A new survey of 4-year-olds found that watching the popular Nickelodeon cartoon "Spongebob Squarepants" made the kids more likely to want what they want now. Because 4-year-olds are, as a demographic, normally sedate, rational and patient, this came as a shock to researchers. No, what I meant to say was: "Duh."
As a longtime fan, I would expect nothing less. Part of "Spongebob's" charm is its fast-moving plot and quirky characters. The kids who watched "Spongebob" were still on a sort of post-Bikini-Bottom high, I guess, particularly compared to the two other groups in the test: kids watching a PBS cartoon, which moved at the pace of Spongebob's beloved pet snail, Gary, and a third group told to draw and color.
After watching the shows or coloring, treats were placed in front of the kids and the ones who watched PBS or spent the time drawing appeared to be more patient. In contrast, the "Spongebob" viewers grabbed as many marshmallows as they could and demanded more.
I don't know anyone that would be surprised by these results, but I think it would be much more interesting to study, say, older adults who watch too much "Law & Order."
When I visit my Aunt Verlie, she spends the first 30 minutes of the visit accusing me of something and the second half hour proving why she's right.
I know it's because she's all jacked up on "Law & Order" reruns. How can I be so sure, you ask?
That's easy. Just the other day, I was barely in the door when she reminded me, "You know, Celia, in the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups: the police who investigate the crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders."
"Okaaaaaaaay," I said.
Over the course of our visit, she used the word "allocute" at least three times. I have no idea what it means but she does. Her dialogue smacks of the terse Q-and-A style of her beloved "Law & Order" characters. She prefers classic "Law & Order," but reruns of "SVU" are acceptable, although she thinks it's a shame that Jayne Mansfield's daughter has to deal with those awful perverts every week.
If you ask for more juice, she'll put it on the dining table and say simply: "Asked and answered." Sometimes, if she's a little bored by whatever fascinating story that I'm telling over dinner, she'll just wave her hand dismissively and say, "goes to relevance."
Bottom line: We're all affected by what we watch on TV. Old, young, it doesn't matter. Dun-DUN.
Reach Celia Rivenbark at www.celiarivenbark.com.