Try not to take TV stereotypes too seriously

It is not a huge secret that I have worshipped at TV’s altar since the late 1950s. It has been a part of my life since my pre-school days and I am still an unapologetic fan of television in an era when it’s hipper to say that you don’t watch TV.

It is not a huge secret that I have worshipped at TV’s altar since the late 1950s. It has been a part of my life since my pre-school days and I am still an unapologetic fan of television in an era when it’s hipper to say that you don’t watch TV.

I have defended television and criticized television because it is open to both philosophies every day of the week, but I will always love TV.

The front page article in the Saturday Advocate presented a college instructor’s opinion about the CSI crime drama program that has been on the air waves for many years.

I’ll be honest; I have never watched this program or any crime drama variation on the CSI formula. Hour-long crime detective dramas have never been my strong suit, with the huge exception of The Rockford Files.

I understand the picture painted by the RDC instructor, but I am uncertain whether her assessment is worthy of a lengthy research paper dedicated to stereotypes in TV.

Ironically enough, this opinion comes from a guy who did a lengthy final exam paper on The Flintstones in university.

I took an option with a visiting professor whose educational background included a teaching gig at Berkeley in his resume. That California campus has always been considered a free-spirited university and my professor was no exception to the rule.

The final exam in his class was composed of two parts: devise a topic and defend it. Equal weight was given to both for a final mark.

I chose to defend my topic that The Flintstones were a good representation of the social mores presented by early 1960s television.

I included gender stereotype examples such as Wilma Flintstone’s housewife role and Fred’s blundering alpha male role in the show. I also noted that Fred and Wilma were not allowed to share a bed even though they were legally married at the time.

Something must have happened in their cave because eventually Wilma and Fred begat Pebbles, although the term “pregnant” was also a no-go in ’60s TV.

I passed the course with the Berkeley guy, but even he wondered about the subject matter.

I read the Advocate piece about CSI and I wondered whether Carlen Lavigne had taken TV too seriously in her paper.

I wrote my final exam on The Flintstones with more than a few grains of salt in the equation. I simply wanted to challenge myself with a topic of my own design that attached an academic pose to a simple situation comedy.

For me, the premise of serious academic analysis for a lightweight TV show was funnier than many of the Flintstone episodes because I was a Flintstones fan for all the right reasons: pure entertainment.

Television is first and foremost an entertainment medium. The fact that CSI follows a tried and true model of presentation will likely never change and we should not be alarmed at that fact.

It never occurred to me to care whether Jerome Giraffe and Rusty the Rooster were more than just friends when I was a kid and I am not particularly interested in the private lives of today’s TV characters.

TV has always been a make-believe world and I accepted that fact a long time ago.

Jim Sutherland is a local freelance writer. He can be reached at jim@mystarcollectorcar.com.

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