All Sex, All the Time

Well hello there. It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything – the last year or so has been pretty crazy, and I haven’t had a lot of time to write. But a few days ago, I read an article that I really enjoyed and on which I wanted to comment.

In the January 2014 issue of Glamour magazine, actress Rashida Jones wrote an article entitled “The Pornification of Everything,” in which she addresses the growing cultural acceptability of pornographic (or borderline pornographic) behavior by celebrities (and as a consequence, by regular people as well). Here’s a link to the article online: http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/12/rashida-jones-major-dont-the-pornification-of-everything It’s not a long read, and if you have a moment, I highly recommend it.

If you don’t want to read it, here’s the basic gist: Ms. Jones came to the realization that over the past couple of years, pop stars have made it their job to present themselves in as sexual a way as possible. She cites as examples Miley Cyrus twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs, Rhianna grinding on a pole in one of her videos, Nicki Minaj wearing pasties as a Halloween costume, and the cover art for one of Lady Gaga’s songs. She points out that this is largely boring – that we basically become desensitized to these oversexualized images. She also states that it feels inauthentic, and is not a true expression of most women’s sexuality but is instead an effort to sell sex and cater to a male idea of what is sexy. The only issue I have with her article is that she does not give a lot of attention to what I believe to be her most salient point – that these woman are role models, whether they want to be or not. Little girls are watching, and what they are seeing is appalling. It is this particular point that I want to expand upon.

These pop stars, particularly ones like Miley Cyrus who got their start on TV shows aimed at children, have large numbers of teenage girls and pre-teen girls as part of their fanbase. Many of these ladies claim to not want to be role models, but regardless of that, millions of these girls look up to them for their fame, their physical beauty, and their talent. And many of those girls do not have a great deal of guidance at home that will say, “That’s inappropriate, turn it off,” when Miley is shaking it on some guy. When a 12-year-old girl sees Rihanna pole-dancing and there’s no one around to talk to her about it in a reasoned way, she internalizes that behavior and thinks to herself (consciously or unconsciously), “Rihanna does it, she’s beautiful and successful and boys like her. I should do that too.” In her mind, there is no distinction between the fact that she is 12 and Rihanna is in her mid-20s. Young girls see images like that and it exposes them to a range of actions and feelings that they are not emotionally or mentally prepared to deal with. Often they deal with them anyway, by emulating what their idols do. This is especially dangerous in today’s social-media-filled world, where photos and videos live forever in the bowels of the internet.

Over the past 5 to 8 years, with the rise of Smartphones, Instagram, and texting/sexting, the number of incidents of underage girls taking and sending inappropriate pictures of themselves and each other has skyrocketed, resulting in a vast increase in child pornography. Basically, we as a culture are very gradually accepting the sexualization of young girls. And often, the girls themselves are the source of this material. They take photos of themselves in compromising positions and send them to friends, boys, or strangers, because Nicki Minaj got her picture taken in nothing but pasties, so why not? We owe it to our daughters, little sisters, and nieces to reject this hypersexualiztion of our culture. In her article, Rashida Jones quotes one of her own Tweets: “Sure, be SEXY, but leave something to the imagination.” I agree. What happened to Old Hollywood sexiness? Sophia Loren could melt a man with one glance, no pasties or pole-dancing required. I’m not saying that we should walk around in burkas, but there is something to be said for a little mystery.

Not everyone shares the same opinion, however. In the article, Ms. Jones mentions that she Tweeted several times about this issue and was accused of “slut-shaming,” misogyny, and being judgmental. She responded to this by saying that “there is a difference between ‘shaming’ and ‘holding someone accountable.'” I agree. These pop stars and actresses have to realize that their actions have consequences beyond themselves. I don’t know a great deal about Jennifer Lawrence (who plays Katniss in the Hunger Games movies), but I saw a quote from her that I absolutely love. In an interview she said, “I’m never going to starve myself for a part. I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner.'” She gets it. She understands the impact that she has on young girls as a role model and how her behavior affects them. She takes responsibility for that, even though she didn’t ASK to be looked up to as someone to emulate.

I know that our culture is largely in decline. Prior to the fall of Rome, sexual immorality (as well as general immorality) was rampant. It is my hope, however, that for the sake of our young girls, America can get itself together. Maybe she can stop snorting lines off the coffee table, put a shirt on, and make sure she’s wearing panties before she goes out for the night.

Things I’m Tired of Hearing About

Americans are very dedicated people. When they love something, they REALLY love it (at least for awhile). This includes trends, TV shows, singers, and other bits and pieces of popular culture. America’s pop culture is very infectious. It spreads rapidly all over the globe, especially with the advent of the internet and websites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. While this is awesome in many ways, it also has one major downside: Everything risks overexposure, from pop stars to fashion trends. There comes a time when you’re just so sick of hearing about something that you just want to punch the next person that mentions it to you. I have reached that critical mass point with a number of pop culture icons, and I’m going to make a list to share with you. Feel free to comment and add all the crap you’re sick of hearing about too. Here goes:

My Official List of Crap People Need to Shut Up About:

1. Twilight. Ok, come on. This nonsense has been going on for upwards of 3 years now. I have not read any of the books or seen any of the movies (I refuse on both counts), but they CANNOT live up to the hype – there’s just no way. I’m so tired of hearing about all things related to this horrible phenomenon – the clothes, the school supplies, the “team Edward v. team Jacob” thing, etc. And since when do vampires sparkle? Did Dracula sparkle? No. But Dracula was a terrifying, blood-sucking monster, not a sparkly little fairy man. Also, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are not that attractive. Cosmo (the magazine) seems to uphold “RPatz” (gag) as the ideal of a hot guy, and I could NOT disagree more. Please note also that all information related to knowledge of the characters, their relationships, the plot, etc all come solely from indirect exposure to the Twilight series. If I know what kind of car the main character drives (a silver Volvo) and I haven’t even read the stupid books, it’s overexposed. Someone cover that mess up – no one wants to see that.

2. Lady Gaga. “Lady Gaga isn’t like OTHER pop stars. She’s truly an ARTIST -a VSIONARY. She has real passion and music is her LIFE.” Bullshit. Lady Gaga is just like any other pop star. Her image is carefully crafted to receive as much attention as possible. Wearing an outfit made entirely out of Kermit the Frog heads or slabs of meat and going pantsless 99% of the time is all part of that attention-seeking image. And musically – well, I just don’t see the intense artistry. Maybe it’s because I’m not an artist. Yeah, “Just Dance” and “Pokerface” were catchy, but I don’t really think they were high art like everyone else does. I say give it 10 years and she’ll be shaving her head and going to rehab just like the rest of the pop tart club.

3. Silly Bandz. I think this is something that you have to be under the age of 15 to understand. Silly Bandz are silicone rubber bands that come in all different colors and shapes. Instead of just being round in their natural shape like a regular rubber band, these are shaped like animals, characters, letters, etc. When you put them on your wrist, they just look like squiggly rubber bands. Kids buy these up by the dozen (literally – they come in packages of 12 and 24). Real Silly Bandz, I have learned, are $6 per pack. Large Retail Store has started selling Silly Bandz knock-offs in the jewelry department for $2-$4, and so I see these every day and field questions like “Do you have any Justin Bieber Silly Bandz?” I just don’t understand the draw of these. They aren’t really toys, and I don’t see much “play” potential in them. It seems like the popular kids in each school district arbitrarily decided that they were cool, and so now everyone has to have them. It’s bizarre. I suppose all grade school trends are kind of like that though.

4. Miley Cyrus/Justin Bieber/Jonas Brothers. I group this trifecta of evil together because they are essentially the same thing: Young kids making bad music geared towards pre-teens. Once again, much of my hatred here is spurred on by my daily contact with licensed products featuring these characters at Large Retail Store. Fortunately the Jonas Brothers seem to be fading, and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus seems to be headed that way too (albiet much slower than I would like). Now Justin Bieber seems to be the Thing. Hopefully this too will be short-lived.

5. True Blood. I mean, why don’t you just watch porn? You could save money on the HBO subscription.

6. Jersey Shore. Ok, so I’m confused. The kids on “Jersey Shore” like to party, are orange, of Italian ancestry (supposedly), in good shape, and collectively dumber than a brick wall. How did they get a TV show? Oh… wait… MTV. Nevermind. I temporarily forgot where I live and what year it is.

7. TV shows about teen pregnancy. I loved the movie “Juno.” I thought it was really cute and heartfelt and all those adjectives that people use to describe movies like “Juno.” However, I blame its success for the surge in TV shows that center around teen pregnancy, like “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “16 and Pregnant.” I don’t know if people realize this, but being in high school (or, God forbid, middle school) and getting knocked up is not a good thing. Shows like this give kids the idea that it’s alright if they get pregnant because they can end up on a reality show, get famous, make lots of money, and maybe get a book deal or singing contract out of it. Here’s what REALLY happens: You get pregnant and your boyfriend peaces out because he wants nothing to do with that amount of responsibility (he is immature, like you). You miss lots of time from school for doctor’s appointments, giving birth, and recovering, which causes you to fall behind in school. Maybe you graduate, maybe you don’t, but you will more than likely NOT go to college, which means you have to get a low-paying job to support your kid. Your social life is now non-existent and while your classmates are partying it up in college, you’re bagging groceries and changing diapers. Sounds super glamorous to me.

8. Eminem. First of all, as I have stated before, the only white people allowed to rap are the Beastie Boys. You just cannot be a white rapper and take yourself seriously. Second, why is this dude still making music? We get it – you grew up in a Detroit, had a rough life, and hate your wife. If I have to hear him talk about tying people up and setting the house on fire one more time while I’m at the gym, I may commit some arson myself. Can we move on, please?

9. “Your Love is My Drug”. If I had to nominate a song for “Most Obnoxious Song Ever Written,” it would be this little gem by Ke$ha (famous for her use of Jack Daniels as toothbrush/toothpaste combo). It is not only mind-numbingly repetitive, but her voice is so grating that it literally causes me physical pain to listen to this song. Unfortunately, this song is (inexplicably) one of the most popular of the summer, so I also have to endure it (along with “The Way You Lie” by the above-mentioned Eminem) at the gym.

So, let me hear it. What are the things you’re tired of seeing & hearing about in this great (but severely misguided) nation of ours?

It doesn’t sparkle with me

Apparently, Miley Cyrus hates “Twilight.”  http://movies.yahoo.com/news/usmovies.accesshollywood.com/miley-cyrus-twilight-its-cult 

This raises my opinion of her slightly, though I still kind of want to vomit every time I hear about her. If I had to make a list of 3 things that are currently suffering from overexposure, I would have to say Twilight, Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, and the Jonas Brothers, in that order. 

I’m convinced that the world of pop culture is run by a secret society of thirteen-year-old girls. They are probably very similar to the fourth grade girls of Southpark in the episode “The List.” (Thus the fascination with sparkly vampires). How they came into power and where their base of operation is, I don’t know. All I know is they are remarkably successful at pushing their agenda.

Last summer, when the Jonas Brothers reached the peak of their popularity (and when they were on tour), this elite gaggle of 7th graders roped Burger King into promoting the brotherly trio of Disney-manufactured fame. I could not even get a bloody order of chicken fries without having to see their sickeningly sweet faces staring back at me from my paper tray liner.

Now, this fall, the secret society of girls has  again talked BK into promoting a teeny-bopper fad: Twilight. They’re doing Twilight-based burger shot meals, Twilight paper crowns, Twilight-BK gift cards, and other related items. Once again, my chicken fry munching has been invaded by teeny culture. Keep it up BK, and I’ll swear off chicken fries forever.

While Miley Cyrus has not yet made it into BK kids’ meals (mostly because of the Disney-McDonald’s partnership on Happy Meals, I’m sure),  she was in Subway kids meals for a while before she became so ubiquitous. Unfortunately, our mysterious society of little girls has managed to push Miley into Wal-Mart. And I mean ALL of Wal-Mart. She is in the jewelry section, the toy section, the little girls’ clothing section, the posters, the magazine covers, and even the food section. Not only that, but she has her own clothing line in the junior’s department.

Clearly the thirteen-year-old girl culture cult is strong and powerful. They even managed to flood Facebook applications with this trifecta of evil. “Bumper Stickers” and “Flair” are chock full of Twilight, Jonas Brothers, and to a lesser extent, Hannah Montana  quotes, lyrics, and pictures. I think it’s time for older people to reclaim the world of pop culture. Enough of this sugary sweet pop music, and enough about vampires v. werewolves. Can we move on now?