For Baby Boomers, one of the most influential television shows of our childhood is Leave it to Beaver, a family comedy show of the late 1950s and early 1960s produced in black and white. (Yes, there was black and white television once upon a time. In fact, the first television I remember seeing as a child was really green and white. It had one of those little, round green cathode tubes that you find today only on certain kinds of diagnostic instruments for engines, etc.)
The show featured two boys and their father and mother. The plots were extremely simple. I found one recently on the TV Land channel on cable where "the Beaver" was in Sixth Grade and assigned to write a story about his mother. He wanted to show off to his classmates, so he used information about a famous actress that he saw in a television interview and wrote a fictional story about his mother's background. His teacher knew his mother well enough to know that it was fiction, but she didn't say anthing when he read his story to the classroom. Instead, she called and asked his mother to come in and chat with her, and told her the situation. This resulted in a conversation between mother and father, and then father discussed it with the Beaver. The boy had to make an apology to his teacher and classmates and learned that it was better to tell the truth than tell a whopper to make things more exciting.
That was typical television fare 50 years ago. How things have changed! For better or worse? What do you think?
Television is an even greater influence on our culture and the values of people than it was when I was a child, but it seems that there is clearly not the same consensus about values that existed 50 years ago. What kinds of values actually drive the commercial interests who control television today?