End of innocence on the small screen

Fifteen years have passed since the moral outcry triggered by a Frida Liappa film featuring a young girl in scenes criticized by many for being excessively violent. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but on television the water is dark and murky. We have now reached the point where nothing (or almost nothing) bothers us, nothing pricks our collective conscience and nothing stirs us from our consumeristic lethargy. We devour the scandals, major and minor, the provocations, great and small, with the same ease with which we spend our consumer loans and gobble down our daily meals. The presence of a child on the small screen no longer makes us sit up, even when children are being humiliated, even when they are subjected to a kind of violence which – despite the kid gloves with which it is treated – threatens to forever scar them. But no. I’m not being completely truthful. I have heard a lot of people complain about the exploitation of children that we see on television every day, often presented in the guise of some talent contest. But our complaints and our rage seem ineffective and pointless, just like in so many other matters that are of concern to us. So we exchange views and swap bitter tales before giving up and accepting that things will only get worse. The real question is, however, how can we possibly do otherwise when state television so proudly presents a show such as the Junior Eurovision Song Contest so that it can compete with the ruthless bastions of private television depravity, which invite «little stars» of 7 or 8 years old, tarnishing their glow and dressing them up as small baubles, faux impersonations of children? Children do not go to the studios alone to sing and dance, to listen to the shallow advice of the judges, to compete in an environment that – precisely because it is so fake – is a lot more violent than that of their home or school, where the edge of competitiveness is softened by its naturalness. They are taken to these competitions by their parents, parents who have learned that there is nothing more real than what we see on the small screen, that the only real light comes from the spotlight and not from the eyes of their children. This is why it is unbearable hypocrisy to believe that the problem can be solved by the ombudsman, the National Council for Radio and Television or whichever prosecutor is on duty on any given shift.