How I Met Your Mother and the #MeToo Movement
To anyone who has spent a decent amount of time with a child it can be quickly understood that children are easily impressionable. It does not take much effort to convince them of something, and this is especially true for the things that they find entertaining. Television, for example, has a huge impact on the development of a child’s worldview.
While this fact is most noticeable in younger children, it is also true for individual’s of all ages. The television shows that we watch do have an effect on our thoughts; it’s just that adults are more likely to already have a well established view of the world and often use this to counter what they see on tv if the two do not match up.
When I was younger, I can remember watching many television shows with my family. Most were children’s shows that were extra intentional about presenting only positive thoughts and images on screen, however, I also would watch the occasional sitcom alongside my brothers and sisters. Looking back now, I can see that many of the messages presented in these shows were not as appropriate for children or for society in general.
One particular show that I can remember watching is How I Met Your Mother. Anyone who has seen this show can probably determine the reason behind its popularity: its just hilarious; however, the humor that it offers does come at a price. If viewers were to step back and take a look at the messages being delivered to suggested throughout the show, they would realize how negative many of them are, especially in light of the rising #MeToo movement.
For reference, the #MeToo movement is a movement against sexual harassment and assault within society, especially in the workplace. It has become a bigger deal since the end of the How I Met Your Mother series and now is calling for more attention to entertainment found in our culture.
The most obvious example of a negative message presented in this tv series is seen in the character, Barney Stinson. Throughout the show, this character has one objective that seems to dominate his thoughts and actions: to “bang” every attractive woman that he sees. To Barney, sex is the most important thing that a woman has to offer and his character will do anything for it.
Barney’s character suggests that the pursuit of women merely for sexual gain is acceptable within society. He provides the idea of a way of life that many men admire and try to mimic themselves, and this is not good for women that are victim to it.
While Barney’s character is a blatant example of what is wrong with “relationships” in society, the show does have good to offer on this front as well. Characters Lily and Marshall represent the the good that can be experienced in a healthy, loving relationship. While at times, their love for each other is almost too much, it provides an example of how a married couple should interact with each other, and ultimately, how two people in a relationship should treat one another.
One character that offers both positive and negative messages in regards to what a relationship should look like is the main character, Ted Mosby. Ted’s goal in life is to find what his best friend, Marshall, has already found in his relationship with Lily, but he does seem to stumble many times along the way. While he often times focuses on the sexual aspect that relationships have to offer, in terms of the way in which he treats women, Ted is mostly a good.
As mentioned before, this television series has been ended for a few years now, and was not created to be in line with the #MeToo movement because it was not in existence yet. Shows produced now are more intentional about presenting ideas that are in agreement with the ideas of this movement or about making a point of what is wrong about the way women are treated within society.
One issue that will likely continue to be present within the media stems from the fact that our culture is so sex-driven. The sexual aspects of relationships will continue to be presented on television because that is what most people want to see. This taints the representation of everyday life in terms of relationships that people have with one another.
Furthermore, as male and female characters continue to focus on sex, there will always be objectification of the opposite gender to some degree. In order to bring about change in this area, producers need to stress that there is more to a relationship than the physical gains associated with it.