That was the name of the movie my cousin and I went to on a Wednesday afternoon in the summer of 1969. The one theatre in my cousin’s small North Carolina town changed its films once a week. I don’t think we were expecting to see that particular movie but that’s what we got.
|courtesy of iwannawatch.to|
It was a romantic comedy about a couple who met at a party and fell in love. There was a problem though; both of them were unhappily married to someone else. However, that didn’t prevent them from running off together. The movie ended with one of them sitting on board an airplane waiting for the other. It seemed as if he or she was being stood up. The tension was palpable as the audience rooted for the other one to make the flight. And yes, just as the doors to the plane were closing, the second half of the couple sat down in the vacant seat. We breathed a sigh of relief as the aircraft soared high and they went off into the sunset to commit adultery.
Obviously my memory of the movie is hazy but I still remember feeling a vague discomfort. What the couple was doing was wrong and yet Hollywood made it seem so right. Even though there’d been no bedroom scenes I wondered what my parents would have said about that movie, for they frowned on poor morals being shown on the wide screen. On the small screen inside our family room we watched innocuous shows like My Three Sons and Bewitched or family dramas such as Bonanza and Hallmark Hall of Fame. Peyton Place and soap operas were never viewed.
Yet, as time went on the sitcoms became less and less innocuous and more and more risqué. I left America and television behind me when I made Aliyah. Perhaps it was because I saw it so rarely I wasn’t oblivious to its nosedive in morals.
Some dozen years ago I was back in my family room visiting my father and caught a few minutes of a family show. It seems as if widowed or single fathers still made for good comedy. In this show a man and his brother lived together with the man’s son of about ten-years-old. The boy woke up in the middle of the night to get a drink of water and who does he meet in the kitchen? None other than his teacher whom he strongly dislikes. What’s she doing in his kitchen in the wee hours of the morning? Spending the night with his uncle. How the audience laughed! I was horrified.
How was the boy going to go to school the next day and face his teacher? What would she say to him? Would the other students know what had gone on between the two of them? I didn’t continue watching so I cannot answer these questions.
From what I understand television values have digressed more and more and now it’s just a small jump from prime time TV to pornographic internet channels. Experts state that exposing a child to porno is another form of sexual abuse*. And more than eighty per cent of abused boys are likely to become pedophiles.** It becomes a pyramid scheme and now we find ourselves in a situation where child sexual abuse is becoming epidemic.
Even though April is a couple of month away we’re all fools. We’re fools for not being able to find healthy entertainment more intelligent than Green Acres. We’re fools for blithely accepting whatever the media feeds us.
Yet, we don’t have to remain fools. We can become discriminating viewers and refuse to watch anything offensive. Lower ratings and box office revenues can change the status quo. It’s time we actively do all we can to protect our children and grandchildren.
*Debbie Gross, director of the Tahel Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children
**Dr. Yael Solomon, clinical psychologist, Ruppin Academic Center