Engaging Culture

Who’s Creating The Movies and TV Programs That Will Inspire The Next Generation?

This past week I had two interesting experiences. First – it was the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Clayton Moore – who played “The Lone Ranger” on television. The series originally aired on ABC from 1949-1957, and was the highest-rated television program on the network in the early 1950s and its first true “hit”. As a kid, I watched it as re-runs, and it was one of my favorite shows. As you may remember, The Lone Ranger lived by a code, and as a kid, I knew the code by heart. Last week, during the news reports of the anniversary, his daughter, Dawn Moore said something remarkable:

“Thirteen years after my father’s passing, I continue to receive fan letters — not just from the United States, but from all over the world. The letters come from policemen, firemen and teachers who say they chose a life of protecting others wanting to emulate the example my father set — not just as an actor, but as a man. What’s his legacy? That he inspired and continues to inspire the notion of offering assistance without seeking acknowledgement or fame. To come to the aid of someone in need. Pretty powerful stuff.”

Second story – On Thursday I spoke at the Long Beach Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Long Beach, California. The audience of about 400 was filled with civic leaders, professionals, pastors, business, and ministry leaders, and law enforcement officials. After my talk, a senior police officer and I spent a few minutes together. He said that he grew up in East LA – a place where cops weren’t welcome. Growing up, he never heard anything good said about the police and as a result, distrusted them completely. But he watched TV, and a favorite program was “Adam 12.” He wondered: “Why aren’t the cops around here like that?”  He couldn’t get that thought out of his mind. Then one day he attended a job fair, and met an LA police officer who talked with him, and encouraged him to become a teenage volunteer on the force. That was almost 30 years ago. Today he’s a respected leader in the Long Beach Police Department, and he said his career all started watching “Adam 12” on TV.

Those two stories made me think – with a current television schedule filled with vampires, corrupt cops, hypocritical politicians, fathers who act like buffoons, soft-core porn, growing levels of violence, and more – who’s producing programs that will do for this generation of kids the same thing that The Lone Ranger and Adam 12 did for the last?  Sure those old shows may be corny by our standards today, but that doesn’t mean the same vision, ideals, and principles couldn’t be celebrated with contemporary storytelling.

Television and movies are more powerful that we can imagine. Creators, writers, and producers – in our efforts to be cutting edge, show reality, make a political statement, or push the boundaries, let’s not forget the impact we could have simply by creating an example.

There’s a lot of kids out there watching and waiting….

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  1. Wow, an hour ago I was watching a show where young smart people save LAX. While I was watching the show I was thinking why can’t there be a show where two or three generations of smart people learn to team-up and save something. Highlighting respect for each generation and using the strengths of each generation.

    I experienced that briefly for real the last few years I worked with young aerospace engineers. We had a few belly laughs working together and I learned a lot from them but on the flip side they came to me for help quite regularly.

    I’m with you Phil. I wrote in my core paper last spring I wanted to write screenplays that made respect and learning to work with people with different ideas or approaches to solve problems fashionable again. Showing why that path works in the long run and all other narcissistic paths eventually fail. NCIS is doing that now but more can be done I’m sure.

    May God pull together a team of writers that could make this happen. Amen!

  2. Phil, My neighbor was one of the producers of Adam 12! We talk about it a good bit, he’s still got so much chrisma. There are discussions about writing a book on the show. Matthew

  3. Can tell I’m older than you Phil. I watched it in its original showing. 🙂 i still enjoy watching LR when I see it. There isn’t a whole lot I turn the TV on for any more. That is not a head-in-the-sand mentality. It is “take time to read because there isn’t much worth watching.” But I do agree with you about needing quality programming.

  4. I actually think the Marvel superhero pictures will be a huge influence on this generation’s children (my children are big fans, as am I). I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing at all.

  5. The issue isn’t “Who is creating” the TV shows, it’s “Who is putting them on the air?”

    And I can’t think of any networks that are trying to do so.

    Which is why we need people who want these kinds of shows on the air to become network executives, and those who can’t become network executives to financially support programs (and prayer organizations) that are aiming to equip the next generation of network executives.

  6. we we do 🙂
    Thank you for your encouragement in the past brother 🙂
    Now we are discussing with local MTV, they are interested airing our christian values based show 😀

  7. In the new TV show Gotham (arguably the best new show of the bunch), Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is a man who appears to be one of the few on the force who is not corrupt.

    He comforts the young Bruce Wayne when he tells him after his parents have been gunned down: “I promise you, however dark and scary the world might be right now, there will be light. There will be light, Bruce.”

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