SINGAPORE – Popular entertainment, and not just religious programmes, can convey values in sync with Catholic ones.
That was the bottom line that some 30 participants at the seminar, “Household Saints or Desperate Housewives”, took home on Oct 11.
The speaker, Pauline Sister Rose Pacatte, talked about how one could integrate the Catholic faith with the content broadcast on television and other media. By showing clips from the American soap opera, Desperate Housewives, she illustrated that popular entertainment does have depth and values.
Among the clips shown was a mother reprimanding her children for stealing and getting them to apologise to the neighbour for their misdeed; neighbours rallying together to support and comfort each other in times of tragedy and loss; and the sacrifice of one’s life so that others may live.
In a particular clip from the closing moments of Season Four’s episode “Sunday”, Bree Van de Camp sits together with Lynette Scavo to read the Bible, after resolving a dispute they had earlier in the show.
“What really impressed me at the end,” said Sister Rose, “was that they weren’t reading the Word, but by being the Word…being there for one another.”
She discussed with the participants the values conveyed by the scenes: Sacrifice, friendship and forgiveness, among others.
“As much as we are being entertained, we are being taught by the writer,” she said, although she added that some Desperate Housewives episodes were disappointing for U-turning on values.
On advice for parents grappling with their child’s interaction with media content, Sister Rose said: “What are the values that guide your life? Without a values-based system, there’s no reason to tell the kids not to watch the television.”
She also encouraged the adults to talk to the children or teenagers about what they feel from what they see on television.
Debra Scully, a parent, said: “I find it hard to agree with a lot of things in Desperate Housewives. This seminar gives a new lens to it.”
Ms Scully watches television with her teenage children and discusses with them some of the issues arising from the programme. However, she added, the children don’t immediately raise the issues, so some probing on her part is sometimes needed.
Michelle Aitkins, 30s, another participant at the talk held at CANA – The Catholic Centre, confessed to returning her cable box after getting carried away from watching television. “I shall discern what I watch and try to integrate them with my values system,” she said.
By Darren Boon