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Television: a Bad Teacher

Di Antonio Caneva, 3 maggio 2018

A few years ago they published a booklet by *Karl R. Popper and John Condry, titled Cattiva maestra televisione (Television: a Bad Teacher). Here we read: “We have thus established that the morality of a specific action depends on who performs the action. The correctness or incorrectness of moral behaviour, the way it is shown on television, depends on whether the action is performed by a captivating and admired character, or by a disagreeable person who inspires mistrust. Many behaviours which would normally be judged “immoral” are acceptable if enacted by somebody who enjoys the public’s favour.”

Flavio Insinna: everybody knows the indecent show that was disclosed to the public when some Affari tuoi contestants revealed the true nature of his “do-gooding” conduction; in front of the cameras he did not miss a chance to be kind and compassionate to the weaker, except that, backstage, he was immensely vulgar and cruel to the contestants, he insulted and humiliated them. Now that the programme and the RAI reprimand are over, there is talk that he will be back in September to conduct a new programme.

On Sunday mornings, for many years now there has been a TV programme on Rai Uno with information, gags and insights, always presented by the same anchor, who, in turn, always has a composed attitude, showing understanding towards the problems of society, and in particular those that affect people directly. This, at least, is what we see in front of the cameras. Then, one of the last few weeks, possibly being caught by overconfidence, while presenting a little game played by viewers from home, feeling irritated by a not-too-responsive competitor, he said: I wonder who selects these people? Maybe they are sent by Bonolis, those that he rejects from his quiz show!… I can imagine how that person felt, being humiliated – live!

A nice hotel on the sea front, the sun shades on the terrace are open to protect the breakfast room from the sun. The guests are happy, while the waiters are moving nimbly about to serve the tables. A sweet background music. A relaxed atmosphere. Suddenly we hear excited voices rising in tone. Everybody turns around to see what is happening. A customer is reproaching a waiter, in an agitated and insulting way. We cannot understand the reason for the argument, but we certainly sense the guest’s rudeness. In his morning round to greet the guests, the manager passes by and is approached by the angry customer, who carries on to report the episode, expecting the manager to share his outrage. He, on the contrary, independently of the matter, surprisingly invites the guest to keep a kinder and more respectful behaviour. This is it: respect for the person under any circumstances and in any state of tension. I really admired that manager, and I became his friend.

* Karl R. Popper (1902 – 1994), famous Austrian-British philosopher and epistemologist.
John C. Condry (1938 – 1993), American writer, psychologist and educator.

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