Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More on the Sexualization of Children and Miley Cyrus

There's one other element of the Miley Cyrus/Hanna Montana picture "scandal" that perhaps colors my commentary about the impact on society, "think of the children"-type stuff.

No matter how much kids idolize her, that picture of her back isn't going to nudge anyone into doing something very naughty.

But even if your kid has enough common sense to keep her clothes on, it's guaranteed that one or more of her peers don't. At least in a school setting where she might have hundreds of peers that you don't know at all.

That's obviously not a concern of mine. Someone recently asked me the old warhorse about "socialization".
"Aren't your kids going to miss out on social school things?"
And I asked, "Well, what did you learn at school, socially speaking?"
"Cheating, vandalism, sex, drinking... I see your point."
As they say at the Institutes, the only thing that a five-year-old can teach another five-year-old is how to be a five-year-old--and he already knows that. You can imagine (though you probably don't have to) what 10- and 15-year-olds have to teach each other.

The peculiar zoo/prison-type environment of the current school systems are particularly bad. Kids go from a tightly controlled situation (the classroom) where normal kid behavior is absolutely prohibited to the free-for-all Lord-of-the-Flies of the playground where bullies reign and teachers have a "let them sort it out for themselves" attitude.

I've only found a few schools where ethics mattered. Mostly it's "zero tolerance" and "zero brainpower". So the kids establish a system much like prison. (I have to say about that last link that I did not experience what Paul Graham did, but that's a topic for another time.) Popularity and survival are closely linked--something that the adults who put their children into this situation routinely deride. (Let the unfairness of that sink in for a moment: Parents put their kids into school to "socialize" them--education being a lost cause--and then mock them for thinking their social status is important.)

And for some, the peer pressure is obviously overwhelming. They're the ones who are influenced by trashy pop queens, and they're the ones who bring pressure to bear on your children.

Of course, the other side of the coin is--well, let's say you were going to send your child to a Catholic seminary. Can you imagine the reaction? Why, everyone knows what pedophiles priests are! Don't you watch the news?

Well, I'm not suggesting there's bias or anything, but the rates of pedophile teachers is probably higher than it is for priests, but we only hear the occasional sensational story, rather than the real numbers. At least priests don't have a freakin' union and require tax-dollar bribes.

What I'm gettin' at is this: If you send your kid to a school, you're subjecting him to far greater pressures than a Miley Cyrus picture. Hannah Montana is at the end of a long list of things undermining whatever sense of ethics or morality you're trying to inculcate. (Actually, I don't think you have to do much with kids, who have an innate sense of justice and more dignity than most adults, but they can also be undermined with the 35 hours a week the school gets.) Your job has to be build up what the schools work so hard to tear down. For some kids, this will be easy as they tend to reject authority anyway. Others will need approval so badly it'll be nigh impossible.

Having said that, society can be judged on its kindness to outliers. It would be great if our society didn't encourage situations that are dangerous for kids who don't have the best parental supervision or who just are easily influenced. But more on that when I review the Traci Lords bio.


  1. Now this is going to sound like a contradiction from my previous rants about Miley but I think it is important for your kids to experience a lot of stuff that goes on in life so it doesn’t hold any allure to them above what it’s worth. I think you have to give them a class of wine and teach them about alcohol and why you shouldn’t abuse it. Take the boy to the track and teach him about gambling which is a really big problem these days with internet poker sites and poker after dark all over the TV. Most of all you can teach them the difference between real life and the stuff they see in the movies. But you can’t be afraid for them to get some bumps and bruises along the way. You just want them to have a soft landing.

    I had a big argument with one of my best friends when he moved to the burbs because he didn’t want his kids to grow up in Brooklyn. I told him that we did ok and his son would be fine because he had his father and mother looking after him and all the neighbors who knew his family to keep an eye on him as well. Some of these kids that live in the burbs have nothing to do and are so bored that they have to get in trouble. I said get the kid a freakin’ job like we had when we were twelve and he won’t have time to screw up. But they moved to Jersey and it didn’t work out so well. He ended up getting a divorce because he was working so hard to pay for and he only sees his son on alternate weekends. He’s living in an apartment in his mother’s house on Court St back in the old neighborhood. But what the hell do I know.

    Anyway that’s why when me granddaughter comes up from Florida in June; I’m putting her to work in the store. !0 is old enough to learn the value of a work ethic. We will make it fun and having a little girl work with clothes is easy. But the principal is the same. Keep em busy and informed but let them live. Just don’t let em follow those skanky starlets. If that makes any sense.

  2. Well, yeah, that's the trick, isn't it? I mean, you can go Amish and cut them off from everything--though if I'm not mistaken, even the Amish send their kids out into the secular world when they're 18 so they can see what it's like. Kind of a clever trick, in a way. The world is so chaotic and degraded in so many ways, Amish life must seem marvelous in comparison. That is, it must seem like an easy decision to give up the chaos for an ordered life that doubtless feels closer to God.

    But most of us aren't gonna go that route.

    So, where's the line? For my kids, it probably wouldn't be those pix. As I've said elsewhere, the kids tend to be nudists. They grow out of it, but slowly. But it doesn't really register beyond "Why is that person not wearing clothes?" or something of that nature.

    My kids have zero interest in drinking or drugs. I think they might've considered smoking but the propaganda is pretty fierce these days, so no matter how cool I tell them they'll look if they smoke, they won't buy it.

    They'll take medicine if they absolutely need it, that's about it. Now, this is my attitude, but not one I've ever expressed to them nor would I condone it. I'm too reluctant to take even medicine. The fact that my kids, as babies even, seem to have the same attitude makes me wonder if it's genetic.

    What your friend missed was that while it doesn't necessarily "take a village", a village is a damn good thing to have around. Since we're both nuclear family children, with little in the way of siblings or cousins, we're trying to create that for our children.

    But to have an extended family/neighborhood that you can count on? That's awesome. That's something that doesn't happen out here much on the left coast, and I know it's eroded back east as the old neighborhoods grow less Italian, less Jewish, etc.

    Hell, I live in the same area I have for 95% of my life--just about everyone else I know moved away.

    The job thing--you're dead on about that. And I intend to employ The Boy in the new business. He doesn't want me to pay him, but I'll compromise by not paying him much. Heh. The Flower's going to be in my instructional videos, so she'll be working, too.

    I mentioned that in my "statement" here. On being credentialed.

    Time for a movie review, I think....

  3. So, Trooper, given all this, you were having a problem with my points--why, exactly? Because from my point of view, there's barely a flash of light between our perspectives on human nature, life, fundamental realities, and the realities of living in current circumstances. No doubt I'm missing something, and so I'm asking you what it is.

  4. I sometimes think that the worst arguments on the 'net occur primarily between people who agree but are phrasing things differently.


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