It’s time to use our remotes more wisely

It’s the weekend and all you want to do is relax and enjoy light entertainment. So, you can go to the movies or just scroll down the instant watch list of Netflix, where you will shockingly find “Bad Grandpa,” “Sex and the City” and “Jackass 3D.”

All movies today have heightened stupidity and degrading characters. Why would Americans want to be exposed to that – let alone pay for the entertainment? American media is not what it used to be.

Americans used to watch and produce movies with heroes and heroines, with love and faithfulness, with passionate and dramatic plot lines. Now, movies are being made with no plots at all, or ones that include offensive characters stimulated by stupidity, misconduct and sexual adventure.

But who is to blame for the obvious failures in the movie industry, the people who produce the movies or the people that watch them? It is a little bit of both. It is an endless circle that keeps feeding itself. Researchers argue people attend movies that have no meaning or exaggerated characters because they need light entertainment and need to escape from the “real world.”

Historian and writer Samuel Huntington writes in his book “The Clash of Civilizations” that we as humans define ourselves by what we are not. Even throughout history, Americans defined themselves in relation to Europe, which was poor, faithless and un-free while America was the home of the free, affluent and faithful.

Perhaps we are watching these exaggerated characters and mindless movies and shows because it gives us a foundation to define ourselves by what we are not. The most egregious example for this argument is the show “Jersey Shore” that aired a couple of years ago. Many people confirmed they only watched the show because it “made them feel better about themselves.”

Although the only words in the reality stars’ vocabularies were “GTL” (gym, tan and laundry), viewers knew that they were much more intellectually capable than that. Some Americans realize those characters are not accurate representations, but others do not. Culley Schultz, junior, is originally from New Jersey.

When asked if the show depicts real life on the East Coast, Schultz replies, “No, we aren’t all orange, and we don’t go clubbing every night. We aren’t all Snooki.” If some people from the United States don’t even know if those depictions are true, then what are people from outside the United States thinking?

Pamela Solares, another junior originally from Guatemala, says she experienced first- hand how people from other countries based their opinions on Americans from American media.

“I was going back to Guatemala on vacation where my family is from, and my uncle had told my cousins not to hang out with me too much or associate with me because I would not have good morals,” Solares said. “Because they based their assumptions off of movies and reality TV from America, they assumed I would be somewhat like that.”

Solares was surprised and taken back because she knew behavior in American media was everything short of what she actually represented.

Michael Medved, an American writer, says, “The vast majority in Pakistan or Peru, Poland or Papua New Guinea, may never visit the United States or even meet an American face to face, but they inevitably encounter images of L.A. and New York in the movies, television programs and popular songs exported everywhere by the American entertainment industry.”

Medved continues to say that if you are an American, you realize those images are a false representation but, “If you live in Indonesia or Nigeria, however, you will have little or no first- hand experience to balance the negative impressions provided by American pop culture, with its intense emphasis on violence, sexual adventurism and every inventive variety of anti-social behavior that the most overheated imagination could concoct.”

Even if these movies do not represent us as Americans, it is still unfortunate they lend sufficient entertainment to some Americans. I have attended movies where comedy is made of derogatory remarks, love comprises crude sexual adventures and laughter involves people acting wildly unethical.

Perhaps these plots are not reflective of actual American life, but the phrase “the eyes are the portals to your soul” rings so true to this circumstance. If we keep watching behavior that is so derogatory, soon enough the uncommon behavior is going to become all too common. Not every movie needs to have a reoccurring moral lesson or an intense plot to jog the brain, but there is a line that needs to be drawn.

Jennifer Pozner, author of the book “Reality Bites Back” agrees that American media does not do its viewers justice.

“Real love involves a foundation of respect, honesty and trust, concepts wholly missing from the pale imitations hawked to us by the folks who script ‘unscripted’ entertainment,” Pozner said.

American media deprives us of values and qualities that we need to see and need to relate to. So next time you’re relaxing on a weekend, use the remote wisely. When we choose more intellectual movies to watch, American moviemakers can’t afford perpetuating anything less.