I suppose that television has always been rather liberal. Dallas, for example, presented rich capitalists as a conniving bunch of people. On Thursday night, however, I felt that the liberalism got more blatant.
I watch Eli Stone on Thursday nights. It is about a lawyer with a brain aneurysm who sees visions, which guide him on what to do. He believes that those visions are from God because they equip him to help people. Over the course of the show, he has changed from a self-centered jerk to someone who actually cares for others.
But last Thursday night, I had a difficult time cheering him on. On that particular episode, a teenage girl is suspended from school because she disrupted an abstinence education program. Basically, she played some sexually explicit lyrics over the loudspeaker. She decided to contest her suspension in court, and the foreign singer who wrote those lyrics graciously testified on her behalf. She was restored to school, and she asked for better sex education, the “pass out condoms” kind. The principal said that the school only received money for abstinence education, and so the singer held a concert to raise funds for the pro-condom brand of sex ed. Eli Stone was smiling at the concert, and I suppose that we were all supposed to applaud his heroism.
The liberalism was so blatant. On the stand, the singer excoriated Ronald Reagan for not speaking out against AIDS until it was too late. He also expressed admiration for the American principle of separation of church and state, and fear that it was being undermined. Hmm, I wonder if he was criticizing a certain President when he made that point, one who actually takes his faith seriously. Just a hunch I have.
First of all, most of the federal AIDS programs that exist today go back to the Reagan Administration. But even if Reagan didn’t do as much as he should have, was AIDS his fault? It spread as rapidly as it did because of promiscuous people, many of them homosexual and bisexual. Over time, it entered the heterosexual community.
Second, what is wrong with America respecting Jewish and Christian principles like abstinence? I’d say that we could use more of that value, not less. If more people saw sex as a gift from God for a husband and his wife, then AIDS and other STD’s would not be so rampant. Sex has become cheapened over the years. In one of the sub-plots on that episode of Eli Stone, one of the female lawyers sleeps with a male lawyer because he tells her his father died. When she finds out that his father is still alive, she gets upset. Well, perhaps she should have gotten more acquainted with him before she entered his bed.
At the same time, I think that Eli Stone is longing for better values, on some level. The female lawyer tells the male lawyer, for example, that he has been afraid of truly caring for a woman because he fears that she might leave him. When they are in bed, the male lawyer is disappointed when the female lawyer tries to get up before he does to avoid a deeper commitment. The singer on the witness stand said that he did not view his song as smut because he wrote it when he was in love. In the entertainment industry, there is a hunger for love, caring, and commitment, but a reluctance to embrace the Christian ideas that safeguard those values. Such ideas include the concept that sex is to be reserved for marriage, and that a man and his wife are to love each other until death do them part.
So why do I say that television has become more liberal? When I grew up, I watched L.A. Law. At some point in the course of its run, it brought on board a new character: a lawyer with conservative Christian convictions. She held off the advances of one of the male lawyers, as she upheld the value of chastity before marriage. She also bravely defended the right of a schoolteacher to tell his students about creationism. And the show did not present her as a nut job.
But that was before the Republicans took over Congress and, eventually, the Presidency. In those days, we were an interesting bunch with out-of-the-mainstream ideas (well, not really, but the entertainment industry saw us as such). When conservatives got power and started enacting their ideas into public policy, however, the other side viewed them as more of a threat. And that is why I think that Eli Stone attacked them so.
I liked the episode for one reason, though: the person who played the principal was Ethan Philips, who was Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager. I always wondered how he looks without his make-up!