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TV and parables of our time
Diane Winston is an instructor and journalist at the
USC. Her classes includes TV and Faith. Religion has a more prominent
subject in TV. Entertainment narratives and storytelling is very
powerful resource to influence the audience perceptions of the world.
Actually, Diane thinks that we underestimate that power. She states,
“We underestimate the power of entertainment narratives to influence
the way we look at the world” (TV and parables of our time).
TV and meaning has grown into a new deeper meaning. It
has grown into a new level than ever before. Two reasons why it has
changed is due to the advance in technology and responding to hard times
especially post 9/11. Shows like House, ER, Grey’s Anatomy take on
issues of medical ethics. The creator of House, David Shore visited
Diane Winston in her classroom. She states that David has two older
brothers that are actually Orthodox Rabbis in Israel. David is no
stranger to religion. However, he isn’t very religious like some may
thing. David states that each show has an ethical problem at it’s
center. They present ways to the public to think about issues, medical
issues. The show then provides a clip of House with a central medical
issue. A patient of House wants to just give in and basically die. The
problem then leads to Chase stating that they should give him a syringe
with morphine. The
ethical problem is that it is wrong to help a man commit suicide, but
however, is it? Shouldn’t we help a man who is going to die a painful
death end his misery? This is a prime example of how TV has evolved.
TV isn’t going to replace literature, Diane states. Two
central issues has appeared on television recently, mortality and
heroes. Shows like the Ghost Whisperer deals with the fear of death.
It deals with the hope that something lies beyond death. Diane states
that post 9/11 has skewed our views of heroes. She states that heroes
now are anti-heroes. We may not like them but we depend on them. Shows
like 24 and House depicts that.
TV engages us with spiritual moral ethical questions.
Questions that people face includes:
1. Why are we here?
2. What am I doing?
3. Who’s important to me?
4. Why does it matter?
5. What’s going to happen to me after I die?
TV entertainment is helping the people deal with those questions through
storytelling and narratives. One example is in the show Lost. The
characters deal with extreme situations with those questions.
This new generation of TV shows deals with questions of
identity and ethics. Diane states that many don’t look at TV this way.
However, once they learn about it then they realize that they can see
it. They watch the shows differently after that. They are more open to
the differences and can reach spirituality better. I agree with Diane.
I never looked at it this way but once you are aware of it then you will
see it more and more while watching TV. The ethical problem in House
never appeared to me in a religious context but now I see it. However,
now you see it all the time. I think television is a great outlet and
I'm not surprised that they display some of the questions that we face.