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Change the Channel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


Commercials. We all hate them, some more than others. Many of us try to avoid them as much as possible. But for those who watch them, I have a reason why commercials may be a lot worse for us than we think (besides the fact that they make us wait five minutes for our favorite show to come back on).

We may not even realize it, but much of what we see on TV affects how we think and act. Television shows and commercials often put images in our heads that we instantly believe. For example, when we see someone who has a mental disability, such as Down ­syndrome, what do we think? Idiot? Charity case? We’ve all seen actors on TV call others “retards” if they are acting foolish. We’ve seen ads for charities to help research mental handicaps. Watching this, someone may conclude that these people are helpless charity cases. This is wrong – dead wrong.

Two people who are very important to me have mental disabilities. My 10-year-old brother was born with autism. People with autism don’t look different, but they exhibit strange behaviors. It also affects their ability to communicate with others. He has more trouble with some things than other people do, but he manages to work through these challenges and succeed. He is now in fifth grade, near the top of his class, and serves as student council president. He is one of the funniest, most lovable kids you will ever meet, and most people can’t tell he has autism. I often forget myself.

In addition, my uncle, who is 35, was born with Down syndrome. This condition affects people both physically and mentally. Common physical characteristics are upward slanting eyes, small ears, and a large tongue. Down syndrome also affects a person’s ability to learn. Although it may be at a slower rate, they do learn, contrary to some beliefs.

Uncle John has challenges, but, like my brother, he manages to work through them and succeed. He lives independently with a ­roommate who also has Down ­syndrome, and he has a job. John is loved by almost everyone he meets. He is also rolling-on-the-floor-not-being-able-to-breathe funny, especially when he tells stories from his childhood. For ­example, when John was young he convinced his sister (my aunt) to put him in the dryer. He was hilarious then and continues to tickle everyone’s funny bone. I cannot be near him for more than 30 seconds without bursting into laughter. He can easily make anyone’s day a bit ­better. As I have hopefully shown with these ­examples, those with mental disabilities are more than our televisions make them out to be.

“Try Proactiv and you too can be beautiful!” Yet another miracle beauty product advertised on your TV, this one claims it can clear up acne in just days. As realistic as some of these ads seem, they are very unreliable. Do we ever see a person on one of those commercials who is ugly after they try the product, or someone for whom the product didn’t work? Never, right? These ads try to put ideas in our heads that we will be beautiful if we buy the product, and many viewers buy products because they believe these ­commercials.

Nothing good can come from believing what ­commercials tell us – except disappointment and bad judgments. When your favorite TV show cuts to a commercial break, change the channel. Or try ­ignoring the commercials or finding something to do during the break. Then maybe we will all make fewer bad judgments about people and products.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 10 comments. Post your own!

romancejunky1998 said...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 6:46 am:

I agree totally with this artical and one of my pet hates are those 'maybe shes born with it maybe its maybeline' or the 'your worth it' its affect us as an age group that make up makes us perfect.

I go to a really strict school in someways and I know someone who got expelled because she wouldn't give up on make up.

Everyday we are bombarded with advertisemet. So, I agree when a ad comes up why not go for a little walk around the room or go look in the kitchen anything but absor... (more »)

 
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EMW111 said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:48 am:
 I do think that this article "Change the Channel" is well written. I believe that watching commercials gives people ideas. They persuade the person watching the commercial to believe that a person's body or some commercials even make a person think that buying this item will be cheaper if they were to bought it on t.v. If i had the power, I would take commercials away.
 
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poetry_addict said...
Jun. 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm:
I agree completely. I myslef have autism. YM best friend has downs syndrome. I will pray for your brother in this world as its really hard with autism to make it. BUt I know he will with you to help him! Kepp writing D:
 
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Sallysunshine said...
Feb. 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm:
everything was wonderful, and i most likely would agree with you
 
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AmnyR said...
Aug. 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm:
you write well, but i must make one suggestion. the majority of the story was about people you know with disabilities, but the last two paragraphs just seemed kind of stuck in there, they really didnt seem to fit... just my opinion :) keep on writting though, everything else about it was wonderful!!!
 
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Ambrosia H. said...
Aug. 14, 2009 at 7:03 am:
Although i was slightly dissapointed to see the narrow amount of issues you mentioned, i was pleasantly surprised to find you had a lot to say on the two matters you spoke of. Continue writing, and I suggest you also add things to talk about in each article, to point out other issues and make a better case. :) Two thunmbs up!
 
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nicoleecole said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 11:55 pm:
VERY NICE! Truly spoken well.
 
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Kathryn This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 26, 2009 at 11:21 pm:
Very good. Interesting beginning and such! Spoken passionately, and I like it. :D
 
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DreamingWriter said...
Apr. 26, 2009 at 5:35 am:
I love how you used examples of how the media affects our judgments and how we stop that. I am a autistic girl and I suffer from the cruel stereotypes of the television. Great writing!
 
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upup said...
Apr. 2, 2009 at 5:08 pm:
Very nicely written and -wow- you are so much more mature than many "grownups"I know.With young people like you and your family, I am not afraid for the future of this country.
Give my sweet regards to your uncle!
 
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