Recently I watched the 2007 movie titled, American Gangster. While I loved Denzel Washington’s outstanding portrayal of Frank Lucas, I hated the fact that the movie glorified a drug dealer. The success of the Sopranos, Mob Wives, Growing Up Gotti, and other programs that encourage the demise of our culture, violence, bad language, sex on TV, and poor role models are now the norm. Instead of using these shows as an example of how not to be, we make them heroes, glamorous, bigger than life, and oh so sexy. The gangster, drug dealing, pimp is the new cultural hero. And everyone is in on the act.
I remember, like it was yesterday, the night that the song, “It’s hard Out Here for a Pimp,” won the Oscar for best song. I cried—in shame! I also recall the day Chrysler Motors put Snoop Dog, not only in the same commercial as Lee Iacocca, but in the same scene. What happened…how did we get here?
It is almost hard to remember a time when sex was not advertised on TV right along with mechanics tools, sports drinks, baby food, vacuum cleaners, vitamins, and kitchen towels. In a world where we constantly fight the ravages of addiction, teen pregnancy, and sexual violence, I stopped counting (after 45) how many times I saw someone take a drink (for no good reason), smoke a joint, take a sniff, and take their clothes off—all in a 60-minute hour long 9pm TV program.
Things have changed. I love the fact that the world is forever changing and morphing into something amazing. At the same time, I suspect the days are gone when there was a real distinction between right and wrong, good and bad, healthy and unhealthy.
Who is to blame? Some say it’s the Internet, others say it’s schools, still other folks blame the media. While those things all play a part, in my opinion, the one with the greatest impact on how a child is raised is the parent. I know this will likely open up a windstorm of attacks; so be it.
In the American Gangster, I was amazed in one scene when Lucas’ mother said, “you crossed the line when you killed a cop. We don’t kill cops.” I sat in my seat dumbfound, in total disbelief at what I heard. It was okay that her son—the drug kingpin—killed kids, and especially killed other black folks by selling them dope, but to kill a cop—well that was a no, no.
People attack Lindsey Lohan, yet she is a product of what we’ve created—an unhealthy culture that will do anything for money and attention. Her mom Dina cannot stay out of the clubs, and her dad cannot stay away from the bottle and a TV camera. When Kendra Wilkinson was on the Girl Next Door, as one of 3 sex toys of Hugh Hefner, I was shocked when her mother came to visit for Kendra’s birthday and thought her life style was fabulous. It still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth at the thought of Brooke Shield’s mother encouraging her to do a sex scene in Blue Lagoon—at only 15-years old. And Beyoncé’s mother designs her scantily-clad outfits. Sex sells, even when it means using young girls.
Movies like American Gangster, Scarface, and TV shows such as the Sopranos, Housewives Anywhere USA, Honey BooBoo, and the rest of the lot, make for good TV, but in reality they teach, yet another generation to do anything for money.
Where is our self-esteem when we idolize those who kill us and our kids, and encourage us to make bad choices? Where is our self-esteem when we celebrate the basest part of our existence, and become willing to do anything for money?
We make our own choices as to how we want to live our lives, but it’s important to remember that our choices impact those around us.
What are your thoughts?
I’m Francine Ward, Attorney, Coach, Lecturer, Author and courageous woman opening up the conversation for your thoughts. Join me on my Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, or in a LinkedIn group.