The only controls are TV controls

19th January 2001 at 00:00
THIS week we parents struck back. I got a call from Lucy who is divorced with three children and a digibox. Luce is concerned that her kids are spending more time with cable TV than either parent.

Lucy's three - Damien, Sophie and Zak - have a way of occupying a sofa that arises from too many hours in front of the wrong channel. They don't just slouch, slump and sprawl like average pre-teenies, they adopt resentful and belligerent postures, mouths surly, fists in pockets, shoulders turned insolently in the direction of anyone who asks: "Are you still watching this rubbish?" This "rubbish" is nothing that might excite a censor. There is no nudity on the Bimbochannel, only soap operas in which bikini-clad girls argue that they won't be treated like a kid anymore. There is no swearing either, apart from the occasional "Jeez, give me a break, Dad." The problem is that it's so mind-numbingly awful. "They'll grow up without brains," Lucy complained when she asked me over to try to activate her TV's parental-control facility.

It strikesme as symptomatic of our age that parents are often held responsible for their children's actions, while the actual idea of "control" has somehow become reprehensible. Anyone exercising it is a megalomaniac. Even the Prime Minister. The only acceptable controls these days come powered by two AA batteries. Perhaps that's why we had such fun working out how to modify the digibox. Finally, here was one area where we were in absolute control. No social theorist or human rights activist stood tutting as we robbed Damien, Sophie and Zak of their right to watch such drivel as Honeybabe, In Yer Face and The "I'll Do Anything To Get On TV" Show. In fact, we had an orgy, merrily proscribing one channel after another. Like Anthony and Octavian we blithely dispensed with our enemies.

Mind, there were consequences. Lucy's three stomped round to Daddy's. He's got the Bimbochannel and Crappervision, you see. The single parent's authority is always curtailed by what the other parent's up to. Still, it sure felt good while we were doing it.

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