“With great power comes great responsibility.”
So said Spider-Man’s kindly and wise Uncle Ben (as played by the legendary Cliff Robertson) to the young web-slinger (Tobey McGuire) in the first major live-action Spidey feature film (2002).
The same could be said for the writer’s touch on television.
Arguably the most influential creation of the last century (or possibly ever), television – at least from my POV – has always been an untapped resource for education – beyond PBS.
There is so much potential for TV to do good…to be a “do-gooder” itself…just like Spidey, or Wonder Woman, or any particular hero, super or otherwise, that has found its own home, in one form or another, on the small screen.
It shouldn’t be the medium’s direct responsibility to create positive influence for the home viewer or society in general. But if in the process of creating and displaying multi-layered stories with textured characters, with a television series, movie or special, would it be such a bad thing if the audience not only cheered in appreciation for being entertained, but walked away with a potentially wiser and kinder perspective and disposition?
Either way, the answer rests with good writing.
If a writer creates an “evil” character (an antagonist), the reason for its “evil being-ness” must be properly fleshed out and explained to be fully-appreciated and understood by the audience.
If a writer defines a character as evil by merely having that character utilize vulgar language, without any explanation, then a great disservice is presented to the watcher.
Any character, even the “good” ones (the protagonists) should be shaped and formed fully enough to use a cuss word once in a while, as any off-screen human being should be allowed to do so in real life.
If TV shows and films are a slice a life, and I believe that they are; then for them to be fully-embraced, otherwise ultimately known as a “a success,” the writer must realize that with his or her “great power comes great responsibility.”