Many of my writings deal with empowering the individual. Essays that I hope enhance and improve the quality of life. Most practice religious beliefs to guide them along their paths, myself included. Overall, there are still other things that can influence our lives on a daily basis. What surrounds us, be it people, radio, television, and books can affect us all directly and even more profoundly, indirectly. What becomes vital for us to realize are all the forces that bombard us that we are unaware of on the surface.

An experiment was performed on the public, watching a movie on television, about two decades ago. A number of frames within the movie flashed a person eating popcorn….and lo and behold, is it any shock that many in the viewing audience started to have an uncanny craving for popcorn? The question can then be asked, if messages are inserted into media, can the people, without their awareness, be controlled? The books on the shelves in our homes, the CD’s in our music collections, the videos in the cabinet, all are packages of information……and what is contained in those packages may give us entertainment, but also influence us.

The Motion Picture Association unveiled this week new ways to stop children from seeing movies that may be harmful to them. Example: No rated R trailers before G Rated movies. Jack Valenti, the President of the Association, made an interesting point, “All these rules of rating will not be of any use unless parents enforce them with their children.” Jack’s point is well taken. Let’s hope it works. In this day and age, where both parents are working long hours, it’s easy for children to get away with things.

Whatever is released to the public….whatever the product, how it affects the overall population and to which age group it should be marketed, should be considered before it is released. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that if a brutal horror slice and dice movie is marketed to children, or a violent video game, with no regulations at all, there will be no surprise as to the influence.

The movie studios have a responsibility for what they distribute….so does the music industry….and last but not least, the parents also. Influence affects people….good and bad. What we take in daily, evolves us as people. We eventually become what we absorb, digest, and believe. Garbage in…..garbage out. Good in, good out. No mystery…..real simple. Some people think that we can absorb whatever we want and still maintain a certain good quality of life. I’m sorry, I don’t.

I don’t believe in government censorship……but I do believe in self-censorship. Each individual decides. If one of those individuals is underage, then the parent decides. Either we set the rules for our lives, or they will be set for us. Influence is everywhere. How much and what kind ultimately matters.

Choose carefully,

Jennifer Avalon
© 2000 Jennifer Avalon

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