Friday, 30 September 2011

Nature videos for education and fun?

There is a controversy about chiildren watching a television and video entertainment. Some parents and child advocates feel that children need more real world experience than bits and bytes of data that titilates and mesmerizes. I wonder about the balance, as well. I produce nature videos to help children see things they might not see in nature...and to encourage them to get out in their yards and parks to discover real life nature and the wonders of friendship and family relationships. But I have come to that act of creativity because I didn't like the junk viewing available in so many of our cultural storytelling choices. The fact that horror movies are targeted at young teens makes me shiver. The emphasis on lions and bears and crocodiles in the name of nature education for children makes me understand why so many children fear nature. They are even afraid they will find a lion or tiger in their own backyard.
Parental and teacher guidance and thoughtful observations of our children's perceptions are needed in this wild, wild world of entertainment. There's more happening than meets the eye. What values are being promoted? What relationship skills are being handed down? We all have a role to play in our storytelling heritage and we can do our part with each decision we make about the messages we craft for children.
The executive director of the Parents Television Council said: "What you're seeing here is an industry that refuses to accept responsibility for the harm it is capable of."
Ratings systems, reviews, and personal recommendations have long been used to help sort through our endless options for entertainment. Choice is hard work! But let's take a step beyond ratings and choices and consider personal vs. industry responsibility.
It is easy to de-humanize an industry. It becomes an "it". A machine. A soulless, heartless, monster. But industries are made up of individual people. People with families. With hopes and dreams. With challenges and fears. People. The person next door. Amazingly, even me, myself and I. When it comes to accepting responsibility, it is always a personal act. A personal choice. A personal interpretation of what works, what is kind. what is valuable, what is marketable. What will benefit not only our customers, but ourselves.
That's cold, hard reality. It is no longer some nebulous out-there, somebody else, kind of blame game. Suddenly every choice we make, every action we take becomes a personal contribution to our industry. And to our kids. And to the kind of community we want to live in.
The harm we are capable of.
The joy we are capable of.
The creativity we are capable of.
The caring we are capable of.
That is the entertainment (and edutainment) industry we create with each choice we make.