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The Opinion Page of

Einar and the Mighty V-chip
Hey - before you read this - this is from 1996, and I don't think I've had an opinion since!

The intro:

In Saturday, February 10th's "Seattle Times" on page A2, there is an Associated Press photo of our President, his buddy, Al, and Al's wife, Tipper. They are visiting the home of some average Americans. Part of the caption reads: The officials visited the private home to discuss the (V-) chip which lets parents screen out objectionable TV shows.

"Lets?" As in "allows"? Implying that currently they CAN'T screen out objectionable programs?

My opinion:

As a parent it amazes me that the government (technically "we the people" so I guess I'm talking about regular folks like you and me here, right?) feels that we common folks need a gadget like the V-chip to allow us parents to control what our kids watch on television.

My wife and I use the "off" switch on our TV. Sometimes we change the channel, but "off" seems more effective. Simple, too. Even our children can do it. Even my 2 year old daughter. We didn't need to learn some crazy VCR backwards way of programming that some engineer in Tokyo or Redmond felt commoners should be smart enough to figure out. Just press "off".

Spending time with our kids, reading to them, or working with them on their school stuff, or teaching them to be polite and respect others seems to be more responsible. Cheaper too. My mom did it for me. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Of course we live in different times, and we now have single parent poor families, and double income wealthy families who don't have the luxury of this "quality" time to spend on the mundane tasks of parenting - like teaching your kids.

Too bad there's not a V-chip that zaps parents who use the television as a baby-sitter to begin with. "A giant cathode-ray nipple" - The Disposable Heroes of Hip-Hoprisy.

Too bad there's not a V-chip that keeps kids from bringing firearms to school. Instead of I Don't Like Mondays, now we can sing about any day of the week.

On the other hand, there are two regulations I wish we had for television broadcasts.

  • No advertising directed at children. We don't allow the cartoons and other kiddy entertainments on Saturday morning in this house. I'm disgusted that we bombard kids with Barbie ads, Ninja Turtle action figures, and sugar coated crappy breakfast "food" substances. What tired parent who already has a problem saying "no" (that's why some 16 year olds have kids to begin with) needs to have a whining, hyper kid BEGGING them for Fruit Loops and a new Nintendo game? Canada, I believe, still has a law banning advertising directed at children.
  • No excerpts of violent or sensational programs broadcasted into the middle of a relatively "sane" program. Let's say I've actually decided to watch "America's Stupidest Home Videos" on Sunday night with the family (taking all responsibility for setting the bad example of laughing at other people's misfortunes).

    Suddenly, in the middle of the commercial break you hear a scream, see a woman getting slapped by a big ugly man, see another man burst into the room with a gun and shoot the first man, while the music rocks, and the voice-over comes on with "Later tonight on ABC, don't miss the latest episode of "The Young and the Violent". Wouldn't it be enough to just show a logo of the show, say, "This show is REALLY violent. You'll love it!" and then go back to showing a commercial for beer, cars, and boob jobs? I guess not.