KATIE ZERR: One might hope for a different outcome

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Watching television as a channel surfer, one can get a glimpse of what is happening outside of our little hamlet in a very short period of time.

There are programs that are skipped over entirely when identified in the information box. There are programs that offer 30 seconds of entertainment before disgust sets in and then there are those shows that, like a bad accident, one must stop at and take a longer look, even though it is against better judgment.

It is those shows, most of them of the reality variety that are an alarming, red-flag warning about what is happening in our society.

There are some reality shows that have merit. Those that offer a prize for being the best singer out of a huge number of contestants, or for surviving under some pretty rough conditions to outwit opponents, or even those who reward the best celebrity dancers, have a purpose.

Others that celebrate the wealthy and their boorish behavior, not so good.

On any given evening a channel surfer can watch two women, with botoxed faces, flapping their enhanced lips at each other; their perfectly sculpted noses an inch or so apart. Their screeching is hardly discernable, but that is not the draw. One would think the anticipation of which one of these jewelry- laden princesses will grab the first handful of hair or slap the first implanted chin with a newly manicured hand must be the draw. Why else would anyone watch two women, whose faces barely move, scream at each other over frivolous matters?

A seasoned channel surfer can tell when the buildup to one of these outbursts is at the crescendo, because it seems there is always one friend who decides to stab another in the back and run to the princess that is the center of the conflict. If a surfer hits the program at just the right time, the bonus 30 seconds of inevitable table tossing, and husbands stepping in to break up or prevent a fight can be viewed without wasting a full episode on the rest of the drivel.

It is not just the housewives or Kardasians that are of the bad accident variety.

Other shows that chronicle weddings and brides incredulous behavior, either during the planning or picking out a dress, can also stun a channel surfer. Maybe it is that we were raised in the Midwest where respect is still a part of our upbringing, but some of the behavior of young women is so atrocious it is frightening. Thirty seconds of watching a soon-to-be bride screaming at a bridesmaid or throwing the cake on the floor because the flowers are too pink or degrading her own mother, is enough to make one wonder where these woman were raised. Obviously not one of these screaming princesses ever saw the backside of the woodshed.

On any given evening of channel surfing, one can watch young people from the East Coast drinking, cussing, fighting, falling down and throwing up. Not unusual, many have done so, but not in front of cameras and not without remorse.

This channel surfer understands that most of what is seen on those types of reality shows is in the script that is given to these “stars” the week before taping, but it is still a shock to the system to watch someone display this disgusting human behavior for all to see.

Television is not all bad. There are shows that have merit and educate if one allows an open mind while viewing. A seasoned channel surfer can catch three different sides to any political issue within a half an hour or catch the best political satire that is available just by watching the clock and knowing where to find certain commentators.

Behavior can be influenced by what is shown on TV. Why else would one sit for an hour or so in the evening, catching glances into our society, watching the same behavior over and over again and hoping for a different outcome?



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