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.