In the 20s and 30s children were regularly admonished with the phrase ‘behave yourself’, or ‘behave’. In shops they would have been no more allowed free range to rush about the shop, than they would have been allowed to steal. Today this is not the case. Crime generally is a case of lack of self-control, where the whim overrides the normal boundaries. Bad behaviour in children indicates a lack of parental control. When radio and the press were subjected to censorship, there was a sweeping embargo on anything not ‘nice’. The swinging 60s turned this totally upside-down, to where films from America, for realism, have foul language scattered like chaff through the dialogue, and even between syllables. It is unsurprising that a high percentage of teenagers are cursing. Governments have a tendency, as was shown recently, in order to eradicate a wrong, they make sweeping legislation which affects the majority as well as the offending minority. This was the case with corporal punishment. I was amused when one of my grandchildren was sent to sit on ‘the naughty step’ at the bottom of stairs for some misdemeanour. She accepted it quite naturally, and it seems to work, but the amusing part was that when the older child had completed her sentence, she came back into the room and took a swipe at the other child, which underlines that it is a fact of nature, including the animal kingdom, that we naturally accept corporal punishment as a way of curbing bad or dangerous behaviour. I have repeatedly stated that I was caned more than most for less than most, but I don’t sincerely think that my psyche has been damaged. There were some I came across who went too far, but they not the system should have been curbed.
This long introduction is to show the continuous, and not necessarily the best changes that have taken place in our society in areas of social behaviour. What caused me to start this was that having been confined to a chair throughout the day, when reading became tedious I started looking at programmes on television which I’d never seen before, such as ‘Are you smarter than a 10-year-old?’ Gladiators, and a number of so-called, comedy programmes. We have known about canned laughter for a long time, this seems more prevalent, but one thing that I found difficult to swallow was the orchestrated hysteria not only among the participants, but in the audience as well. A large proportion of these types of promotions seen to be dependent upon offering incredible sums of money as prize money, thus providing the contestants with stress while deciding whether to take the next step or keep what they have earned. I believe that the ‘are you smarter.’ programme was more intended for the young than the adults. What I found absurd was the children had obviously been trained briefly, to act out of character, with wild gesticulation on their introduction, in order to hype the programme, which on the face of it was basically both slow and tedious. Both it and Gladiators were more to do with talking than action, and in the latter considerable weeping went on which I also think was pure theatre. There is no shadow of doubt that the drop in quality of television, from the point of view of repeats, re-enactments, and what is on offer, was predictable and inevitable, because of the vast number of programmes that are put out every day. We are told that we can switch off if we don’t like what’s on offer, and with the reduction in advertising revenue which is already hitting the industry, I think the quality will drop further and the repeats, especially those from archives that hadn’t been seen for over 40 years will increase. This is not the real problem, the real problem is whether the hysterical hype will find its way into our social lives, because in my view it shows a lack of taste, is pathetic and if it is truly hysterical, a lack of self-control. Today there is yet another anomaly, the cult of the celebrity. I was always under the impression that a celebrity was someone who had reached a high level of achievement in their chosen field, and was thus a household name, and highly respected. On television there are a number of programmes and repeats when so-called celebrities take part in game-shows, the introduction is lengthy because the chosen celebrity is hardly known, outside their television persona. These people permit themselves to be subjected to unbelievable indignities, presumably to enhance their acceptance. Like so much today this is yet another case of quality being sacrificed for a quick buck. The throwaway society by its very name respects little, and is symptomatic of the approach to so much that is on offer today, where money is more important than probity.