Boycotting Television, Commercials, and Cable

As you are reading this, I am cancelling my family’s subscription to Cable Television. I am taking control of the amount of time my kids sit in front of the television set, the kind of shows they watch, and of my family’s precious money and time. Time Warner will no longer force me to pay hundreds of dollars a month only to be inundated with sexist commercials, biased news, banal reality TV shows that reek of immorality and gratuitous images of violence and sex. Since blogging primarily about consumerism and how gender is presented on television shows, I have become even more aware of the degenerate portrayals of women and girls by every media venue, including the news. I will no longer sit by and watch as my children’s identities are formed and conditioned by superficial, sexist, and egotistical members of the media, filling their pockets with my money as they fill my home with propaganda, debasement, and bigotry. I am silencing the voices that enter my home and collide with the kind of values that I want my children to be raised with. I am boycotting television and cable for the following reasons, and I hope that it becomes a common thread among women and parents everywhere. The only way advertising companies, owners of networks as well as producers and writers of commercials, television, news, and movies will cease their attack on our homes, our sex, our children’s identities, and our intelligence will  occur when we turn them off and stop paying our hard-earned money just to listen to their lies, deceit, hypocrisy, and self-important rhetoric.

Commercials: Do you ever notice how much longer the commercials are compared to the show you’re actually tuning in to watch? I counted once or twice and discovered that my show aired for four minutes vs. ten minutes of commercials. And what commercials am I forced to endure? Sexist commercials that tell me my fungus-infested mop is in tears and will miss me because I’ve switched to Swiffer Jet. Commercials that show me skinny and beautiful Goddesses in their forties running around or doing crafts with their three kids, somehow managing to look hot, happy, wrinkle and fat-free — which just so happens to be the opposite of how I look after a day of mothering. I am ridiculed for my impatience and high standards when the mom on TV laughs cheerfully as she wipes the mess her husband and kids make when they spill soda or sauce all over the kitchen counter or floor. Not to mention that my place, according to these commercials, is within the confines of the domestic — either in the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, or the supermarket. And this is just me.

My kids are told what kind of toys they should play with according to their gender. Dolls that pee and poo after you feed them, puppies that need to be combed and walked, Princesses and Barbies that define how girls should look — perfect, sexy, beautiful and skinny — define girlhood and womanhood for my daughter. My son is told to be adventurous, aggressive, and ambitious by playing with toys that don’t need to be nurtured — toys that require force and assertive behavior. He’s also told how to treat girls and women — when he is older. Portraits of hot, skinny, and dolled up females who treat him well in bed and then manage to cook for him and pick up after him define the kind of women he will be looking for and marrying as well as how he will be treating them.

My husband is told that he is nothing if he doesn’t drive the right car, have the right job, drink the right beer, or have a hot babe clinging to his arms.

News: I’m not much for the news — I have always believed that stories are told from the perspective of the storyteller — and my background in research has taught me that polls and statistics and surveys are manipulated and skewed to support the researcher’s hypothesis. When my students start throwing out stats to me — I spend a great deal of time instructing them about research, findings, and biased results. It’s all a game — a numbers game — a name dropping game — and the sooner we all understand this, the better off we will be, and they will have to shut up.

Recently, because I have been focusing my Thursday’s blog content on media and gender, and because I have come across great women’s sites like The New Agenda, I have come to see that political correctness exists for everyone except women. For the first time, I listen to what news reporters like Chris Matthews say on their shows, and I am appalled. I have become acutely aware of how political figures like Sarah Palin are reduced to bad mothers, witches, hags and nags, and other more colorful epithets that are only allowed to be spewed at members of the female sex. And if you don’t like Palin, and are rolling your eyes at the mention of her name, then consider Hillary Clinton. So many male news reporters referred to her as having the kind of face and nagging expressions they wouldn’t want to come home to if she was their wife. How is it that there’s so much PC out there for everyone except women? How is it that a woman vying for political office can so easily — and without protest or admonishment — be reduced to and critiqued as a wife, a mother, and her looks? This is sexist rhetoric and rigid lines need to be drawn. News reporters and journalists need to be vilified for their sexist comments and their bigotry — and women need to stand up and say, “No More.”  By losing viewers, they lose money, and their voices — full of hate and bias — are no longer heard. Then they will change their ways and become more respectful towards the women that gave birth to them, married them, and gave birth to their children. How do they go home and face their wives? How do they face their daughters?

Reality TV — Reality television shows have taken over and bring us down. When we watch The Bachelor, we passively witness women selling themselves to one man — competing for one man — a race of sex and stupidity — for one man. People tune in to watch, and laugh at, Jersey Shore‘s young “stars” as they drink themselves to oblivion and have sex with one another in public. The Housewives of NJ/NY/Atlanta portray ridiculous women who marry money, have no self-respect, and behave like idiots. Wife Swap demonstrates the fact that women are interchangeable and expendable — why do the women have to swap places? They have to enter the threshold of a new home, assume the wife and mother roles of another woman — and this is OK with everyone? Teen Moms is a show that tells our teen aged daughters that it’s OK to get pregnant — they can have a baby, still have friends and a social life, and heck, if it doesn’t work out, they can just give it up for adoption. Is this what we want our girls to watch? Our boys?

And I cannot believe that Toddlers and Tiaras is even allowed to be on the air.

In the early 1900’s we established laws to protect our children. Today child services calls your home if you do not clothe and feed your child properly, and yet we allow the dregs of society to exploit their beautiful little girls on air — for money — dressing their three and four-year-olds in Madonna-style cone-cupped dresses that protrude from their childish chests, five pounds of make-up making them look like living dolls — applauding as their little bodies grind and bump and shimmy like strippers.  We tune in to these shows because they are ridiculous, we tell ourselves. They make us laugh — we’re just making fun of them — but when we tune in, we keep them going. We feed them, we give them license to continue, we tell them it’s OK to act like this, and we make them rich. We tell network owners that we will keep on watching  just to see what else these crazies do, and they will ask their producers to make more shows like this; and to keep their jobs and their salaries, they will come up with more insane ideas, find more uncouth, self-serving and degenerate members of society to exploit themselves and their loved ones for money and short-lived fame. And we’re partly to blame.

Kids’ Shows: Aside from some good television shows like Noggin, PBS, and Discovery Channel, (you may know of some more, but in comparison to what I’m focusing on, there’s not much out there), everything else is ridiculous. Drowned in gender-based and consumer-conditioned commercials, my son can’t even watch Nick Jr or Nickelodeon without being forced to consume violent cartoons, teenagers making out, and even guest appearances by renowned gang member and drug dealer gone misogynistic rapper, Snoop Dogg, dressed as Santa Claus — his intent on selling his new album, which is full of raps about sexist attitudes towards girls, drugs, women, sex — not what middle school and high school kids should be listening to. What clean and appropriate shows are out there for boys and girls that don’t reinforce sex, fame, drugs, money, and living without parental controls? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids are exposed to daily doses of 60% of sexual images and 53% of violence — and this poll was taken in 2004.

Music Videos: It happens to me that when I listen to a song and I really love it, I have to check out the video  — and I am always in shock. For instance Rihanna’s new song “only Girl” sounded perfect — her voice is sweet and soul-reaching — but her video is plain and simple and sleazy as she makes “sex” at the camera. She’s out in the country dressed in a bathing suit style outfit that make her breasts stick out and shows off her long legs — in high heels, of course. She’s slithering on the ground like she’s having sex — and this runs for about nine minutes of her song.

The trend in videos is that if the artist is a guy — he doesn’t have to do anything but sing his song — but in the background there is always a woman — and it’s all about her sex. If the artist is a woman, then she has to be the singer and she has to sex it up for the camera and her viewers. Do I really want to watch that? Do I want my son to see images of the sexualized woman — to think that this is how women should be portrayed and represented — objects that function to fulfill his desires and needs — to feed his senses with her sensuality? And my daughter — do I want her to look at these objectified images of girls and be conditioned to believe that she needs to dress like this, behave like this — to get what she wants? People tell me all the time, “sex sells, Marina. It’s how it is — it will never change.” And I’m supposed to lie down and take that? No. I never bought into it and I most certainly don’t want my daughter to think that if she wants fame, money, promotions at work, or even her girlfriends or boyfriends to like her, that she has to sex it up for them.

No thanks! No thanks television, reality TV, commercials, or music videos. No thanks Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, or reality TV “stars” from Joyzie, Atlanta, or anywhere else. And no thanks to the creators, network owners, news reporters, or enslaved producers for the smut they provide to the masses. And a final no thanks to Times Warner Cable and its owners who take my money month after month just to introduce me and my family to vapid entertainment and inundate us with stereotypical commercials. No thanks, and Good-bye.

Copyright© 2011 by Marina Delvecchio. All Rights Reserved.

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About Marinagraphy

Marina is a writer who focuses her work on the need for female empowerment. She writes articles, books, and blogs centered on female experiences related to motherhood, female agency, feminism, and building positive images for young girls and women. She currently teaches Literature, Writing, and Women's Studies on the College level.

21 Responses to Boycotting Television, Commercials, and Cable

  1. RJ Matthews says:

    I am a man who doesn’t need ESPN! Cancelled my cable subscription over 5 years ago.

  2. RJ Matthews says:

    We unplugged our cable TV over two years ago and saving money. Why do we have to be exposed to the propaganda in doctor waiting rooms, restaurants, etc.?

  3. Meryl Jaffe says:

    Good for you! When my kids were young we didn’t watch TV! And, recently The Wall Street Journal had a huge article about the average age of TV watchers. It seems they are much older, for a lot of reasons, but many of which you note above. Why deal with all the commercials and JUNK when you can go to hulu, youtube, and other websites to watch favorite shows without the commercials.

    Great blog and good luck. I hope all is well, I haven’t seen you lately on my blog – I miss your insightful comments. Hope all is well, and hope to see you again soon.

    All the best,

  4. Lenn Rahikainen says:

    I can tolerate cable television, with so many choices occasionally something worthwhile to view can be found. What I absolutely can no longer handle is the commercials!!!! Comcast should be paying us to watch so many ads. I’d like the word to get out to BOYCOTT television a certain month or two (or more) to get the message to the cable industry we are not going to remain subjected to this absolute nonsense any longer.

    • Lenn, I agree with you on the commercials — ten minutes’ worth of commercials in between the actual shows is ridiculous! And the content is repulsive — this is my objection also. I agree as well that one month of boycotting nationwide would change their perspective — but how to go about doing that?

    • RJ Matthews says:

      I boycott TV every day of the year. It is amazing how your mind will expand. Exposing children to the crap on TV justs sets them back educationally and socially. Pulled the plug over two years ago.

      • RJ, thank for taking the time to comment. I think it’s great that you pulled the plug. Television is not what it used to be, and I would rather be doing something more useful than watching it also, especially with the direction media has taken. It is full of propaganda and sensationalism.

    • karen says:

      i agree,we need to show tv networks no more

  5. marille says:

    Marina, I’ll have at least one piece at the new agenda again in March, women’s month. planning to start a regular site for female composers. you’ll see hopefully very soon.

  6. marille says:

    Marina, I applaud you for writing about sex trafficking and he superbowl. and completely agree on all the points you raised here. my now daughter at age 8 picked up that the commercials only show women cleaning, no men in any cleaning adds. she found that very unfair. for years now we have limited TV to occasional sports shows like olympics, skiing skating. since 08 when my then 7 year old was phonebanking for Hillary and later cheering for Sarah, she is aware what the TV producers think of strong women. lots and lots of questions. she at 10 understands and agrees why we are not supporting the shows and will not watch them. my approach is that I cannot completely control what pictures she sees, but rather discuss the challenges and obstacles for women. too bad this had to start so early. we are both looking out for women’s achievements. the new agenda is a great source. I also read strong women’s bios and am particulary interested in female composers. all the stories of Alice Paul, Ida Wells, Joan d’Arc, Joanna the first queen of Naples, composers like Clara Schuman, Amy Beach, Hildegard von Bingen help set different expectations what women can do.

    • Marille, thank you so much! I just joined The New Agenda and find that they represent much of what I want to be involved with. I applaud you and your daughter for having conversations about what shows are on — and commercials — and how women are represented in the home, in the workforce, and in politics. I am unfamiliar with some of the women you listed — especially composers — the only composers I know are male — that’s a space that is not discussed in terms of female involvement — you should write about that! And now I’m irked by the fact that this is an area in which female composers are unknown. Huh! Thanks for visiting and commenting. Hope you visit again.

  7. Lynne Spreen says:

    Marina, what about the Internet? Are you keeping your kids off of that? Great post.

    • Hi Lynne, yes! My kids are small — 7 and 3, and the only time they get on the computer is to play a game on a CD. My son’s using Word for homework, but that’s all. We have a password that he doesn’t know, so he can’t get on unless we let him — and just in case he ever finds himself on the internet, we have parental controls already set in place so, which send us emails letting us know where he went. Our computer is in a central location also — so I always see what he’s doing. It will change as he gets older, I suppose, but he’ll never have a computer in his room — that’s a mistake for any parent — and kid.

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  9. heather says:

    Oh! And actually, I have serious some economic and social ideas that are the real deal behind all of the “smoke & mirrors” of my moms and smart, sex appeal campaign.

    But I first thing, you have to reach your audience where they sit.

  10. heather says:

    Since I am in L.A. I have recently been reviewing opportunities to get involved in television that centers around a new view of mothers and women from a mother’s perspective. Guess what, there are none!

    Recently, they were looking for “Amazing Moms” who had baby daddy drama and loved their social life. I am not kidding! This show is in production. Anyway, I wrote a post about it and my creative correspondence to them so that I could be selected. Still waiting for my big audition…haha!

    I’m starting to reach out and think big. I already have dreamed up massive controversial, sexy, smart, mom-pride marketing campaign. Everything needs to come together. I’m working on it. If I get anywhere, you are definitely going to be someone I would want to involve!

    Gotta dream big. These are big issues!

  11. heather says:

    First, kudos to mommy of 12! You rock!

    I would gladly do this but the man in my house — who is not a big tv watcher any — would seriously miss soccer games. And dare I say, he watched Two & A Half Men. That MUST be on your misogyny list. Have you seen it?

    I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of t.v. today. I recently put a cartoon on for my son that showed commercials. They were awful!

    I wanted to comment on this:
    “How is it that a woman vying for political office can so easily — and without protest or admonishment — be reduced to and critiqued as a wife, a mother, and her looks?”

    The worse part is that women do this to each other! Also, they watch all of those shows you mention. Feminism and it’s message does not seem to be making a strong dent in getting these shows off the air or how women are being portrayed.

    It think the biggest problem is that we are seeing sex through the prism of the single male mind since they are at the helm of many studios. My theory holds that sex is not bad and women are beautiful. But it is represented in such an open-ended, without consequences kind of way — as a man enjoys it (most women I know have to at least consider contraception which can take some of the illusion away).

    I think women and mothers need to hi-jack the sexual brand. I have my ideas. If we can sell cars with sex, can we sell responsible motherhood? I think we can.

    • I loved how you said that — that is exactly it — we are seeing representations of women and sex through single men’s eyes because men rule and govern the media. Heather, I’m in! How do we change this?

  12. Grace Becker says:

    Wow, you have said a mouthful, and I couldn’t agree more! As a mother of twelve kids, I am disgusted with the amount of sex and violence that is shoved down our throats every day. If I want to know about a car, I don’t need some woman selling sex to tell me about the features of the car!
    I am disgusted with the clothing choices available to our girls today as well. We need companies to sell clothing for our young daughters that don’t make them look like street walkers. I won’t go on & on, I just want to say that you have made excellent points here and I support your boycott (we don’t have cable or even watch a lot of TV, but doing away with it entirely would be totally fine too! That might make a bold statement if we could get enough people to join us!

    • Let’s Go, Grace! God bless you, also, for raising 12 kids. Wow! And I agree with the sexy clothing for girls — my daughter is three and I cannot believe the little hoochie clothes they have for her age — 2-piece bikinis and short shorts! We have to stand up and say “No Way!” Thanks for commenting.

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