Watching TV till the cows come home…

Ok, really I’m not as pathetic as my last post sounded! I do more than sit around and mope….sometimes I even turn on the t.v. ….which has been relatively interesting this week.

***First of all, there was the Democratic National Convention. Those of you who know me well, will not be surprised that I had already made up my mind who I would be voting for in this election. My cynicism and disgust toward the current administration has only grown in its intensity. I will politely refrain from all the things I COULD say here. On the other hand, I haven’t been that excited about my alternatives. John Kerry just seems…..dull…especially when compared to the other Democratic candidates who had been vying for the spot. So, the DNC needed to convince me that if I voted for John Kerry I was going to feel confident that some positive changes would be made when he comes into office. Believe it or not, despite all the rhetoric and pomp and circumstance that generally make me feel MORE cynical, I did end out the week feeling positive for once about the future of democracy and the Democratic party. This was not necessarily due to anything either of the Johns or their wives said however; but from the hope evidenced by Barack Obama. If you missed the speech because it was not televised (except for PBS), you need to see it for yourself.

Here’s a brief excerpt: “….we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief—I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper—that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.”

This is the kind of leader that could restore some of my hope and trust in democracy. If we can find leaders who truly believe this and act upon it, I would be proud to call myself an American.

***On to further and more weighty television viewing….Amish in the City.

I am conflicted about this show. On one hand, it seems exploitive. Here we take relatively innocent and naive young Amish kids and throw them into t.v. “reality” which means an artificial world of money, temptation, strange roommates and cameras in every corner. Can young people who grew up without televisions understand how participating in this show could radically change their lives? Will the Amish even take them back after a rumspringa like this one? Will their lives be “ruined” due to this experience? Is it ok for UPN to exploit the one group that doesn’t have a strong enough lobbying group to prevent a show like this one from airing? After all, “The Real Beverly Hillbillies” was cancelled after huge protests by folks representing the Appalachian community. Would they ever think of airing “Orthodox Jews on a Pig Farm” or “Devout Muslims Living in Las Vegas”? Wouldn’t the outcry from those communities make sure such shows never saw the light of day?

On the other hand, I watched the show last week and was rivetted to the t.v. set. Here were 5 really interesting, relatively articulate, young Amish people ready to explore life in the big city. I felt UPN generally cast the Amish kids in a positive light. In fact the “city kids” came off looking shallow and ridiculous in comparison….particularly the one vegan girl who believes that cows are aliens. I also read an interview with Mose and Ruth who both said that they felt it was a positive experience for them. They would have left the Amish for rumspringa anyways and this show gave them the opportunity to have much broader experiences than they would have had staying in the rural Midwest. (By the way, the one Amish guy “Randy” is from Indiana. Does anyone know anything else about him? He is one hot J.O.!)

There were moments that were definitely worth watching the show for–Ruth’s sheer joy at seeing the ocean and an art gallery for the first time….Mose struggling with his faith–what would happened to his soul if he had drowned while living outside the Amish community? I’ll probably keep watching it even though I agree with Donald B. Kraybill that “…the series will provide little educational information on Amish life and culture. Rather it places Amish teens in a national zoo, of sorts, where millions can giggle and snicker at their way of life. It’s just sensational commercialism at the expense of the real Amish.” (Newswise) —deb who sometimes feels she’s Amish in the city

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