This in­for­ma­tion age is fraught with sex and dragons and memes, not Madonna’s rock­ets


The East African - - OPINION -

Ah, chil­dren. Those sweet in­no­cent gifts to the world with their vul­ner­a­ble lit­tle tab­ula rasa minds. It is so­ci­ety’s role to help guide them into adult­hood by shield­ing them from the grim cor­rup­tions of in­ap­pro­pri­ate en­ter­tain­ment. That’s def­i­nitely the best thing about lo­cal tele­vi­sion toe­ing the line with our rules and reg­u­la­tions for broad­cast. Mh-hm. In a world where the line be­tween en­ter­tain­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, work and re­al­ity are blurred, we should de­pend on the val­ues in­her­ited from our fore­moth­ers and... well, fore­fa­thers, to help our chil­dren nav­i­gate the 21st cen­tury.

I to­tally “ap­prove.” Heh. Lest you think I am against cen­sor­ship, please be as­sured that I am. Which is why one of the few en­ter­tain­ments left to lib­eral eaves­drop­pers like me in this in­creas­ingly cleaned-up town is lis­ten­ing to talk about what young folks should and should not con­sume via me­dia. Some­times it is al­most as in­for­ma­tive as wit­ness­ing what said young ones ac­tu­ally ad­mit to, or get caught, con­sum­ing. Grow­ing older has its mild plea­sures, I guess?

See, back in my day, life was sim­ple. Barely any TV that didn’t in­volve news broad­casts by sten­to­rian old men. Sup­ple­mented by smug­gled Tom and Jerry video cas­settes shared across the neigh­bour­hood... wait, what’s the statute of lim­i­ta­tions on this kind of con­fes­sion? You know Mwal­imu banned TVS and en­ter­tain­ment un­til some­time in the 1990s. Let’s, uh, let’s keep this be­tween us. One had to work re­ally hard to find age-in­ap­pro­pri­ate me­dia to con­sume. Ahem.

Any­ways, it was all ter­ri­bly whole­some. Bill Cosby was the guy and the Sound of Mu­sic and ngonjera and yes it is true, my grand­par­ents used to tell us sto­ries by fire­light. Ha­dithi njoo, uongo njoo, utamu kolea. Then we all found out that Mr Cosby’s rou­tine also had a bit about Span­ish Fly and now in 2017 he is strug­gling to set­tle cases of drug rape, and Hol­ly­wood is col­laps­ing in a mi­asma of sex­ual abuse scan­dals thanks to at least one un­shaven dude who re­minds you of the wet-mouthed un­cle you never wanted to be left alone with, ever? Like I said, whole­some.

Or is it? It in­trigues me, this idea of pro­ject­ing chil­dren back­wards into the idyl­lic pasts that we didn’t have in the hopes that this will build a so­cially utopian fu­ture for com­ing gen­er­a­tions that has noth­ing to do with the re­al­i­ties of adult life. That said, I am a staunch be­liever in the wis­dom of young minds and the ne­ces­sity of in­tro­duc­ing them to the world as it is, with the no­table ex­cep­tion of wit­ness­ing vi­o­lence. Some­thing about hu­mans, both chil­dren and adults, just doesn’t do very well with that.

When lis­ten­ing to the strug­gles of par­ents in this mod­ern age, one can­not help but sym­pa­thise. You have to be blind not to no­tice how the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try has been get­ting darker over time; and let’s not even in­tro­duce so­cial me­dia or gam­ing or the mu­sic in­dus­try be­cause... well, never mind. One worry at a time, right? As it is, I am told that even cartoons these days are in­tro­duc­ing cul­tur­ally in­ap­pro­pri­ate themes: Char­ac­ters in chil­dren’s sto­ries ad­dress is­sues like di­ver­sity or di­vorce or non­hetero­sex­u­al­ity as themes. And that’s just the cartoons. What a night­mare it must be for mod­ern par­ent­ing.

How re­gret­table that so much of this in­for­ma­tion age is fraught with sex and dragons and memes, but how is that so dif­fer­ent from how we were awak­ened by Madonna’s rocket-boobs or started pars­ing lyrics in al­bum and cas­sette and CD cov­ers? It led me to think that per­haps the chal­lenge for this gen­er­a­tion, like so many, is to lean for­ward rather than back. Hav­ing said that, oddly enough, I do find my­self al­right with the idea of mak­ing pub­lic broad­casts sub­ject to a few rules here and there. It’s not like the kids can’t find what they want to know on the In­ter­net. Oops, did I scare you again?

Jokes aside, I wish there were an easy an­swer to this but in the ju­nior edition of mus­ings about con­struc­tive en­ter­tain­ment, we’ve got a lot to dis­cuss. Just re­mem­ber: Into ev­ery­body’s life comes a time when Dr Huxtable be­comes the nearly con­victed crim­i­nal Mr Cosby. How do we bridge those real and metaphor­i­cal gaps for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions in a san­i­tary way? En­joy your en­ter­tain­ment.

Back when, life was sim­ple. Barely any TV that didn’t in­volve broad­casts by sten­to­rian old men.” It in­trigues me, this idea of pro­ject­ing chil­dren back­wards into idyl­lic pasts hop­ing this will build a so­cially utopian fu­ture

Elsie Eyakuze is an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant and blog­ger for The Mikocheni Report, http://mikoch enire­ E-mail:

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