Friday, October 3, 2008

Children's programs- Looking at Nickelodeon

(Media Study South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

While rival, Disney is famous the world over for being slammed on human, and religious rights issues, Nickelodeon is more focused on providing their product and service.

On Nickelodeon, the channel- one sees- often relative violence in adverts for it, where dinosaurs fight for instance- and on ripping the other up- instead of blood- a logo appears within the second dinosaur- or in the violence of cartoons which replace adverts on the channel- which can be violent- and often show some kind of abuse of characters of other characters, or non-sensical hatred of some characters of others- or banal ideas.

This includes a character in a cartoon dressing as what looks like a tyrannosaurus Rex, and stomping another (I am guessing "bad")character to music.

There are also other cartoons in between or inside of programs where a pencil drawing- hard on its luck constantly has bad things done to it, often with the help of a vindictive other unseen character who draws the scenes. This may give a bad image of the script writer of our life making things "unfair", perhaps- just as the trivialization of violence- or the idea of a character pretending to dance while squashing another character- may cause children to see the idea that one can do wrong with an excuse- so long as it appears one is doing otherwise.

Also- there is much pride- and self-love, and victory dances by characters in these- including a gecko- who is chased every now and then by predators.

Unlike Disney- Nickelodeon, to our knowledge, in its own public capacity- does not have controversial stances we know of on homosexuality, abortion or contraception. This makes them possibly a better alternative- than the constant appearance of men in dresses in Disney programs- as well as the positive portrayal of cross-dressing (A manifestation of Lust, except when for necessity, in Catholic belief systems) in Mulan, where Disney slams Chinese culture in the film, which played on their channel.

In fact- Nickelodeon star - Jamie Lynn Spears- decided to have her child publically instead of an abortion (Creative Minority Report 2007).

As for their programs- their's has a vague, plural spiritualism is Nickelodeon programs- whether the existence of ghosts, who seemingly change like human beings (Danny Phantom), something not from a religious point of view, or the vague Eastern spiritualism of "Avatar".

The appearance of "Catholics", or Catholic characters in Nickelodeon programs appears for instance in materialistic "Gina Fabiani" in Unfabulous- where it is noted by main character- Addie Singer- that Gina always paid attention to her before her (Gina's) new boyfriend arrived, even interrupting confession to talk with her. It also appears in girls from a Catholic school enjoying very much their defeat of the main characters in a science fair. It includes catty banter between the Catholic school girls and main characters. The idea of religion winning is also noted as incorrect, when one of the main characters in this, probably "Addie" answers, "Because they have God on their side", to a question as to why the other school's girls always win, and materialistic Gina answers, that they have matching uniforms- which presents a united front to the judges.

Addie Singer's boyfriend, asks her out at his Jewish ceremony for becoming a man.

Nickelodeon seems generally to attempt to instill morals to a degree in children, it is not Catholic morals- as seen in their portrayal of French kissing outside of marriage- or the looseness with which lies are sometimes dealt with.

Some programs also seem to have a very positive portrayal of violence- however generally there are elements of a "good" and an "evil", of a "right" and a "wrong" inside of these programs- and they often are educational.

The vague spirituality apparent in some of their programs is not a problem as long as a child is adequately schooled in their faith's logical basis, and in the saints-

The sort of morals also in Nickelodeon programs also has it's benefits in reinforcement of what is taught in the house- and in their emphasis on doing the right thing.

Overall- we do advise allowing children to watch Nickelodeon over Disney- but also advise parents to take some time to watch with their children- so as to combat anything they dislike.

Avatar in particular does have an Eatern slant in their portrayal of religion, and in the monk-like uniform of the main character. It shows symbols such as Yen and Yang, and could have elements of dualism- however- with a strong moral background- this show is a good substitute for the utter lack of children's programs on television from a Catholic point of view. It is of benefit for children to have some spiritual emphasis in the media, even if at present we are not gifted with our own programs.

It may be noted that in Rickety Spricket: Showbiz Boy- the main character does dress up as a girl to get a job.


As we have determined to do a search on this network- the following are items of some concern- which do need slight consideration from parents, remember this is simply to ensure you know what dangers we have observed:

"June

Nickelodeon’s Toaster Man featured an opening scene on one episode that had nothing to do with the plot. Toaster Man is at a podium, raising what looks as if it were the Eucharist while speaking solemnly. After speaking, he calls out a number with the scene turning to a bingo hall." 1995 Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights

http://www.catholicleague.org/annualreport.php?year=1995&id=19

"August 1

An advertisement on Nickelodeon for an upcoming MTV program, Apartment 3F, mocked the crucifixion, with a comedian on stage referring to the "great abs" of Christ on the Cross"
1997 - Catholic League For Civil and Religious Rights
http://www.catholicleague.org/annualreport.php?year=1997&id=36


"August
Nickelodeon, in an insert in its August issue entitled "The Village Idiot," offered a "humor" item: "The Police Bladder." Among the fictional items was one about a police officer who had been cited for bravery for not relieving himself for 10 hours: "In lieu of flowers, dixie cups can be sent to him at Our Lady of the Distended Belly Hospital."" 1999
http://www.catholicleague.org/annualreport.php?year=1999&id=53

"Boston, Jun 13, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- New York-based cable giant Comcast has refused to run a public service announcement on abstinence on several of its channels, claiming that the ad is not appropriate for young viewers. A Comcast senior manager determined that Catholic Social Services’ 30-second spot is not appropriate for the 6-to-9-year-olds who watch the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and the Family Channel, reported the Boston Standard-Times."
2005
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=4128

"Social Issues?

When contemporary Christian singer Kenny Marks released a video entitled "The Party's Over," which dealt with the more sobering aspects of teen pregnancy, the major music television networks, including MTV and Nickelodeon, refused to play it because, as their spokesmen alleged, "We're not in the business of promoting social issues."[6] This was despite the fact that Marks' publicist demonstrated that the stations commonly show videos that deal with every other imaginable social issue, including drug use, apartheid, hunger, nuclear war, and crime." (Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLENC/ENCYC126.HTM


"The cartoon, which depicts the pope as a pogo-stick riding brat, has stirred protests from the Roman Catholic church and conservative politicians, particularly in Pope Benedict XVI's native Bavaria." (2006- Viacom owns MTV and Nickelodeon- the cartoon appeared on MTV )
http://www.americanpapist.com/2006_04_01_archive.html

While the problems with Nickelodeon as a brand are fewer than at Disney or simply more seldomly reported in this field of media, owners - Viacom have been so often caught out, that we have determined to let you surf through a search of many trusted Catholic sites on the issue

Viacom and antiCatholicism

And so- just as with Disney programs and many other elements- there is much danger in media for children- Nickelodeon programs which sometimes we find best- are either acted, or above mentioned- Avatar, Danny Phantom, Unfabulous... we don't of course like the cartoons which appear within all of these programs on their main channel- perhaps watching the same on Mnet's KTV is a better option!

Ultimately- a good forming of conscience, which often is done through literature, or recorded programs- and through prayer and bible reading, and catechism reading time as a family- are vital to child development- and one should trust neither Nickelodeon, Nor Disney- to be baby sitters for their children.

Does one let their child watch Nickelodeon, or choose them above Disney- ultimately- that is left to the parent- we will of course, God-willing hopefully be able to review portions of these and other children's programs for future use

A small danger with program Jake and Josh, is the appearance of the character who plays Josh, as a drug dealer in a film slammed by the Catholic league- after his stint in the well known series.


Ultimately- in the modern era- we often endorse companies with bad histories or parts- This is the way that the system has been set up by giant conglomerates, with largely imported programs to choose from, or products from countries with human rights histories not to be proud of. with children- we need to choose the best of the bad options- or else go to the effort to weed out the best of the entertainment options- always remembering the importance of family on value shaping.

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