frances looked at her books beside me. At 6pm walked 2 doors down to a neighbor’s to return something, the first time I’d left the house all day.

Part of what this means is that I feel like I have no ideas to discuss here on my blog. I think one has to leave the house, interact in the world, to have ideas and discussions. Instead, I watch TV. Oprah, Ellen, syndicated drivel that passes as entertaining if you’re tired enough. Actually, I will bring up one issue here: the current trend in sitcom families. We all know that in the 50s and 60s family life on TV was portrayed as two parents, Dad going to work, Mom staying home. Dad generally was fair but stern and Mom was nurturing. But check out what’s out there now! Raymond, King of Queens, According to Jim, several others—they all portray the father as a child, someone who screws up constantly and evades responsibility, who tries to “get away” with things, worried that his wife will catch him and disapprove as a mother would. And the wife succumbs to this role…! She in fact treats him like the child he is. She is the one that runs the house, who is responsible, who cleans up the messes and talks to him about doing the right thing and holds everything together. Why is this the going stereotype? What woman wants to play mother to not only her kids but her husband too? Why don’t any of these women demand that their husbands behave like adults??? I don’t get it—what I wanted most out of marriage is a partner, a partner to help me with decisions, with the hard stuff, with holding it all together. This is why I got rid of many many of the guys I dated before my husband, for this reason exactly. Perhaps there aren’t many adult guys out there anymore. But why would that be? One reason, I’d offer, is that examples of the current sitcom kind are what are being presented to the young male population. These are the examples we’re presenting of how to be a man. What else would we expect? This is where the discussion begins, I suppose, of whether media molds society or simply mirrors it. The answer, of course, is both. But just because the media sees something out there to mirror, doesn’t mean it should. Through presenting this stereotype, network TV is not only mirroring what it already sees in society, but is encouraging this stereotype to flourish.

There was a time when I didn’t watch TV for these reasons. I didn’t want to be susceptible to the damaging messages the media sends out. Now I feel that I’m an intelligent person and can discern the messages I want to take on personally. And Everybody Loves Raymond really is funny.

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