Tuesday, February 06, 2007

your daughter is a whore and it's all paris hilton's fault

There are days when I turn on my computer, read headlines at Wonkette and the Washington Post and the New York Times and feel better about the state of humanity. Those days occur pretty rarely, though there was a significant glut of them around October and early November of 2006. Far more typical is the eye-rolling that devolves into sputtering gasping at the sheer stupidity and uselessness of what passes for much of contemporary journalism.

Given the state of the Iraq War, continuing tensions with North Korea, a massive political scandal in the administration of pretty much our only major ally, the continuing mess in what remains of New Orleans, naturally Newsweek would make this pressing issue its U.S. cover story:


"Are we raising a generation of what one L.A. mom calls 'prosti-tots,' young girls who dress like tarts, live for Dolce & Gabbana purses and can neither spell nor define such words as 'adequate?' Or does the rise of the bad girl signal something more profound, a coarsening of the culture and a devaluation of sex, love and lasting commitment?"

First of all, if you don't want your daughter to care about Dolce and Gabbana purses, you might consider not living in Los Angeles. Just a thought.

More pressingly, no, "the rise of the bad girl" does not signal something more profound. The piece goes on to say that teenage pregnancy rates are down by 35 percent since 1990 (according to the Center for Disease Control) and that adolescent drug use continues a decade-long decline. University enrollment is soaring, youth voter turnout in the 2006 election was the highest ever for a non-Presidential year and every major study shows that today's teenagers are choosing to be far more accepting when it comes to issues of race and sexual orientation than their parents ever were. Maybe some people think this is a bad idea. In my experience, these are people who pontificate one thing from their asses and then get caught doing something else with their asses entirely, something perhaps involving a male masseuse.

So there's tons of data discussing how even though Britney's cooter is hanging out for all the world to see, kids are managing to keep it together and not be led into a dangerous world of blowing rails off of hookers' asses while not doing their homework. Naturally, Newsweek mentioned this data in passing around Page 4, bookending it with anecdotal descriptions of seven-year-old girls who love Lindsay Lohan (and who will therefore do everything bad that she does) and Bad Girls of Yore, including society-destroying whores that are hugely relevant to Today's Youth like Gypsy Rose Lee, Ingrid Bergman and-- I absolutely swear I am not making this up-- the corpse of a two-thousand year old German teenager who likely committed adultery.

Yeah, that sounds like something America should be worried about. German mummy sluts.

Here's where the eye-rolling at the stupidity (mummy sluts!) segues into the seething. The headline is "Girls Gone Wild: What Are Celebs Teaching Kids?" But not ONCE in the entire piece do the authors express any concern for the virtue of America's sons. Presumably, being equipped with penises, they are also more equipped to think for themselves and are not as susceptible to the naughty lessons being taught by today's celebrities. It is our daughters who are in danger from these bad examples, our daughters who are unable to separate a song from the person who sings it and the clothes she wears, our daughters whose futures are being toyed with as they take that first step (watching the remake of Freaky Friday) towards the inevitable conclusion (passing out in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont wearing nothing but smeared eyeliner and the dual stenches of vodka and regret).

Many conservative thinkers view our sex-drenched culture as dangerous; liberals are more prone to wave off fears about the chastity of our daughters as reactionary.

Seriously? "The chastity of our daughters?" How is it possible that such antiquated, sexist language was ever allowed into a publication that fancies itself to contain "news" and "facts?" I guess I must be one of those "liberals" because I think it's disrespectful to talk about young women as if they had to be protected from the world, the better to preserve their virtue and retain their dowry.

I will grant you this: there is a crassness to a lot of pop culture that as an adult I love but that if I were a parent, I would find troubling. Oh, and also in Blindingly Obvious Truths, the sun rose this morning and it's cold out.

But where, exactly, are the guys here? Why is it that Paris Hilton is a lightning rod for everything that is wrong with America but walking genital wart Brandon Davis is never accused of leading young men astray? Why is Lindsay Lohan a slut, but no one raised an eyebrow when Matt Leinart knocked up a fellow college student in between tackling La Hilton and Alyssa Milano (oh, and dating Kristin Cavalleri when she was underage. But I'm sure all they did was talk and hold hands and drink malteds)?

It's not so much that male celebrities behaving badly never get called on it. They often do. Kevin Federline is a national joke, so much so that he's turning it into a full-time job (cheap shot alert: the first one he's ever had). But the difference is, his behavior and actions are his alone. There are no journalists wringing their hands wondering if his example will lead to a nation of boys pursuing careers as back-up dancers and babydaddies. No one is tracking the correlation between his fame and any rise in the sale of wifebeaters. This article doesn't have a single quote from a teacher, parent or media-savvy social researcher along the lines of "Diddy just had twins out of wedlock and is hanging out in clubs all night. What kind of lesson does that teach my son?"

It doesn't teach any lesson to your son, Hypothetical Person! Just like it doesn't teach any lesson to your daughter when yet another starlet forgets to wear underwear or has a sex tape "accidentally" leak out. Except for maybe, "wow, I should really never tape myself having sex. That is a bad, bad idea." Luckily, that is a lesson you could also teach them in other ways, ways not involving nightvision.

If you're doing your job as a parent, you're raising someone who doesn't take pop culture as gospel and can tell the difference between entertainment and role models. You're there to answer questions and lead by example. You teach them about consumer culture and provide a foundation that allows them to make educated choices about what they will consume. You give a daughter the same respect you'd give a son, and you'd certainly never let them read scare tactic articles like this that are just designed to fan the flames of the Mommy Wars or the Culture Wars or whatever stupid Wars we're in now.

Because for all the professed worry about young girls, this article is one of the most disrespectful, hysterical, anti-woman pieces of swill I've come across in the "mainstream" media. Really, shame on you, Newsweek. Talk about a lousy way to make a buck.

11 comments:

Jo said...

Clap, clap, clap. Well said.

S said...

BRAVO!

123Valerie said...

Brandon Davis ... is a fire crotch.

Seriously, tho, well done. We're all going to hell in a hand basket, but I just hope I don't have to share it with douche bags and cooter showers.

Wait. The cooter showers can stay. But definitely no genital warts. Nuh uh.

Sparkles Anon! said...

(Happy sigh)

It's good to have you back, EJ.

Barbara said...

EJ -- It was great to meet you tonight. I will now look forward to reading your Blog! (BJ has your phone.)

bettyjoan said...

When I read "cooter showers," I think I read it a little differently than it was intended. But it was pretty damn funny.

I love this post (and YOU!) so much...

Libberash said...

Thank you for ripping Newsweek a new one. I think they alone at this point are perpetuating the culture wars.

Dsquared said...

And, I used to think Newsweek was a "cut above". Thanks for pointing out this absurdity.

Nice meeting you at the game last night. Here's a link to the post I mentioned.

How to convert to WordPress

P.S. Ignore the dsquared link at my name on top. For some reason, your blog only allows me to sign on with a google account. I happen to have one, but don't use it. Other blogger blogs allow signing on with name and url (which can point to a non blogger blog like mine). You may want to see how to change your settings.

Lillian said...

Well done, EJ--you did a great job with this!

I loved the part about separating the person from the music. As a case in point, I think Britney Spears is a dirty skank. Her voice sucks. I'm shocked that her children weren't born with a litany of STDs. I can say with confidence that my stapler is smarter than her. But God, do I ever love dancing around to "Baby, One More Time."

Mark said...

God I love your blog! Such elaquance! You go girl.

EJ Takes Life said...

Thank you all so much for your great comments! Barbara and DSquared, it was great to meet both of you the other night.