I’ve had a hectic week at work – launching a HUGE project into the world that makes me feel a little like sending my kid off to college all over again. But I had to pop in for a very quick and therefore poorly written and unproofed entry about the way other adults and people in the media treat teens/young adults these days.
My brain started crunching this issue when all hell broke loose over Miley Cyrus’s VMA performance and her following Wrecking Ball video. I just kept thinking about the Madonna Like a Prayer video and how that controversy was probably bigger (Pepsi disowned her, remember?) but because of the lack of social media, it didn’t feel bigger.
Dude. Miley is 20. She’s rich and famous and I know some people are worried she’s being exploited by why don’t we shout that from the rooftops when these kids are on the Disney Channel? Exploitation doesn’t always involved lude photos or videos. Exploitation is using someone at the detriment of them for the benefit of you. Why weren’t these people “worried” about her sacrificing her childhood for fame and fortune before she was old enough to need a bra?
Not that I’m saying we should have been fussing then, I just don’t understand the fuss NOW.
Anyway – I just write it off as another young adult celebrity trip down “Talk About Me” Lane. She’s not the first to go down that road, she won’t be the last. Do I worry about her? Yeah. But not because she’s licking a hammer on a music video. But because she is 20 and rich and famous! I worry about Taylor Swift too! Jeez.
And then, we had an AWFUL story make the rounds this week. We had a 15-year old boy streak a football game two weeks ago. My band-parent friends thought it was HYSTERICAL. Our team was getting KILLED and so many people appreciated the levity. In the weeks following I didn’t meet one person who said anything other than, “I hope he didn’t get in too much trouble.”
But then he did. And it appears that some officials tried to put the spotlight on the trouble, maybe as an attempt to stop it from happening again? And now? the young man is dead from an apparent suicide.
I’m not going to pretend to know why he killed himself, but it’s just got me back to the chain of thinking…When did we stop allowing teenagers to make stupid mistakes?
Guys…listen to some of the shit I did as a teenager.
- Blared songs like “Me So Horny” out of our car windows with friends driving down the strip at UT late at night. Singing along with it out the windows like we were drunk. Which we were not, surprisingly enough. We were basically 15-year olds singing to strange college men about being horny.
- Put signs on the back of our CATHOLIC SCHOOL VAN WINDOW driving to Nashville for a field trip that said, “Honk if you’re Horny!” Our van had our school’s name on it! (I think…) Can you imagine if someone snapped a photo of that today? Hell, they’d probably expel us now. And I remember we wondered why we didn’t get many honks…as an adult I want to find the few that DID honk and say, “REALLY? To a CATHOLIC SCHOOL VAN?”
- We mooned passerbys from the same van. As in, pulled down our pants and stuck our butts to the window while on a field trip for our school.
- We ankeld boys at school. (They call it “pantsed” around here.) As in – we pulled down their pants to be funny. Usually you were just going for PANTS but once someone got underwear too and nudity ensued and while the guy was embarrassed? It was something we all laughed about for years.
- In return – the guys would flip up our uniform skirts to force us to flash our undergarments to the world. So, of course, we wore shorts underneath. And this was a Catholic school!
- Sang loud songs constantly around many adults who obviously just chose to ignore us…songs like, “I want to sex you up” “Tic Tac Toe…X is for sex or maybe so.” and the aforementioned, “Me So Horny.”
This is just a peppering of things I came up with that if videos went viral, or photos were posted online, we probably would have been punished severely for lude behavior. I just don’t understand when the part of growing up where you test out your adult/sexual identity – when did that become so awful? How is it that our parents and teachers were able to ignore it while so many today get punished? Is it because of social media which means it spreads and people feel PRESSURED into responding? I just don’t know. But I don’t like it.
I see this behavior that makes the news and imagine myself young and in these situations and don’t ever see me doing much differently. I don’t ever look at a rich young celebrity and think, “Dude…I totally wouldn’t have done that.” No…the opposite, I always think, “Thank GOD there was no internet when I was young.” Because I know I would have done it. I would have done it all. And I would have been punished too severely and shamed and ridiculed.
I don’t know. This is rushed and I just had to get it out there because it’s really starting to bug me. One of the commenters at al.com said it best:
We have effectively criminalized childhood and adolescence. We have turned many situations such as public nudity (streaking), urinating outdoors, and sex between adolescents into “sex crimes” that effectively end the lives of kids who make mistakes by placing them on sex offender registries designed, originally, for sexual predators. …Hope we are all feeling so much safer as a society due to our insane policies…
I don’t know the solution. At all. I wish I did. But I did want to go on record documenting the fact that had I been a 15-year old today? I’d be screwed.