During the 1500s in England a burst of literary accom­plishments arose that was never before seen in the history of the theater. In the new idea of theaters, playwrights lifted the Elizabethan Theater to new heights. Men like Shakespeare dared to write plays about real people in a variety of real situ­ations. Through their efforts, Shakespeare produced plays that were far more sophisticated and entertaining than any plays of the past. Audiences expressed their pleasure by demand­ing more and more plays. The public shared a great deal of interest in the theaters and playwrights of this time. People from all over the city of London would travel to experience the drama of the Elizabethan Theater.

The theater was a very important aspect of Elizabethan life in the medieval ages. Life in Elizabethan times was diffi­cult and dangerous. Many people were poor tenant farmers, often living at the mercy of wealthy landowners. Elizabethans sought relief from their harsh lives by attending plays and other forms of entertainment, which made the theater so im­portant to Elizabethan culture. There were many theaters in Elizabethan times, all very similar to each other. However, when William Shakespeare began writing playwrights, his final production was so exceptional, that no other person could compare. With this, Shakespeare was mainly featured at one theater, The Globe. With the popularity of playwrights in the middle ages, the theaters themselves were popular as well. By the late 1500s, performances were becoming expensive, shutting out the non-payers. The solution was to find or con­struct buildings that were suitable for the performance of plays. By the late 1500s, there were over a dozen theaters in the immediate London area. At this time, the most popular theater, “The Theatre” housed the most prestigious of plays. For years, this one theater acted as the center of the town, where the most famous plays were shown. But in 1597, the lease on the land on which “The Theatre” sat expired and the owner of the land would not renew the lease.

In the winter of 1598, while the original owner was away, the people of London decided to move the theater, board by board. They began to rebuild the theater in Southwark, Lon­don, near The Rose, The Swan, and The Hope theaters. After ten months of rebuilding, the theater was later renamed as The Globe in 1598. Upon completion of the newer, revised theater, The Globe actually turned out not to be the largest of its time. The theater was three stories high, one hundred feet in diameter, and could hold as many as 2,900 patrons if de­sired. The Globe Theatre was constructed as a mixture be­tween a Roman Amphitheater and an English Tudor House. The architecture of The Globe was very unique. There was no roof over the actual theater. There was, however, a thatched roof over the stage. The use of a roof over the stage was not only to protect the performers from the weather, but to improve acoustics as well. Two very elaborate, almost flashy pillars held the roof over the stage. The stage itself was rec­tangular and extended into the middle of the auditorium. Vari­ous trapdoors were cut in the center of the stage, through which an actor might disappear or leap forth, as the action demanded. A balcony hung over the rear of the stage and a musicians’ gallery was tucked behind the balcony. Unseen, behind the stage, was the Tiring House. Here is where the actors dressed for the plays. Individual dressing rooms were not a feature of Elizabethan playhouses, so actors were to dress in whatever open space they could find. The Globe Theater was the home to one of the most honored writers of the time, William Shake­speare. Here, Shakespeare wrote, rehearsed, and performed his plays. Inside the theater was very different than one might expect. The Globe was almost always filled to its capacity with people. It was so filled that it was near impossible to move around once inside. In Elizabethan times, people were known not to bathe frequently. With close to 3,000 patrons all rubbing against each other, the stench was quite hideous. Holes in the roof over the stage were constructed to let more wind in, and the stench of dirty bodies out. Rats and fleas were also a very big problem inside the theater. This was mainly due to the audience’s behavior. During plays, audi­ences ate, drank, spat, argued, booed, fought, and even threw fruit at the actors. In 1613, a great tragedy happened. During a performance of Henry VIII, a blast of flaming wadding shot from a cannon and landed on the thatched roof. The building went up flames very quickly. The audience escaped safely, with the exception for one man who was badly burned. Fire was always a real danger in all Elizabethan buildings, since they were usually constructed of wood and thatch.  The dra­peries and thatched roofs were very dry, and burned like a torch if sparked, which was the case in The Globe Theater. There were no fire extinguishers or fire departments at the time, so the normal practice was to get leather fire buckets, fill them with water, and dump them on the blaze. Many years later, a new globe was rebuilt, shortly before Shakespeare’s death. This time, it was constructed with a tile roof and fire exits. It never stood up to the stature of the original Globe, but remained as a memory of William Shakespeare and his theater. The role of the theaters of the Elizabethan Era proved to be a very important one. It gave even the lowest class of citizens of London something to take interest in, and kept them entertained. The theaters opened up many jobs to the nearby citizens.

In conclusion the life and prosperity of the theaters is truly unique. How one man can change a person’s life style, and transform a plain and simple theater to a historical arti­fact to be known for years to come is remarkable. This is why Shakespeare’s Theater, a little thatched building that disap­peared long ago will always be commemorated.





In a world in which acts of heinous violence, murder or crude and shocking behavior seem to be a normal occurrence, it may lead one to wonder what has put society onto this slip­pery slope. How did this type of behavior come to be so ac­ceptable and in some cases glorifiable? A careful study of society may lead to multi media as being the main cause in this changing of ideals. The modern world has become de­sensitized to the acts shown on television, movies, and video games or printed in newspapers and magazines. Censorship must be employed if morals and decency are to be preserved.

Censorship is a controversial word that has been with us since who knows when. Ancient dictators would burn books because they didn’t like them and force people to believe what they did. The question I ask myself, though, is if censorship in Libraries and schools is justified. My answer is yes, and that is what I will try to convince you. Censorship is the act which helps keep the world from being so corrupt.

One of the culprits of criminal behavior is T. V. violence. Violent programs may have a negative influence on those in­dividuals who are already violence-prone, or children who are living through vulnerable periods of their development. Adult violent offenders tend to have shown certain personal­ity features as children, “one being they tended to have viewed violence on television.” The amount of violence on televi­sion continues to grow. “A typical child watched on televi­sion one thousand murders and twenty five thousand acts of violence before finishing elementary school.” When displayed this often, how can people not become desensitized to crimi­nal acts? “By allowing this type of material to be openly ex­posed to the public we are endangering safety and society’s values.” Without control of what material is delivered to the masses, we cannot expect people to have a proper sense of right and wrong as they will constantly see the horrific things that happen in the false reality of the media and become immune to feelings of disgust toward such atrocious deeds in real life. Controlling what is viewed on television is the responsibility of the government in order to decrease violence in the real world.

Pro Censorship

With today’s such profound increase in violence, sex crimes, teen pregnancy, and other corrupt acts on today’s so­ciety one cannot help but to turn to television, movies, internet, and video games. These uses for entertainment have to be a cause of criminal behavior. Evidence that shows censorship may be positive is explained when we examine what drives delinquent activity. “To see this, we must take a look at what is inside the mind of a criminal. Eighty-one percent of crimi­nals rate pornography as their highest sexual interest. This means that a clear majority of criminals like pornography and find it highly interesting. Most other people probably rank other human beings as their highest sexual interest.’ Further evidence of the relation between pornography and crime is seen when an adult bookstore is closed; the crime rate in the surrounding areas falls significantly. With this we see that censorship is a helpful idea for America. People don’t realize that violence on television or video games does have effect on them. Take, for example, the video game “James Bond,” one of the highest selling games ever. This games put you in the eyes of an assailant and makes killing look like fun, or that it’s no big deal. Another example is sex on T.V. A boy that has been brought up with never watching sexual explicate material or being surrounded by people that talk about sexual activities, would be less likely to be as interested in the prac­tice of sex, as a kid that watches porno all the time, making him less likely to commit a sexual crime. “A lot of people in the world are against censorship just for the mere reason they say it’s unconstitutional;” they believe it is taking away from free of speech and choice. Censorship is not taking away the rights of citizens; it is protecting the rights of people who do not wish to be exposed to certain things. It is also a great tool in preserving morals and social order. Violence in things such as movies and pornography are obvious to encourage crimi­nal or immoral behavior. Violent lyrics in popular music also tend to foster such behavior. Music is for inspiration as well as entertainment, but like a teacher drilling vocabulary words or history facts into your head, so does music. My dad always told me he wished I would know my English like I know the words to this or that song. With today’s songs containing materials with vulgar language and talking about drugs and killing, you cannot help but believe that this does have ef­fects on people. In another example, Mr. Raymond Kuntz re­ferred to his son’s incident: “When his wife went to wake their son for school, they found him dead of a gunshot wound, still wearing his headphones with Marilyn Manson’s “Anti-Christ Superstar” CD still in the player. The boy’s favorite song was “The Reflecting God” However, the artists and producers defend the musical lyrics, and claim that these acts come purely from self-inspiration, not extrinsic influence such as their music. If this were true, then why would fifty nine percent of substance abusers name heavy metal as their favorite type of music?

Another issue that deserves addressing is the lack of cen­sorship in public facilities. Librarians have often complained about the lack of control they have over what the patrons view on the computers in the library. Websites featuring pictures of lewd sexual acts are often left to be displayed on the screens for library workers and other patrons to find who do not want to see this kind of material. Some patrons are often children, these being the people who should be protected most from this type of exposure. This type of atmosphere also leads to increased sexual harassment. People unwilling to view things such as pornography should not have to be subjected to this matter in order to do their job or use a public computer. Clearly, censorship in this type of situation would be of a great ben­efit to society.

When these points are taken into account we can see that censorship is a necessity in society today. It will allow our children a better chance to develop in a healthy way. With­out crime being pushed onto society every day, deviant thought might not be so deeply set into impressionable indi­viduals. In addition, people would not have to worry if they are going to view something that will disturb them when they want to use a public service such as a computer at a library. Censorship is not taking away the rights of citizens; it is pro­tecting the rights of people who do not wish to be exposed to certain things. It is also a great tool in preserving morals and social order. Violence in things such as movies and pornogra­phy obviously encourage criminal or immoral behavior. Re­stricting such materials to certain times and places may keep them being viewed as taboo, and not allow them to become the norms of society. When these grounds are considered, we can see that censorship is a beneficial tool and must be ap­plied in order to keep society at a safe, respectable, and just level.

Con Censorship

To look at the other side of this subject, the question to be asked is censorship in libraries and schools is justified. The answer is no, and that is what will be explained. Censor­ship is ridiculous, unfair and selfish, and censors are hypo­critical, intolerant, and arrogant. What I mean when I say cen­sorship is ridiculous is exactly that. In censorship opposing Viewpoints, “it states that the American Heritage Dictionary was banned from Anchorage, Alaska because of words con­sidered to be obscene, like bed, tail, ball, and nut.” At first we laugh at it, but we stop when we hear it has also been banned in Cedar City, Indiana, and Eldon, Missouri. “The percent of other dictionaries were banned in Texas.” These people that ban them call themselves People for Better Education. I thought dictionaries help you learn? An article in Scholastic Update entitled “The Case of the disappearing Books” it says “last year there were 338 cases of parents trying to remove books, among these was the classic Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.” A teacher was fired because she assigned a book with a lesbian as a main character. A parent, Ruth Somoro, said “this was being intolerant of religious beliefs, and schools aren’t supposed to promote religious beliefs.” The Supreme Court ruled books couldn’t be removed because they dislike the ideas in them. A student says, “They don’t let me bring God into school, so I don’t think they should be able to bring the devil into school.” This boy thought homosexuals de­scended directly from the devil.

Religious Right people seem to think that if you have a word in your vocabulary such as, academic freedom, analy­sis, career education, creative writing, human growth, iden­tity, parenting, racism, world view, and self-understanding, (there are others but this gets all of the human race), you are a secular humanist. This has now become known as anyone with other beliefs than the Religious Right; it is a code word for communism. These people are part of a conspiracy against America and dare also communists who shouldn’t have a say in anything. This is from an essay in Censorship opposing viewpoint, by Michael Scott Cane. The second aspect that censorship is unfair and selfish deals with our rights and the First Amendment. A quote from Nat Hentoff in “The Case of the disappearing books, “says,” The First Amendment doesn’t just give you the right to express ideas, there’s also a right to receive them.” We have the right to read any book we want and educate ourselves: the library plays a big part in this. Guess what, we also have the right to choice and we can choose not to read something if we don’t like the content, that doesn’t mean we have to force others not to read it. The Religious Right seems to be forcing their beliefs on us, and we also have freedom of Religion. The Religious Right is trying to take over the libraries locally. The libraries would then be “family friendly” with parental advisory sections because they feel it is Gounaud in an article from the education Digest, “The Religious Right Hits Libraries.” The Religious Right doesn’t agree with ALA’s Bill of Rights, which is totally anticensorship. I think these people must be protecting them­selves from the outside world, not watching news or reading newspapers to see what really happens and the horrors peo­ple have to go through every day, we learn about them some­time. I feel bad for their kids. The last point is ever so true. Censors are the most arrogant, hypocritical, intolerant people ever. In Censorship Opposing Viewpoints the essay by Michael Scott Cane also says, “Secular humanism causes falling test scores, declining values, lack of Christian morals, poor gram­mar, situational ethics, and other things they disapprove of.” “It is destroying the family, wrecking society, and wiping out the minds of children.” I don’t see this happening. They also said how much better everything was when in Public School they taught praying and the bible, back in the old day. I don’t think so. A problem is that there is no compromise; there are no neutral parties. In “The Religious Right Hits Libraries” Karen Jo Gounaud says “there is too much material that un­dermines traditional values” and traditional family.” The term traditional is problems. They cannot solve all problems by forcing beliefs on you. They think if you do not have their beliefs you will corrupt society? The Religious Right also says “the Liberal Left censors and undermines education, how hypocritical is that?” The Religious Right also says the Lib­eral Left censors and undermines education.” Who is to say whose moral beliefs are correct? With censorship you are say­ing with absolute certainty that your, and not being tolerant of others.


Many believe censorship keeps the U.S. from being cor­rupted, other say that it takes away from our rights as an American. Without censorship we are exposing our youth to criminal’s favorite viewing and hobbies. The youth will be­come more corrupted thus giving in to more criminal activi­ties. If you do not support censorship then you are supportive in the act of making our youth into criminals.

If we do not expose our youth to the evils in the world then how do they know right from wrong when they run into it? If we do not show them what effects drugs, sex, and vio­lence can have on them then they will not know what the harm in those things is. If we show a kid, on TV a person that got shot and the sadness it brings to that person’s family or other love ones then they will be more likely feel sadden them, or at least angered by the gunman.

Censorship has many pros and cons to it, many people disagree with it, and many support it. The debate on censor­ship will go on forever without ever being resolved. In this day of age censorship is more of a choice with programs on TV, Internet, and even Video Games that allow blocking ones son or daughter from viewing. Censorship is a controversial word that has been with us far backing as we can remember.




The Internet, or the World Wide Web, is a great means of obtaining anything that is in almost any part of the world. An easy way to think about this is just “millions of comput­ers that can talk and share information” (Clark 1). The web broadcasts more information than any other medium in the world right now. There are several problems that have emerged with the startup of the Internet, “Almost as soon as the public began to use the Internet, people began to express concern about its use” (Clark 1). Several groups feel that the World Wide Web is dangerous because of its open accessibility, whereas other groups see that the Internet is something that is good and can be used to spread and increase knowledge world­wide. Due to its beneficial wealth the Internet should not be censored because censorship would restrict Americans’ first amendment rights; regulations have been tried and have failed in the past, and there are better methods of education and protection than censorship.

The rights put forth by the first amendment protect the Internet. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assem­ble, and to petition the Government for a redress of griev­ances” (Wallace). In layman’s terms, this means that the gov­ernment does not have the right to take away freedoms that involve speech or the press of the American people. The Internet’s lack of censorship encompasses Americans’ free­dom because of the first amendment.

The World Wide Web started as an idea that focused around the government’s need to communicate if there was a real war. In 1964 the Cold War was at its peak, the Advanced Researched Projects Agency, or ARPA began researching and developing a way to get computers to “communicate with each other,” this is how it all started (The Internet’s History and Development). The government scientists who were, “de­veloping networking technology in the 1960’s knew that what they were building would be far bigger than themselves; no­body, however, could have predicted the explosion in Internet access and interest in the past several years” (The Internet’s History and Development).

The government’s idea of an easier way to communi­cate during wartime became a reality slowly but steadily when “On January 2, 1969, designers began working on an experi­ment to determine whether computers at different universi­ties could communicate with each other without a central sys­tem.” The first places to have access to the new “network” were some of the most prestigious colleges in the United States; Stanford and UCLA were among the first. Also dur­ing this year, the ARPA launched its new creation, the ARPAnet (sic), which was the main attraction at Washington D.C.’s International Conference on Computers and Commu­nications (The Internet’s History and Development). In 1972, the Department of Defense began to oversee and finance the ARPA project and ARPA became DARPA.

Better technology was created and approved for use by the government in the mid-seventies, and in January, 1983, a major jump was made in how files were transferred. This was thought of by many to be the birth of the World Wide Web. From 1983 to 1995, several new characteristics were brought into the network to improve and sophisticate it. On April 30, 1995, the Internet was released to the world; the government gave total control to the user and took all hands off (The Internet’s History and Development). The Internet was now growing at a huge rate and would not be slowed down.

By 1996 both Microsoft and Netscape were at war over which Internet web browser would prove to be the better of the two; there were 12.8 million hosts, and half a million websites. In only a year the number of hosts was up to 19.5 million and there were one million web sites (History of the Internet). The idea of a network between computers took a strong hold in the minds of Americans and all over the world. The idea sprouted faster than almost any other technology known to man.

Also known as the “information superhighway” the Internet has almost limitless possibilities because Users can diagnose a ‘virtual patient,’ tour an art mu­seum, listen to a new song, view a baseball play, or chat with a scientist in Antarctica. They can also meet people who want to have sex with children, learn how to make illegal drugs, read racist propaganda, or find out how to make a bomb from common household ingredients. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all easily-accessible. (Day 70)

Despite the danger and risks associated with and around the World Wide Web, it should still be a safe haven from censoring and a place where people can go to speak their minds.

America’s government has tried in the past to censor the Internet. An example of this is the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, which was a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (ACLU v. Reno II). Due to the CDA, “speech which is quite legal in a book or magazine should be banned from the Internet” (Wallace). This part of the Telecommuni­cations Act of 1996 criminalizes what the Government thinks is “indecent” speech on the Internet (Wallace). The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, stated in the Supreme Court brief before the ensuing lawsuit “The CDA is unconstitutional” (ACLU in the Courts).

According to the Citizens Internet Empowerment Coa­lition, a group that supports the freedom of expression on the Internet, “the CDA severely restricts the first amendment rights of all Americans and threatens the very existence of the Internet itself. Although well intentioned, the CDA can never be effective at controlling content on a global medium” (Citi­zens Internet Empowerment Coalition). If the CDA were to be implemented anything on the web would be forced to meet the accepted laws of any community. The communities with the strictest guidelines would regulate the more liberal popu­lation’s access (Wallace). The CDA does not allow Ameri­cans the freedom of speech that they are granted in the first amendment.

Several other regulations have been tried and have not succeeded on the World Wide Web. In February of 1996, the Communications Decency Act was made law. This new law made it illegal to transmit material that was thought “inde­cent” or “offensive” on the World Wide Web (ACLU v. Reno II). Another item that should be mentioned about this is that, “the CDA is not about child pornography, obscenity, or using the Internet to stalk children. These are already illegal under current law. Instead, the CDA prohibits posting “indecent” or “patently offensive” materials in a public forum on the Internet — including web pages, newsgroups, chat rooms, or online discussion lists” (Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition). This law breaks the first amendment in an extremely flagrant and intolerable way.

The Communications Decency Act also, “makes it a crime, punishable by up to two years in prison, for anyone to use online computer communications to transmit or ‘display in a manner available to minors’ any material that is ‘inde­cent’ or ‘patently offensive'” (ACLU in the Courts). The per­son who is transmitting this material would be tried in court, based solely on the government stating that the material is indecent. The person does not have the option to decide what they feel is offensive and this is a severing of the first amend­ment in the utmost deliberate and brazen way possible. The government would, in essence, be infringing on Americans’ rights to the fullest extent. The web user would have little say in what they viewed on the World Wide Web anymore.

Courts in the United States have found the Communica­tions Decency Act as unconstitutional. An example of this happened “In 1997, [when] the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union that [the] CDA was an unconstitutional restriction on the Internet, a ‘unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication’ deserving of full First Amendment protection” (ACLU v. Reno II). The Supreme Court decided the outcome of this case in total agreement. All nine justices ruled that the CDA was un­constitutional and that the Internet deserved the full extent of the first amendment protections that all Americans get. Not a single one of the Supreme Court justices thought that the CDA was a good and constitutional act. They all agreed that the CDA was a major blow to first amendment rights of Ameri­cans.

The Child Online Protection Act, or COP A, was another bill that was intended to censor the World Wide Web, and “In October 1998, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Child Online Protection Act, the “sequel” to CDA. The COPA Commission, a group that tries to protect civil liberties, stated that the law might cost anyone accused of the offense “up to $50,000 per offense, prison terms of six months, or both”(COPA Commission). Prominent organizations, like the ACLU, also state “COPA establishes criminal penalties for any commercial distribution of material harmful to mi­nors” (ACLU v. Reno II). The Child Online Protection Act is considered, “a broad censorship law that severely restricts any speech on the Web that is ‘harmful to minors,’ and im­poses steep fines and prison terms for violators”(ACLU v. Reno II). Both Congress and the President approved COPA. COP A is almost as constricting a law on the first amendment as the Communications Decency Act (ACLU v. Reno II). This unjust law “was immediately subjected to a First Amendment challenge by the ACLU and a group of other plaintiffs” (COPA Commission). Like the CDA, COPA was stopped before it could begin, “the federal district court in Philadelphia issued an injunction preventing the government from enforcing COPA. That court held that COPA was invalid because there is no way for Web speakers to prevent minors from harmful material on the Web without also burdening adults from ac­cess to protected speech” (ACLU v. Reno II). The injunction occurred in February of 1999 and if it had not happened than the Internet might not exist today.

Another separate court found that any restriction what­soever on the Internet is in opposition to the first amendment and is therefore not acceptable in America. On June 22, 2000, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found again that COPA was in violation of the first amendment, this time though, “Because of the peculiar geography-free nature of cyberspace, [COPA’s] community standards test would essentially require every web communication to abide by the most restrictive community’s standards” (ACLU v. Reno II). A community in an entirely different part of the country could be deciding what is appropriate in another part of the country.

An example of a lawsuit dealing with the Internet cen­sorship argument occurred on July 18, 2002. The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, filed a lawsuit regarding prisoners of Arizona being online and publishing informa­tion regarding their own case records (ACLU Press Release: 07-18-02). The law, entitled Arizona House Bill 2376, “bars prisoners from corresponding with a ‘communication service provider’ or ‘remote computing service’ and disciplines prisoners if any person outside prison walls accesses a pro­vider or service website at a prisoner’s request” (ACLU Press Release: 07-18-02). Although prisoners are locked up for com­mitting crimes, they still deserve some of the rights listed in the first amendment. Even if they tried to get their informa­tion off of the Internet, they would be in violation of the law because they would have had to communicate with a service provider (ACLU Press Release: 07-18-02). Arizona House Bill 2376 is obviously a hypocritical and unjust law.

On July 25, 2002, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in order to force N2H2 Inc., a software company located in Seattle, to allow researchers to study N2H2 filtering programs and pub­lish results of how the company’s software works in comput­ers (ACLU Press Release: 07-25-02). According to the ACLU, “Several studies have documented serious flaws in N2H2’s blocking program and in similar programs” (Edelman). The program apparently has a contract that must be signed before use of the program can commence. The contract has an entire list of web sites that may not be accessed under any circum­stances. The company in the lawsuit, N2H2 inc., must allow researchers to investigate how the software works and pub­lish the findings in a way so the consumer and the public involved know what is happening with use of this software.

Rather than censoring the Internet, many groups sup­port education about the Internet. There are numerous ways to protect or educate families about the dangers of the Internet and the uses and advantages of the Internet without censor­ing the World Wide Web. If “Childhood specialists univer­sally criticize parents who allow their children to vegetate in front of the TV unsupervised; [then] the Net raises the same issues of parental responsibility” (Wallace). The Internet is just like the television; it is a medium to bring information into a home. Parents, not the United States government, should decide what is not only acceptable, but what is inoffensive, for their children to view online. Censorship is an issue that should be controlled at home, without the government’s su­pervision. Even if a censorship law were to be passed, “Adult supervision of Internet use is the most common way of con­trolling the information children can access on-line” (Day 68).

The government’s best laid plan for censorship of the Internet, the CDA, doesn’t even help the government protect the children that they want to protect (ACLU in the Courts). To clarify, the government’s programs to try and stop the dis­tribution of so-called “indecent” materials will not work at all. Even if the government tries to limit the amount of mate­rial that gets through, they will never be able to cut it all off. The idea of a government controlled censorship program is an infringement on Americans’ rights and is completely un­constitutional. Besides, internet “users … can prevent their children from viewing objectionable material, whether sexu­ally explicit or otherwise, by employing inexpensive and easy-to-use blocking and filtering technologies which can filter based on the individual tastes and values of parents, not the federal government” (Citizens Internet Empowerment Coali­tion).

There are also software alternatives to control that can be strictly enforced by the government. There are several pro­grams that have been created just to filter the World Wide Web and let only what is desired by the user get through. Parents should be responsible enough to watch their child’s Internet usage anyway, and filtering software like Net Nanny or Cyber sitter can be purchased. The government’s censor­ing is not a guarantee, and “Family education imposes little or no cost on publishers of otherwise lawful harmful to mi­nors materials and creates little adverse impact on privacy, First Amendment values, or law enforcement” (COPA Com­mission).

There are also other resources that can be used to under­stand the Internet and its dangers. Online information, like educational websites, is one of these resources. They do “not directly prevent… access to harmful to minors materials, online information resources are essential to protecting chil­dren, as they can effectively provide access to technologies, information for families online, and hotlines to reach and re­port to authorities” (COPA Commission). Families should be able to find ways to educate themselves about the dangers and advantages of the Internet.

There are also “Active outreach [programs] to educate families about both the opportunities and dangers of the Internet, as well as the technologies and practices that can optimize a child’s experience online — with a goal of en­couraging families’ involvement with their children’s online experience and wider adoption of common sense practices” (COPA Commission). Parents need to be able to watch their child’s online activity and be responsible for the sites that their children visit regardless of how little time the parents have to spend with their children. Parents cannot just let their child or children control their own online experience, getting into things that are not appropriate. This responsibility, al­though some might see it as the governments’, is actually that of the parents.

The World Wide Web is an extremely useful tool and does play a major part in society, regardless of the dangers. The Internet has a gigantic role in the growth of technology in America and in the world as well. If the United States government puts any constraints on the Internet, then the First Amendment will be broken. Due to the freedoms granted to the citizens of the United States by the First Amendment, the Internet should never be censored in America.




Before I saw “Neighbours”, I didn’t know there was an Australia. The soap opera genre originated in American radio serials of the 1930s, and owes the name to the sponsorship of some of these programs by major soap powder companies. Proctor and Gamble and other soap companies were the most common sponsors, and soon the genre of ‘soap opera’ had been labeled. Like many television genres (e.g. news and quiz shows), the soap opera is a genre originally drawn from radio rather than film.

Television soap operas are long-running serials tradition­ally based on the close study of personal relationships within the everyday life of its characters. Soaps are a consistent set of values based on personal relationships, on women’s re­sponsibility for the maintenance of these relationships and the applicability of the family model to structures. In soap operas at least one story line is carried over from one episode to the next. Successful soaps may continue for many years: so new viewers have to be able to join in at any stage in the serial. In serials, the passage of time also appears to reflect ‘real time’ for the viewers: in long-running soaps the charac­ters age as the viewers do.

The longer they run the more impossible it seems to im­agine them ending. There are sometimes allusions to major topical events in the world outside the programs. Soap op­eras have attempted to articulate social change through is­sues of race, class and sexuality. In dealing with what are often perceived to be awkward issues soap operas make good stories along the emotional lines of the characters. While it seeks to accommodate change, it tries to do on the basis of suppressing difference rather than acknowledging and wel­coming what it offers.

Soap operas use the dramatization of social issues to generate a greater sense of realism for the viewer. Like the melodrama genre, the soap opera genre shares such features as moral polarization, strong emotions, female orientation, unlikely coincidences, and excess. Another related genre is the literary romance, with which it shares features such as simplified characters, female orientation and episodic narra­tive. However, soaps do not share with these forms the happy ending or the idealized characters.

Some media theorists distinguish between styles of TV programs, which are broadly ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’. Those seen as typically masculine include action/adventure pro­grams, police shows and westerns; those seen as more ‘femi­nine’ include soap operas and sitcoms. Action-adventures define men in relation to power, authority, aggression and tech­nology. Soap operas define women in relation to a concern with the family.

For example in Neighbours the love triangle between Karl Kennedy, a married man and his secretary Sarah. View­ers knew the secret of the affair however; it was not by Susan Kennedy, or the Ramsey Street community. Therefore allow­ing the secret to maintain its status and continue to be a valid plot thread. Although Karl has attempted to institute some redressive action, by taking a holiday with his wife, the crisis still exists. As there has been no redressive action directed towards Sarah the crisis still exists in the minds of the viewer.

This all too common love triangle in soap operas sug­gests to the viewer about what is right and wrong in a rela­tionship. Suggesting that infidelity is wrong and that the fam­ily should come first. By creating situations that violate the ideal order of the family, the soap opera will communicate to its audience about family life.

Recurrent themes in soap opera include love, courtship’s, secrets, marriages, divorces, deaths, scams and disappear­ances. Gossip is a key feature in soaps (usually absent from other genres): in part it acts as a commentary on the action. More frequently than other TV genres, soaps feature women characters normally excluded by their age, appearance or sta­tus. These themes are reoccurring and repetitive and become the thread of each story.

With each different character going through all of these themes at one stage, the different stages of social drama get repeated often. However, the themes can also be linked to one another to create more drama for the audience. Such as in Neighbours, Joel and Sally are in the beginning stage of their romance (courtship), however he also has strong feelings for Libby (love) and Drew is the only one who knows about it (secret).

Television has become the major socializing agent com­peting with family, school, peers, community and church. It is for this reason that the above themes are so prevalent in Soap operas such as ‘Neighbours’ as it is competing with the interest in our everyday lives.

Neighbours give us disturbances of the normal and regu­lar, to give us greater insight into the normal. Unconscious or a temporal structures of what people believe they do, ought to do, or would like to do discussed by Turner helps to ex­plain what Neighbours portrays, and why it can compete with our everyday lives. Broadcast serials have the advantage of a regular time-slot (often more than once a week), but even if some viewers miss it, they can easily catch up with events. Any key information that might have been missed is worked into the plot when necessary. Nevertheless knowledge of pre­vious events can usefully be brought to bear by habitual view­ers, and doing so is part of the pleasure of viewing for them. Viewers also in an omniscient position know more than any character does. The form is unique in offering viewers the chance to engage in informed speculation about possible turn of events.

Recognizing how soap operas provide ‘a continuing re­newal of the familiar’, interviews with and observation of soap fans show that the sharing of information and opinion after the program is over is as important to viewers as the actual following of the stories. Soap operas are pleasurable because they do not surprise the audience or try to change attitudes. Instead soap operas offer a reassurance that the world is not changing as quickly as it seems. Soap operas deal with the victory of old fashioned and traditional certainties over evanescent fashions that assail them. Unlike a film or a se­ries, there is always a wide range of characters in a soap op­era (which means that no single character is indispensable). The large cast and the possibility of casual viewers necessitate rapid characterization and the use of recognizable ‘types’. Soaps are frequently derided by some critics for being full of clichés and stereotypes, for having shoddy sets, for being badly acted, trivial, predictable and so on. Soap viewers (often as­sumed to be only women, and in particular working-class housewives) are characterized unfairly as naive escapists. Given the great popularity of the genre, such criticisms can be seen as culturally elitist.

To emphasize what happens when in soaps (in semiotic terms the syntagmatic dimension) is to underestimate the equal importance of who relates this to which (the paradigmatic dimension). Some feminist theorists have argued that soap operas spring from a feminine aesthetic, in contrast to most prime time TV. Soaps are unlike traditional dramas (e.g. sit­coms) which have a beginning, middle and an end: soaps have no beginning or end, no structural closure. They do not build up towards an ending or closure of meaning.

Viewers can join a soap opera at any point. There is no single narrative line: several stories are woven together over a number of episodes. In this sense the plots of soaps are not linear. The structure of soaps is complex and there is no final word on any issue. Soap involves multiple perspectives and no consensus: ambivalence and contradiction is characteris­tic of the genre. There is no single ‘hero’ where the preferred reading involves identification with this character), and the wide range of characters in soaps offers viewers a great deal of choice regarding those with which they might identify. All this leaves soaps particularly open to individual interpreta­tions more than television documentaries.

The structural openness of soaps is an essentially ‘femi­nine’ narrative form. Pleasure in narrative focuses on closure, whilst soaps delay resolution and make anticipation an end in itself. She also argues that masculine narratives ‘inscribe’ in the text an implied male reader who becomes increasingly omnipotent whilst the soap has ‘the ideal mother’ as inscribed reader. Narrative interests are diffused among many charac­ters and her power to resolve their problems is limited. The reader is the mother as sympathetic listener to all sides. Soaps make consequences more important than actions, involve many complications, and avoid closure. In soaps dialogue blurs and delays. There is no single hero in soaps, no privi­leged moral perspective, multiple narrative lines and few cer­tainties. Viewers tend to feel involved interpreting events from the perspective of characters similar to themselves or to those they know.

For example in Neighbours Hannah Martin made a number of phone calls to a physic line (action), which cost her father a great deal of money. However, the consequence of this has become a plot thread for many episodes as Hannah not only has had to get a job to pay for the bill but also must pay for all of her local phone calls. This has also led to prob­lems with her stepmother Ruth monitoring this consequence. Once again focusing on the family element of a soap opera. Not much seems to ‘happen’ in many soap operas because there is little rapid action. In soaps what matters is the effect of events on the characters; this is revealed through charac­ters talking to each other. Charlotte Brunsdon argues that the question guiding a soap story is not “What will happen next?” but ‘What kind of person is this?’ Such a form invites view­ers to offer their own comments.

Minimal post-production work on ‘realist’ soaps (leav­ing in ‘dead’ bits) may be cost-cutting, but it also suggests more ‘realism’ than in heavily edited programs, suggesting the ‘now’ of the events on screen. Published stories about the characters in soaps and the actors who play them link the world of the soap with the outside world, but they also allow viewers to treat the soap as a kind of game. Watching soaps involves a kind of psychological realism for the viewer: an emotional realism, which exists at the connotative level. This offers less concrete, more ‘symbolic representations of more general living experiences’ which viewers find recognizably ‘true to life’. In such a case, ‘what is recognized as real is not knowledge of the world, but a subjective experience of the world: a “structure of feeling'”

For many viewers of soap operas this was a tragic struc­ture of feeling: evoking the idea that happiness is precarious. Viewers familiar with the characters and conventions of a particular soap may often judge the program largely in its own terms (or perhaps in terms of the genre) rather than with reference to some external ‘reality’. For instance, is a charac­ter’s current behaviour consistent with what we have learnt over time about that character? The soap may be accepted to some extent as a world in its own right, in which slightly different rules may sometimes apply. This is of course the basis for the6 willing suspension of disbelief on which drama depends. Producers sometimes remark that realistic drama offers a slice of life with the duller bits cut out, and that long-running soaps are even more realistic than other forms be­cause less has to be excluded. There are several broad stere­otypes used extensively in soap operas, Grandmother Figures; marriageable characters (mature, sexy, women; spinsterly types; young women; mature, sexy, men; fearful, withdrawn men; conventional young men); married couples; rogues (in­cluding ‘ne’er-do-wells’ and confidence tricksters). Bucking­ham refers also refers to the use of the stereotypes of ‘the gossip’, ‘the bastard’ and ‘the tart’.

Soap opera characters and stories draw on fundamental human traits Maire Messenger Davies suggests that ‘nothing goes wrong in Neighbours for very long and that’s why chil­dren like it’. Soaps in general have a predominantly female audience, although prime-time soaps such as Dallas are de­liberately aimed at a wider audience. According to Ang, and hardly surprisingly, in Dallas the main interest for men was in business relations and problem and the power and wealth shown, whereas for women were more often interested in the family issues and love affairs.

In the case of Dallas it is clear that the program meant something different for female viewers compared with male viewers. In ‘realist’ soaps, female characters are portrayed as more central than in action drama, as ordinary people coping with everyday problems. Watching the characters in a soap opera deal with everyday problems allows the viewers a sense of normality and helps them to deal with their problems in comparison. Certainly soaps tend to appeal to those who value the personal and domestic world. The audience for such soaps does include men, but some theorists argue that the gender identity of the viewer is ‘inscribed’ in programs, and that typi­cally with soaps the inscribed viewer has a traditional female gender identity. The competencies necessary for reading soap opera are most likely to have been acquired by those persons culturally constructed through discourses of femininity. In­terviews with women office workers in Birmingham reveal that their free-time conversation was often based on their soap opera viewing. Some had begun watching simply because they had discovered how central it seemed to be in lunchtime dis­cussions. It involved anticipating what might happen next, discussing the significance of recent events and relating them to their own experiences. Women typically use soaps as a way of talking indirectly about their own attitudes and be­haviour.

There is some evidence that families use soaps as a way of raising and discussing awkward situations. Most viewers seem to oscillate between involvement and distance in the ways in which they engage with soaps. For example in Home and Away, the issues of rape, teenage sex and pregnancy, sin­gle parenting, epilepsy, drug addiction, abortion, infidelity, and death are all issues in which the characters have dealt with. This allows the audience to discuss these issues with­out talking about themselves.

This allows many controversial issues to be discussed in the family home, to educate the viewers. The viewer is often engaged in the social drama, of knowing a breach to come or already being in a crisis before the characters of the show are. The viewer wants to be part of the community of the soap opera such as Neighbours and Home and Away, to share their knowledge of the reoccurent themes that are hap­pening. If we all lived in Summer Bay or on Ramsey Street, we would be very attractive, doing well at school/university, have a great job, fantastic children, good at sport, happily married, and no problems for very long. This allows the viewer to feel like they could be living in the ideal world where you can do anything, and any problems that you may have will not last too long.


TELEVISION’S EFFECT: Essay Writing Topics


Television is a pervasive and complex part of children’s lives; there are many factors that affect how much and what they view. In the essay “Teaching as an Amusing Activity” (1987), Neil Postman argues television conditions us to tol­erate visually entertaining material measured out in chunks at a time. He explains the ways in which the media is chang­ing the way our children are learning. Neil Postman starts off by explaining how television is being used as an attractive and seductive medium to make children to like school with shows such as Sesame Street. He describes how in a class­room setting allows the student to participate in asking ques­tions and being interactive, while television lures the chil­dren with stimulating, colourful and creative images. Neil Postman than compares the difference in learning behaviours between the classroom setting and sitting in front of the tel­evision, which is the problem that is facing America today. Television does not encourage children to go to school but also affects their cognitive and social development. Neil Post­man continues on with his idea on how children should learn. It is not what they are learning, since television shows can all be educational, it is how you learn it that is important. By watching television, the children are only expected to play a viewer role, while not realizing the familiarity of their role as a student in a classroom. This is leading American culture in the process of converting their culture from a word-centered to an image-centered society. Television is more and more becoming a curriculum as pointed out by Postman. It influ­ences, warps and manipulates the young minds of children into believing that education is entertainment. Postman (1985) states that there are three basic commandments that educa­tional television provide (pgs. 147,148). The first one is “Thou shall have no prerequisites.” It means that the viewer does not have to watch a previous episode or need to watch it from the start to finish. One can just jump in anytime and still un­derstand it. The second commandment is “Thou shall induce no perplexity.” If the show becomes confusing and the viewer doesn’t understand, one can simply just change the channel. The final commandment is “Thou shall avoid exposition like the ten plagues visited upon Egypt.” In this Postman means that it is not the aim of television to try to explain something, which can be done by books, but rather through entertain­ment in ways like story telling with creative images and sound effects. Neil Postman has made it very clear of what televi­sion is doing to the educational system. It is taking away the traditional way of classroom learning, of how to interact with other people and respecting your elders. Television shows such as Sesame Street did not teach one those things, but it did teach children letters, words, numbers, classification and other skills considered to be important for school success. I agree with Postman that television as a teaching device is not all that great, also with its entertainment programs only encour­ages people to love television more, but it also depends on the viewer. Television is like a drug. It is up to the viewer if he/she wants more of it, how much resistance they are will­ing to provide. As stated by the author, more and more educa­tional institutions are switching over to television as a form of teaching. Some things that are found in text books might never be able to be expressed on a screen, but images of solid objects and the sound they might produce can. Young chil­dren like moving pictures such as videos over still pictures found in books as it is more entertaining, which leads back to the same question of television being more for entertainment purposes. But that depends on ones views; some may find it as informative, others boring. Television has its positive and negative influences on children’s intellectual development and behaviour, but television as a medium does not have clear effects on patterns of cognition or achievement. The effects depend on the nature of the programming. Television can be a rich source of stimulating, entertaining learning opportuni­ties, or it can be a mind-numbing waste of time. Interacting with others learned in classrooms and other is something that can never be replaced by images on a screen.