In my media class, we discuss different forms of media and how media have evolved and changed. This past week, we were discussing television and on Friday we talked about Hulu.
While discussing Hulu, we got off on a little bit of a tangent. MC Gensheimer, our professor, asked the question if in today’s society, we like our anti-heroes. I think this is a very true statement. Characters like Walter White in “Breaking Bad” and Frank Underwood in “House of Cards” are truly complex individuals.
I think that’s why we enjoy shows like that. As viewers, we are over labeling. We are done with TV characters either being athletes or nerds because that’s how we, as people, are in real life. We are complex individuals who don’t fit into labels that society attempts to fit us into.
We may not be vice president of the United States like Underwood and we (hopefully) won’t be cooking any meth like White, but we relate to the personal struggles that they go through: family, money and status. In that way, we are alike and I think that comforts some people.
TV is an escape, much like books, and when we find characters who are similar to us or have similar experiences, it makes us feel just a little less alone.
But then someone in my class brought up a really good point. She said that she finds it interesting how people feel more attached to fictional characters than actual human beings.
She pointed out that people she knows didn’t know the first thing that was happening in the news, but they could tell you everything that happened on the latest episode of their favorite shows.
And when she said that, it really got me thinking.
If we spent as much time invested in news and things around us, and maybe cut back on the television, we would be more informed and caring individuals.
Not only caring, I think it’s a question of empathy. When we watch shows on TV, we allow ourselves to get to know a character before passing judgment on him or her. I mean, look at Underwood. He is a terrible person, but fans still love him.
Frankly, he is probably one of the worst people ever and I doubt any of us know of anybody who is as terrible as he is.
Yet we don’t judge him as harshly as we judge others in our lives. We hear a rumor about someone and we automatically believe it to be true.
I’m not saying to give up on TV or to not be invested in it because I do think it offers us an escape. And putting aside reality television, there are a lot of quality shows out there that are worth watching; the writing and acting are marvelous.
But I think we should apply how we watch TV to the real world. Instead of believing everything we hear about someone, wait to actually get to know the real person.
Everyone has a story and like TV characters, we are complex people. So put the judgment aside until you understand where someone comes from.