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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kids' Choice Awards - not for kids anymore?

It's that time of year again: the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, my absolute favorite show ever! 

I only had to see the aftermath of photos from this event to realize that there is an incredible dearth of appropriate role models for kids these days. The cleavage, the thighs, they're all out in full force for this event that is supposed to be geared for children. What the heck is going on?!

I'm still reeling, apparently, from the Teen Choice Awards of three years ago where Miley Cyrus pole danced. Nice one. This year, Katy Perry and Selena Gomez made headlines because of their midriff-bearing outfits rather than anything they really contributed to the program. That didn't bother me so much as the skimpy tops and skirt? that Katy was wearing - the one that looked like she was either intentionally hiking it up in front to give us a free show (no, never!) or that she had visited the ladies room recently and half of it got stuck in her waistband.

Kids Choice Awards 2005. Come on,
Paula, put your boobs away already.
I have nothing against Katy Perry as far as adult listeners go, but I can't understand why the children's entertainment industry continues to practically tout her as a role model. Virtually everything she's done professionally is inappropriate in some way, shape or form for the younger audience she undoubtedly reaches - and she earns her living talking and acting like none of us would want our children to act. If you love her music, hey, that's great - but I can't stand people justifying her as being "appropriate" for young kids to watch.

Because of the increasing use of technology, especially the ease in accessing it that kids have, it's increasingly difficult to separate what these people do in their professional lives from what they do in venues like this. People can say all they want that a child is "not going to understand" that a former porn star is in their school reading books to them, but our children today are way more aware than we ever were about these realities - I just don't think they always understand how to appropriately process that information and make sense of it.

When I was in grade school, Madonna's career really took off. I specifically remember when the Like A Virgin album came out - I was probably 10 or 11 years old. I remember the album cover and being embarrassed, kind of grossed out, even, over what she was wearing. I also remember the lyrics - only slightly understanding what it meant to be a virgin - or even like one - and connecting the meaning to the album cover.

The grosser and more outrageous she got, the less I liked her music, thank God. But what if it hadn't been that way? And why was my mother letting me listen to this crap?

Anymore it seems that there is nothing embarrassing about dressing that way, or implicating something sexual in the lyrics. We barely register a reaction, then, when we see Katy Perry on TV one moment endorsing a kid's program, and then later on see her half- (three quarters?) naked in a video.

The lyrics of "Teenage Dream" talk about getting drunk and having sex - but as one writer put it when referring to a group of her fans awaiting her arrival in Denver,
a sea of teenagers, mostly young ladies — not quite the hyper-sexual "Teenage Dream" Katy Perry sings about in her hit songs.
Really? Says who? Does this guy have kids, or even know what the current rate of teen pregnancy and abortion are these days? Totally clueless.

He went on to add that her "simplistic lyrics" were fun for the kids, and "adults can relate to her fun sexuality." Yeah, completely clueless. You cannot separate the two: because kids, like most people, can both see and hear at the same time.

When someone complains about these women and their status as role models, others immediately pipe up with one or two very predictable responses: "Have you seen how kids dress these days?" is usually one of them. Judging from the way people dress for the Kids' Choice Awards, is it any wonder why children dress like they do?

That is usually followed up with, "You're just jealous!" Considering I'm about ten years and three kids older than Katy Perry, no, I don't have her figure. That doesn't really bother me - I'd rather my daughter see what a normal body looks like, not something manufactured and unrealistic. What is there to be jealous of? I'm in a normal, stable relationship, I can go out in public without fear of someone recognizing me, and I'm doing pretty well despite that I'm not loaded. Works for me.

As far as Selena Gomez, I really don't know much about her other than what I see on supermarket stands. And honestly, I'm glad my daughter is too young to know who she is, either. I do know that she's Justin Beiber's girlfriend, and recently posed on the cover of Cosmo. And if Beiber's still professing to be a virgin, he won't be for long if Selena decides to follow the advice on the cover:

Interestingly, what appears to be a teen fan site covered the questionable blaring headlines, presumably for their younger audiences:

Commenters on the Huffington Post weighed in on the show and it's questionable guests, with one guy calling it 'kiddie porn, or more like porn for kids.' Several agreed that while Selena's age makes her a legal adult, "she's not really a woman yet," and because 'still looks like she's 15,' it creeped several out to see her dressed so provocatively.

One mom of a 10-year-old said her daughter was confused and sad to see the cover because it had such a grown-up image. I don't begrudge Selena for wanting to have more of a 'grown-up' career and escape her Disney image, but I think posing for Cosmo is probably the wrong way to do it - as the mother said, it's a 'smut magazine' that sends the wrong message to young women about the way they should look and act. And I don't doubt that some girls probably did buy a copy of this magazine because she was on it - and probably got a handful of other 'useful information' at the same time.

More reading:
Study: Low-income kids starting sex on average at 12
Miley Cyrus voted worst role model for young girls (by teenage girls themselves)


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