Return to International Essays

Sabina Ciani

Television in my Childhood, Adolescence and Today

Television is surely the media that influenced the most my childhood and adolescence. Probably like that of the majority of young people in Italy. My parents have always watched TV while we had dinner and lunch and those moments were (and are nowadays) moments of discussion and comparison of our ideas. That’s the way I learnt the first things about politics, society and that’s the way I began to judge people and events I watched on TV. My life style and my approach to society have surely been influenced by the ideas my parents expressed watching TV. More than I grew, more than I watched TV alone and more than I began to express my own ideas (sometimes in contrast with those of my parents) and form my personality, surely being influenced by TV.

When I was a child, about 5-6 years old, the TV programs I watched the most were cartoons. Those made me dream to become a super-girl or a girl that turns into a beautiful and fashionable famous singer just touching her magic earrings (do you remember the cartoon, “My Name Is Jem”?). I remember very vividly that cartoon and I remember that I woke up earlier in the morning just to watch it before going to school. I looked at it as an example of a successful life and I really thought that that girl should be the happiest woman in the world. That was only a silly cartoon, but it has been for me the first example of that way of life and that idea of happiness that TV proposes (being happy is possible only if you are beautiful, thin, healthy, tanned, rich and with a successful and powerful job). I did not realize that the cartoon I loved was an unrealistic model of life, I realized it much later, when I began to understand that TV isn’t only a way to entertain and learn news but that it’s a powerful media that influences all our lives and creates a lot of illusions, wrong models and stereotypes.

When I was 12-13 years old, my TV heroes were the boys and girls of the American sit-com, “I Ragazzi di Beverly Hills” and once more the life model proposed was something unrealistic and unreachable that created in me a sense of inadequacy. While I watched the sit-com (and I was really addict to it) I contemporarily thought that I wanted become like them and that I would never become like them. Because real life is different. That’s what I began to realize when, 14-15 years old, I looked around me and I understood that reality was different form TV sit-coms and that it was so stupid trying to change it. I also understood that probably TV “makers” were conscious that they were selling unreachable illusions to people and that in some ways they were responsible of peoples’ unhappiness and frustration.

My reaction to this awareness has been refusing most of the teenagers’ favorite programs and idols and taking interest in some idols (in music at the most) that I judged anti-heroes, going against the mainstream. I didn’t know that those models (like Marilyn Manson) were only other unrealistic models, another way to create illusions and influence young peoples’ personality. TV became in that period of my life (until I was about 17 years old) a way to follow my musical heroes and I became MTV addicted! This created more distance between my parents and me, because I didn’t want to watch the same programs they did and they couldn’t understand my MTV addiction. During that period, the lunch and dinner discussions about TV news with my parents became more difficult, because I wanted to be and think different from them and I got angry almost every time we discussed. In that way, TV has been also been in my family the “thing” that started discussions.

Nowadays my relation with TV is less dramatic and I am more indifferent to it. I’m aware that real life is something completely different from TV programs and sit-coms and I am interested only in some information programs, some political talk-shows and some movies. My TV habits have in some ways an influence in my social life because very often it happens to talk with friends, mates or everyone about TV programs. When I do not know a program or a sit-com about some friends are talking about, I may be excluded from the conversation and left apart.

My life in surely an example about the great influence that TV has on our lives and about how much is important to become aware of this and think with our own head.


Return to International Essays