POISONING OUR OWN WELLS Back in the days of the Old West, water was a highly sought commodity. People were hung for it; range wars were fought over it, and towns were either made or broken because of access to it. One of the worse sins in the Old West was to poison someone’s water supply. No matter the excuse or alibi supplied, the offender usually wound up at the end of a rope, or in someone’s Territorial Prison. The only thing sadder than this--one poisoning their OWN well. Not only would the offender kill himself or herself; they also ran the risk of taking their OWN families with them! I mention all that to get to the point of this month’s column. When it comes to policing ourselves, brothers, sometimes WE are the worst offenders when it comes to the media and entertainment choices that we make for ourselves--and our families. Believe me, the choices we make DO have long-term impact. Just visit any Funeral Home, Juvenile Hall, or Prison and hear the stories of how someone ‘acted’ out on something they saw, or heard about on television, satellite, DVD, CD, or the Internet. Read the court transcripts on how someone wanted something someone else had (starter jacket, shoes, jewelry) and used a gun or knife to take it--not bothering to think about the end result. In truth: They poisoned their own mind to the point that they believed what they saw. Unfortunately, one can’t blame the media or the entertainment industry when someone decides to shoot up a high school, or go on a crime spree, because it looked like fun when someone did it in a movie. Hollywood has better lawyers than you do. However, WE have more power. All we have to do is turn-it-off, or don’t-buy-the-tickets. But, how many of us have the GUTS to exercise this power? A column that I ran across a few months ago might cause you to seriously consider what you watch, and what you select, when it comes to entertainment. BUT LET ME ADD THIS: It breaks my heart to say this, but it has to be said: There are those of us who LOVE dirt and filth, and DON’T want to change! We KNOW the right thing to do. However, to remain ‘popular’, or to cater to some ‘fantasy’ that is dangerous for our mental faculties, WE KEEP ON WATCHING AND PRODUCING those items that we KNOW are dangerous for our families, our communities, and ourselves. Like the woman who comes to church half-dressed, or undressed and chides the brotherhood for looking; she knew that she was half-dressed, or undressed when she ‘almost’ put her clothing on to leave the house. It was a deliberate, planned act. The same can be said for those who are in the media and entertainment industry, cranking out the filthy and untrue! It doesn’t matter if the hand is white, or black, or brown; or even male or female--trash is still trash when it comes out for public view. Now, those who produce video or audio trash ‘claim’ they are willing to take the heat for the results. Just don’t ask them any questions unless their lawyers are around! Oh sure, they won’t let THEIR kids see the slop; but they are quick to put forth their ‘FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS’ when it comes to pumping ‘their art’ into your home, or onto the screens at the local movie house (which, by the way, they OWN)! THE HOLLYWOOD PITCH: Friend, are you tired of coming home at the end of the day wondering why your ‘get up and go’ has ‘got up and went’? Do you wonder why your wife doesn’t look like Halle Berry? Do you wonder why your kids aren’t as smart as the ‘Spy Kids’? Do you feel like your place of employment is better suited for ‘The Men In Black’? Lastly, do you drive around the city, wondering where all of those great background music tracks are as you pull up to the light in your ‘Hoopdie’? Well my friend, here is your trouble…you’ve been spending far too much time at the movies, in front of the tube with your videos or DVDs, or surfing the offerings from Satellite, Cable, or the ‘Big Three’ networks and their offspring. In short, you’ve let yourself have your mind paralyzed by the magical, mystical, and manipulative world of entertainment. YOU have been poisoning your own well. That which you call your mind. I have the cure. It’s right in your hand. Just take your finger, take it to the off button, and ‘snap’, the set is off, and you can think clearly, once again! IN A STUDY FAR, FAR BEYOND THE LIGHT OF DAY: Now, before you start heading to your computers and dashing off ream upon ream of email, let me back up and say that my opening was intended to get you to THINK. I myself LIKE a good movie or television show. After all, man cannot live by keyboard alone, right? Yet, like the man who has had two gooey, hot fudge sundaes and calls himself ‘dieting’ by washing them down with a Diet Pop, every once in a while; brothers, we have to take a ‘time out’ from the entertainment offerings that Hollywood, the Networks, and the Cable systems sit before us and beg us to sample. Did you know that African-Americans are the NUMBER ONE watchers and consumers of television? According to a recent column by Entertainment Columnist Michael Medved, a new study has found that Black households watch an average of THREE hours MORE television a day than do white, Asian, or Latino families. His column: ‘TV addiction and racial inequality’ can be found at WorldNet daily.com. Read it for yourself. WE watch an average of 74.4 hours a week, according to the article, which represents 21.5 more hours per week than the other racial households. *That’s why our children don’t do better in school. *That’s why our male/female relationships deteriorate. *That’s why we are quick to fight each other, rather than fight for each other. If you see it once, you may pay attention to it. If you see it twice, you know it exists. If you see it consistently, you will make plans to get it. The seed has been planted, and the reaping will take place. Hollywood and the entertainment industry KNOW this. Think they are going to stop? Think they are going to call for a cease fire? Don’t count on it! The African-American community represents a buying block of $500 Billion-plus dollars a year in income. WE don’t invest in, nor care about, ourselves. Again, Hollywood and the entertainment industry KNOW this. The design is to separate us from our money without paying tribute to our common sense, heritage, and community. That’s why Black slang, Black music, and Black culture are quickly disseminated from one coast to another in such rapid fashion. That’s why our image in the mainstream has NOT changed for the better over the years. The negative is highlighted as entertainment. Black achievement is viewed as an ‘happenstance, luck, or byproduct’. Again, Hollywood and the entertainment industry KNOW this. Plus, we haven’t learned how to turn the ‘Idiot Box’ off when it comes to making a statement, nor do we support black-owned businesses, websites, and media outlets so we can, at least, view a balanced image of ourselves. We are poisoning our own wells. Couple this with the fact that America is the number one exporter of entertainment media in the world. Thus, the stereotypes are shipped overseas with every broadcast, tape, and DVD. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE: MTV 2 recently did a documentary on Rap Music. It only took, by their estimates, seven years to spread this aspect of our culture to the mainstream. MTV, by the way, is the largest global entertainment medium on the face of the earth. What makes it onto the screens here quickly makes it overseas, and around the world. And we wonder why white kids are running around ‘sagging and bagging’ and ‘bassing’ on the streets--and we can’t make it into the corporate suites. The image quickly becomes reality at the Human Resources office when the applications go in. But, what of the stuff that is seen on the air? Well, most of it is stereotypical at best. Those who work in the entertainment and news industries know that stereotypes carried works better to convey thought rather than words. Thus, if one wants to make a point--send the image, and let the viewer/hearer form their own picture in their own mind. REAL LIFE 101: Let me close out this month’s column with an illustration from Real Life 101. A few years back, as a teacher, I expressed my frustration at the fact that one could not tell the white kids from the black kids (other than color) at school. I mean the language, the style, the clothing, etc. Carbon copies. “Man, when is this trash gonna stop?” I asked my wife. She looked at me, and didn’t bat an eye as she gave her response. “When the white kids and black kids have to compete for jobs after they graduate.” It boils down to competition, brothers. Plain and simple. If we want to see progress in our OWN communities, we have to stop poisoning our own wells. We have to have the courage to ‘wean’ ourselves and our families from the box--and the box office. Entertainment shouldn’t and can’t be allowed to replace economics, education and empowerment. The biblical admonition is still clear: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” However, there is another nugget of wisdom equally as profound: “The eyes (and ears) are the gateway to the soul.” If the truth be told, some of our windows could stand a little cleaning, and some of our gateways could stand some adjustment. That is, IF we are tired of poisoning our own wells. Those TV Producers and Hollywood moguls, Have created an image of you and me; Not hard working or family loving, But pimping, playing and drugging; On the air--from sea to shining sea. Instead of complaining, or tepidly parading, Why not do something that will cause their junk not to sell; Turn it off, turn it off, tell them all to get lost, That way, you will no longer poison your own well! Mike Ramey is the author of: “The Manhood Line”. A monthly, syndicated column written for men from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. Comments welcome to manhood [email protected]. © 2002 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications International (8).