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.

(I Can’t Get No) Stimulation

Just sittin’ here waitin’ to be stimulated.

All the newsies are talkin’ ‘bout how it’s s’posed to come early.

I figger with my 42 children, glass eye and peg leg, I should be stimulated to the tune of one million dollars.

Ever’body wants my stimulation, too. They keep on sendin’ me e-mails ’bout how I should spread it ’round. Big ol’ TVs and Canadian pharmaceuticals and what-not.

I figger it’ll feel so good, I’ll just roll around on it for a while.

To the guy looking for “maelstrom” statistics, and other searchers…..

Search of the day:

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PICKED UP IN A MAELSTROM IN THE LAST 5 YEARS?

In caps, too. Dude, “maelstrom” isn’t really a technical term. It’s like how asking how many people have been injured in a kerfuffle.

Also, to the guy looking for the “profit reference” in Monty Python, there is no such reference. The ‘net meme is:

1. Do something.
2. Do something else
3. ???? here.

Coincidence?

As you probably know, Annie Leibovitz’s pix of Miley Cyrus’ have created a bit of a stir.

I think it’s more bimbo fatigue than anything. Hilton, Spears, Lohan and, uh, Spears have worn us out. The Miley pix aren’t, as she says, “skanky”.

But I wasn’t aware that Disney had hired Leibovitz, and she has been recreating famous Disney movie moments for the past couple of years, including one released just a few days ago.

Huh.

Ugly Eyes

At the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential (a school/clinic for handling brain-injuries) they have a phrase: “ugly eyes”. Many of their kids are savants (what used to be called “idiot savants”) but because they have other problems, some people refuse to see their brilliance. They see only the injury and impose their ideas about what that means over the person. The opposite of rose-colored glasses, if you like.

It should be evident that this phrase could apply to racists. They don’t see the person, or even if they do, what they see is occluded by what they believe. What should probably be just as obvious is that it applies to those who adopt a “politically correct” mindset.

There’s a minor kerfuffle in the feminist blogosphere that Althouse has commented on. The money quote is “It’s not that I didn’t see it. It’s that I didn’t see it.” This could be rephrased as, “I only saw what was there, not the pre-formed political paradigm that I’m required to filter not only my communication but my actual perception with.”

I was working with a friend of mine whose skin melanin content is higher than the local average, and he had hired his buddy’s girlfriend to work with us. She would say things about my friend (to his face) about “being one of the good ones” and other phrases which are commonly associated today with racists (or at least racist caricatures).

We laughed, because these are the kinds of things we would say to each other in ironic jesting, but something about the way she said them struck us both as odd. Ultimately it came out that she was dead serious. (The extra added bonus weirdness that she was, herself, a person of color–she just didn’t see herself that way.)

My friend is the sort of person who doesn’t have ugly eyes. Now, one is always served better by seeing what is actually there, as this woman did cause trouble for him. But he’s still light years better off than those who see racism everywhere.

It’s worth observing at this point that we are all beneficiaries of those who suffered and laid down their lives so that we could, today, have the luxury of seeing each other as individuals and not just representatives of some group. But it seems to me that those who do frame everything in the context of identity groups are spitting in these brave peoples’ faces. They’re saying what was fought for can never truly be achieved.

And that’s ugly.

Food Doom

A friend of mine (who taught at the Creative Wealth seminar The Boy and I went to) sends along this video trailer. (I’ve been meaning to review the seminar but have been letting it digest for a while.)

This is aimed squarely between the eyes for me as I am a Western-medicine-deriding pill-hatin’ pharmaceutical-mistrustin’ organic-lovin’ GMO-sketpicizin’ snake-oil takin’ left coast fruitbat. My peeps deride “Whole Foods” as “too mainstream”.

And yet. I’m not really impressed by this trailer. I guess because I’ve seen it before so many times. The only thing lacking–and it may well be in the movie–is that Diet For A Small Planet-we’re-doomed-because-three-companies-own-all-the-food motif.

I’m afraid I tend to class that stuff alongside of The Population Bomb and Future Shock.

And when people start dissin’ pesticides–which I think are overused–I can’t help but also think of the million children who die of malaria every year because of Rachel Carson persuaded enough people that DDT was worse than death.

And I get a little deja vu feeling when people start talking about genetically modified stuff. Once again, people are starving in Africa because persuasive people have convinced leaders there that dying is better than eating GMOs.

A cynic might say that environmentalist victories seem to equate to black people dying.

So I have this interesting dichotomy: Western medicine has personally saved people I care about, but it has also consigned people I care about to death. The elimination of whole foods (the concept, not the store) has definitely reduced the health of many people and caused many troubles, but ultimately modern food technologies have essentially saved the world.

It actually doesn’t bug me much: I try to use what’s appropriate for the situation. My kids don’t get a lot of refined sugar, but I don’t sweat the occasional cookie or birthday cake. I take them to the doctor when I think that will help, and take them to the witch doctor when I think that will help.

So perhaps this really is a modest post, after all.

A Trivial Mind

I get e-mails from Tiger Direct, as I imagine many of you do.

This week’s ad features an LG 42" 1080p high-definition flat screen TV for only $1199 with free shipping!

Why do I care? I don’t, really. I was just noticing that the image they used to showcase the TV’s screen was the French comedy The Valet (La Doublure). It gets a mere 6.6 on IMDB, but I liked it: It was light and cute, and not sleazy (which is a real problem for French romantic comedies/sex farces).

Immediately to the left of that is a laptop (the HP 530) for sale which has another movie (or maybe TV show) on it–but I don’t recognize it. Do you? It’s the guy and the blond kissing while another blond watches in horror.

WC Martell reviews Street Kings

Check out Bill’s “Sex in a Submarine” blog for a review of Street Kings.

I think of Bill as an old friend, even though our ships barely passe in the night over 10 years ago on Compuserve, in the short-lived B-movie forum. (Now he hangs out at Retromedia, though, so check him out there, too.)

Anyway, Bill is a professional screen writer, and gives lots of good advice on his blog. As part of the topic of pacing, he gives a sort-of insider’s review of the new movie Street Kings. Shorter Bill might be: “Too much plot getting in the way of the story” (as Joe Bob Briggs would say).

It’s true: Too much “excitement” in a movie can make it boring. I had that problem with Planet Terror.