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Network Television Is The New ‘Circus Freak Show’

By Acadia Otlowski

I was watching television with my significant other a few nights ago and we started to watch a show called “Oddities.” This show centers around a bizarre antique shop located in Manhattan which attracts a unique clientele.

One of the people who came to the shop was there selling her jewelry made out of fingernails. It was while we watched this bizarre show that I realized the hypocrisy of our society.

In our schools, including our colleges and universities, we preach zero tolerance when it comes to bullying. But in our entertainment realm, it seems that there is a complete and utter disconnect.  Some of the most popular television shows are making fun of people because they are less intelligent or different than us. We say that bullying is not acceptable, but when children come home to a show featuring what can only be described as “freaks,” this does not teach the message of acceptance.

It seems that we have replaced the circus with our televisions. Instead of paying to go and see the “the tallest woman you have ever seen,” the common family pays their cable bill and gets to see the slew of “freaks” that the networks have to offer at their convenience.

There’s an overwhelming trend as of late where television networks go out of their way to find unusual people purely for the sake of the entertainment of others.  Is this any different than the behavior we preach against in our schools? The only difference is that the people we mock are paid a great deal of money for their abuse.

Maybe the mocking doesn’t offend them; maybe the money is enough of a prize that it does not matter that they are put on a pedestal and poked fun at, but it does not make up for the confusing example we set for our children. The people who are featured on Oddities seem to have trouble interacting with others. They seem nervous and shy. These are the kids that were picked on throughout grade school. If we watch them and we laugh at them, how are children going to know that this behavior is unacceptable?

When it comes to bullying, it cannot be a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Children have been bullied to the point of suicide which our society ignores the blatant bullying on our network television.

We cannot preach zero tolerance if it does not extend completely into the home. Until we can see that shows singling out a group of people as “different” are not okay there will be no improvement in our schools. Bullying will continue because as a society we have deemed it to be acceptable.