(Note: the following post is probably going to generate some weird ads showing up in my Google frames on the sidebar, based on some of my words– bear with me as I try to block the bad ones…)
Boy, does the entertainment world make it increasingly hard to keep from being a helicopter parent these days. On the one hand, I do not want to be like some parents I know, who routinely listen to their teens’ Ipods and punish them if they hear something objectionable, or get all bent out of shape if their teen watches a movie that includes cussing. Like I always say, if you’ve taught your children well, micro-managing them undermines your show of confidence in their ability to take that information, make good decisions and see past the trash. Yet on the other hand, I do think parents need to be aware of what’s going on out there, even try to stay one step ahead, so that they can be more informed when they do talk to their kids and yes, be a censor when pop media takes things too far.
It may “take a village” to raise kids, but I believe there are an increasing number of people in this village, moreso than ever before, who don’t have a child’s best interests at heart. It’s like they get some kind of sick pleasure in making money off of, and hurting the lives of, our youngest citizens. Dan Akroyd’s “Bag of Glass” skit from the early days of Saturday Night Live isn’t so far-fetched anymore…
Is it really healthy for kids to play certain video games, over and over, where they kill people, and make decisions on who to kill, and, according to game reviewers, really feel shaken up when it’s all over? And every year, the games get more and more violent…The makers of energy drinks say they’re not marketing to kids, yet their increasingly colorful graphics and crazy names do just that, and according to the Nutrition Business Journal, young teens are a significant part of the drink’s purchasers, and caffeine intoxication is on the rise… Modern parents, including myself, are used to fending off the sexual messages that are everywhere in pop culture, but give me a break—now today’s kids are being bombarded with encouragement for sexual threesomes in kid-targeted shows like Gossip Girl, and in Britney Spears’ song “Three”—did the people who were worried way back when about Elvis and his hips really think things would “progress” to this? And even if your kid watches and listens to everything and turns out just fine— does every child? We all know that many kids spend more time with media than with their parents, so for them, media is where they get most of their advice about life.
This point was made clearer to me the other day when I received the following video in an e-newsletter from Common Sense Media.
Common Sense (http://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/our-mission) is an online site I head to when I want to learn about the content of movies, etc. if I’m ever not sure about whether something is kid-appropriate. (There are many online sites that make this task easy and I like several—this one is very “common sense” and straightforward, involves a ton of reader feedback, and doesn’t have a conservative or liberal slant to it.)
If you don’t have time to watch the video, it’s a Common Sense posting of a You Tube video they found, of young kids singing and dancing to a Lady GaGa song called “Love Game”, where she tells everyone she “wants sex bad” and wants to take a ride on someone’s “Disco Stick” (she was very frank in Rolling Stone magazine about explaining that a “disco stick” was in fact a male body part and how she uses a giant light-up sex toy onstage when singing the song…). In the YouTube video, the images of sweet young kids licking their lips and singing the suggestive lyrics were really disturbing…
Did it make me want to instantly yank all Lady GaGa songs off my kids’ Ipods? No. Hopefully after I let them know more about her, they’ll do it themselves. Most of what they usually choose to download is fine, anyway—I actually think they are developing a pretty good value system when it comes to detecting true trash. Will I start turning the dial whenever GaGa or numerous other skanks sing on my car radio? Absolutely. The video also reminded me that we all vote with our time and our dollars when it comes to the marketplace, and Andy and I need to make an effort not to vote for sleaze-hawkers like GaGa anymore—ever so often, when our girls have used up any ITunes gift cards they’ve received, they each give Andy a list of songs they’d like on their Ipods and if he’s feeling generous, he’ll take the time (and money) to download them, not paying much attention to their choices. We’re going to be paying closer attention to those lists from now on. I don’t want any more of our time or money going toward people who blatantly seek to reel in children and then bring them down.
Some may argue that those entertainers are not Barney, that they never asked for kids in their audience. Oh, really? Is that why Madonna wrote children’s books? Is that why Britney worked with Play Along Toys to develop the Britney Spears Fashion Doll? And is that why Lady GaGa dresses like something out of Willy Wonka and went public a few months ago in talking about her lust for the Jonas Brothers?
Hmmmm, and if my memory serves me correctly, she requested a threesome with them…