The Super FingerFeb 8, 2012 at 12:42:12 PM
Of the six closest Super Bowls of all-time, the New York Giants have won three of them, and this year was spectacularly close. But the real buzz in the news grinder is M.I.A.’s finger malfunction. The rapper’s impromptu salute during the halftime show has got the Parents Television Council and others up in arms about indecency during family programming.
I'm not a TV watcher, but something tells me that children today are exposed to a lot worse than an errant finger gesture. Of course, this doesn’t mean that watching an episode of Glee will turn a child into a social delinquent. But in Judaism we have a saying: “You are what you see.” Images that enter the mind have a lasting effect – at the least, subconsciously desensitizing us to whatever “indecency” we’re exposed to.
And yes, it can escalate. In the Aish.com article, “The Truth about TV,” Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen cites research that posits a clear correlation between the viewing of “indecencies” like violent crime, drug use, marital discord – and the rate they occur in the real world.
Mussar, the Jewish character-building system, speaks about the idea of Shmirat Einayim – lit: “guarding one’s eyes.” When it comes to inappropriate images, we have the ability to make a choice. Just because something is out there (think of an Islamic beheading video) doesn’t mean we have to watch it.
Making discriminating choices is a value – a skill, actually – that we need to teach our children. And the need for this is growing, with the increasingly constant bombardment of images and information on the Internet, billboards and smart phones. Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt”l offers some practical tools here.
Maybe this Super Bowl incident will draw much-needed attention to what seems to me a genuine educational priority for today.
P.S. Now is a good time to say "hats off" to Rabbi Yaacov Deyo, who invented the concept of SpeedDating in 1998 while teaching at Aish Los Angeles. SpeedDating has garnered dozens of TV and film mentions over the years. On Sunday, before an audience topping 100 million, SpeedDating made its Super Bowl debut in this hilarious commercial for e-Trade.