Saturday, December 14, 2013

What In The Sam-and-Cat Hill Are We Doing To Our Kids?

I briefly touched on this in a previous post, but now I am mentioning it again. Over the weekend, I was watching TV with the 7 and 8-year-olds. While flipping through the channels we came to Sam & Cat, a popular show on Nickelodeon. Apparently the show is geared towards teens, however, it airs at all times, when non-teens are watching. 

Sam & Cat

At the insistence of the children, I stopped at that channel and proceeded to play Candy Crush on my iPad. I don't know when it happened, or how it happened, but the next thing I know, I am fully engrossed in this show. It was like a bad wreck that you pass on the interstate - you don't want to look but ya just can't help it. I was shocked, dumbfounded by what I was seeing and to be perfectly honest, it really started to piss me off.

The main characters, Sam & Cat, are described on the show's website as the following; "Sam's loud, independent, and tough as nails, while Cat is sweet as pie and super flighty." Super flighty? More like super stupid! I understand the concept behind highlighting the unlikely match between two opposites, but did that mean they had to make Cat seem as though she had the mental intelligence of someone who is 3 years old?

I actually found it hard to watch. I was embarrassed for this girl who plays Cat. I mean, how does someone actually agree to play that role? I can just picture the interview/casting call now;

OK, we are looking for someone to play the most dizty, flighty, and unintelligent role you have ever, no, lets try that again, only this time, act MORE stupid...come on now, you can do better than that...really look lost...AHA! Perfect! You are the most dumb-acting person we've had so far. You got the part!

The worst part about it was that my kids were watching it like it was nothing. I kept waiting, praying  for one of them to comment on it. Ask me why that girl is acting like that. But nothing. They just sat there, giggled at her "flighty" comments. I couldn't take it anymore. I had to say something.

Me: "Wow, this show is terrible! Why is that girl acting like that? You don't actually think this is funny do you?"
8 yo: "Yeah, I think she's really funny."
Me: "You can't be serious! Why do they maker her so...stupid?"
7 yo: "She isn't 'the s-word', she's just funny."
Me: "No, she isn't funny. They have her acting like the biggest airhead. Exactly what is funny about playing the part of a teen-girl who has the mental capacity of a 3-year-old? What are they teaching you kids? That it is OK to act ditzy and not use your brains?"
8 yo (with an eye-roll): "It is just a show mom. It isn't real."

That last comment made me feel a little better. At least she knows it isn't real, that it is just a show and that they are not "real" people. I couldn't help but wonder, though, what in the Sam & Cat Hill are we doing to our kids?

Why can't there be more shows on real, historical characters that young girls, and boys, can look up to and be inspired by? What about a modern take on Amelia Earhart? A woman who had a dream, and wasn't afraid to chase after it? Or Helen Keller, a woman who overcame many obstacles and beat all the odds to become a successful author, political activist and lecturer.

Amelia Earhart

Helen Keller

Even the American Girl line of dolls have historical characters that mix "adventure with actual events". Problem there is that not many can afford to buy the American Girl dolls. At over $100 for the doll and book, without any accessories, I know I can't afford to buy my three girls all the different characters.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I just getting old? I don't think so. I am concerned about the garbage that we are exposing our kids to. Garbage in, garbage out, right? 

Maybe it is it just up to the parents to make sure their kids know the difference between fantasy and reality. There's a novel concept. To do that, however, we parents need to be present and hands-on in our children's lives. I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the daily bullshit - work, bills, housework, grocery shopping, laundry etc. I know that sometimes, by the time my kids are done with their homework, making them sit down and do their 20 minutes of reading is the last thing I want to do. I would rather curl up in the fetal position on the couch and nap while they watch that mindless crap. But then I remember, if I don't help guide them, who will?

I will carry on telling my children that they can do anything they want with their lives and to dream big, go to college, work hard in school. That they can overcome any obstacles that may seem to be in their way. I will keep reminding my daughters that smart, intelligent women who work hard get so much more out of life than the ditzy ones who rely on their looks to get by. When my son is old enough, I will tell him that he wants to find a woman who is motivated and has her own goals and dreams. 

So, for now, I will continue to take comfort in the fact that the 8 year-old seemingly knows that Sam & Cat aren't real and that they are only "pretending". 

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