|The answer? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!|
As a young kid, I wasn't much of a couch potato. Though I had my moments where I was told to turn the television off and do something else, I spent most of my time in front of a computer. I had shows that I liked, ranging from Home Improvement to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers to The Cosby Show to Doug, but Commodore 64 and Mac OS 7 games still took up more of my time than anything else. That all changed in third grade, when I became fanatical over The Magic School Bus, which started as a book series and later became a television show and a line of computer games, only two of which were Mac compatible; yes, I had both. The computer became even less of a focus in fourth grade, when I found out about Growing Pains, and, at the end of the year, Scooby-Doo. I couldn't do much on my computer related to them, since all I had was an antiquated Mac sans Internet, so I spent my time watching them every chance I got. If they weren't on, I went and did something else, but if I could watch them, I did.
Why did I like those shows that much? Well, first off, they were funny; not only that, but they didn't subscribe to the crude mentality that plagued most shows, even back in the nineties. I'd always heard that many shows on our cable were "bad," but it wasn't until a nurse's aide, who was taking care of my oldest sister, watched a rather bawdy episode of Ellen about a sex tape, while I was innocently sitting at my Mac playing Operation Neptune!, that I realized what garbage was out there.
As time went on, I got into other media, some of which included shows (Mork & Mindy, Pokémon, Weakest Link, and Digimon) and some that didn't (contemporary Christian music and Super Smash Bros. Melee, for example). In eighth grade, I was pretty much the retro guy, who was known for adoring Diff'rent Strokes. By the time the year was over, I had also rediscovered Growing Pains and Mork & Mindy; the former even became my number one show just before I started high school. Whatever the shows were, I liked them for the same reason: they were fun, funny, and innocent. I didn't care that many of them were older than me.
It wasn't that far into my freshman year when Growing Pains was removed from ABC Family's lineup, which left me with no way to watch it. For a while, I was so frustrated that I felt like throwing my television in the trash; seriously, without the Seavers, what was there to watch? However, when a younger kid my mom was taking care of, who happened to be well-versed in all things "kiddie" television, showed me Lizzie McGuire, it had me hook, line, and sinker. I'd seen the show previously; an episode on ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney was all about Aaron Carter, and it was followed by the BBMak-themed Even Stevens. Since I couldn't have cared less about either of those musical acts, it made me not want to watch those shows, because it seemed that they were about nothing but such singers. However, seeing Lizzie, albeit for the third or fourth time, made me a fan. Gone were the days of living in the past; my favorite show and actress both became current. Not only was the content even cleaner than most of the classic shows I'd previously liked, but other people my age watched them, and they were still just as fun and funny, if not more so, than Growing Pains and such ever were.
Over the years, I discovered Even Stevens, That's So Raven, Phil of the Future, and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, as well as Nickelodeon's Drake & Josh, all of which entertained me immensely and provided me with many laughs and smiles. I knew many of my friends were watching shows that had plenty of profanity, sexual content, graphic violence, drug use, and such, but I had no interest in joining them; I was happy with, not to mention proud of, my viewing choices.
Towards the end of my senior year, I ditched the Disney Channel as a sacrifice for the infamous "Rewind"; I had given up my celebrity crushes for her, and Ashley Tisdale, who starred in Suite Life, was number two; yes, Anne Hathaway was numero uno. Upon finding out of her significant other a few months after graduating, I went back to them, but, for some reason, I was still somewhat hesitant to watch the Mouse network. When I did one day--completely out of boredom--I laughed so hard that I realized I had been missing out.
The next few years were strange for my television tastes. I went back and forth about American Idol at first, but really got into when Carly Smithson was on there, and my interest intensified even further after Siobhan Magnus joined. That wasn't the only reality show I liked; I also watched HGTV's Design Star, if only because contestant Lonni Paul caught my eye. Still, a kiddie show won out; however, it was Nickelodeon's iCarly this time instead of any Disney sitcom.
I'm sure you all know how I ended up becoming a fan of VICTORiOUS; long story short, watching the pilot after the Kids' Choice Awards on Nick got me hooked. For a while, I largely avoided Disney's shows, but, in the wake of my two favorite Nick shows ending, I ventured back, and was glad I did. Good Luck Charlie, Dog with a Blog, Shake It Up and A.N.T. Farm were all equally entertaining and more innocent than Carly and Tori's shows, but the one that really got me interested was Austin & Ally. Not only is the show cute, clean, and fun, but it stars Laura Marano, who was my favorite kid on the first season of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? (You didn't know those kids were actors and actresses? How else do you think they fooled the adult contestants into thinking they couldn't "save" them, when they actually could?) Between live television and the "Watch Disney Channel" app on my iPad, I have watched plenty of those new-found shows over the past two months.
No matter what kind of shows they were--reality/competition or sitcom--or where they aired--major network or cable channel--the one thing I liked about all of the past and present favorites was their clean content. If they'd been bogged down with the same salacious garbage as Friends or Will & Grace, I wouldn't have supported them. True, some of them did have their moments--"The Breakfast Bunch" episode of VICTORiOUS was terrible, and I muted the TV and watched a movie on my iPad during Lady Gaga's raunchy performance on one of the Idol finales--but, for the most part, they stayed clean.
You may ask why most of the shows I liked/like were/are intended for kids. Simply put, it seems that Disney and Nick shows are the only ones I can find these days that don't have the inappropriate content. Oftentimes, when I read or hear about what's appearing on the major networks or even other cable stations, I'm so shocked that I want no part of it.
That brings me to an important point: Why do I not spend much time with media that is intended for people my age? Simply put, most of it is garbage. Think about it: What kind of media can "young adults" experience that the Disney crowd--ages eight to fourteen--largely can't? Give up? Movies that are rated "R". Still, even though I am well past the "legal age" to watch such a film, I avoid them like the plague; if the secular standard says they're "only for mature audiences," what would God's standard be? The only media intended for people my age that is morally decent are shows that are meant for everyone, such as Jeopardy! (not that many young people bother with it.)
Unfortunately, it seems that most people my age, including Christians, don't subscribe to that mentality. Instead of using discernment, they'll just watch whatever they want and think nothing of it. Christian actor Kirk Cameron had this to say in a Plugged In article:
Pastors and counselors are worn out trying to get through to these kids, who have their affections rooted in both the church and the world. Our young people feel they can attend a Sunday service or a mid-week youth group event, then go to a party and gossip or sleep with their friends without any qualms of conscience. They have no problem lifting their hands and swaying to the latest praise-and-worship CD, then turning around and singing along with Eminem. And when they want to dress like a prostitute and act like one, or watch ungodly movies and television programs, they think parents and pastors shouldn’t have any problem with that. As long as kids feel justified in their pursuit of "personal fulfillment and ultimate happiness" we will always be two steps behind, chasing after them, eating the dust they have kicked up as they pursue the idol of Personal Pleasure.
Yes, he was talking about teens, but that was written in 2003, so those kids he was speaking of are "young adults" now. It seems that they are still chasing that idol; they couldn't care less about what the Bible has to say about such matters. As a random commentator on the Plugged In Facebook page said, "It seems that entertainment is one area where the Devil has a foothold." I couldn't agree more with that statement.
I will conclude with two thoughts. First one: Most people, including some non-Christians, have a weird sort of reverence for a church building. I've heard people young and old make statements while in a church building such as, "I can't say those words here," "We're not listening to that in church," or, "I have some things to say, but this isn't the place for it." What most people don't realize is that the church isn't a building; the people are the church. So, when you're watching or listening to something that you know wouldn't be allowed to be shown or played during a church service or within a church's walls, if you're a Christian, you have to realize: If you're watching it, the Church is watching it, because you are the church!
Last point: Though many would agree that the innocence of my media diet is a good thing, I know, as do some of you, that there was one big problem with it: I was making the entertainers and/or their characters into idols. Though the secular definition of "idol" seems to be "someone you look up to," I took it beyond that. In fact, one friend I hadn't spoken to in a while asked me when we reconnected, "You still worship that one actress?" I had plenty of time to find out all kinds of trivia and other information about my favorite shows and their stars, but couldn't get around to reading the Bible unless I was told to by my mom or literally sitting in church or Sunday school. For me, what Hilary Duff was doing was more important than anything else, including what God had to say. That's actually changed; I have been doing daily Bible readings with audio Bibles for over a year now, and was surprised at how much I didn't know about God's Word. To be frank, at first, I didn't take it all that seriously; I would listen while I was preparing and eating lunch, and usually didn't "rewind" when I missed something. Once, I even did my reading during the commercial breaks of a show I was watching. Now, I always have God's Word in front of me--in most cases, via an iPod or iPad app--while I'm hearing it, so that I can have total immersion. I started with the New Testament, then went back to the Old; I am currently working through Ezekiel. Not only that, but my media diet is much more diverse; whereas I previously didn't "have the time" to read even what I was assigned to--whether it was the Bible or a piece of literature for English class--I now read, watch, and listen to various entertainment, ranging from science-fiction novels to classic rock songs to superhero cartoons to old-school mysteries to current pop songs to teen-centric stories...and it doesn't stop there! That said, idolatry is still a bit of a struggle for me; it is for all of us, though. Whereas I may struggle with "worshiping" celebrities and shows, others' struggles are with the "worship" of sports, relationships, work, and countless other things. I'm trying to be a fan of my favorite entertainment and entertainers without being a fanatic; I think I'm doing pretty well, but I'm always in denial about myself. I never knew I was obsessed with anything until others told me I was. Oh, well; at least I'm giving it my best shot.