Friday, January 11, 2008

I Don't Want Britney to be My Nanny, But . . .

*Originally posted at Seattle Mom Blogs on January 4, 2008.

Last year, before the head-shaving and diving off the deep end incident involving the distraught young celebrity, I was thinking about writing something defending the likes of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Sparked by a February 12, 2007, Newsweek cover, "The Girls Gone Wild Effect: Out-of-Control Celebs and Online Sleaze Fuel a New Debate Over Kids and Values," I felt the need to toss my tiny opinion into the three-ring-circus surrounding these young celebrities and the magnifying glass life they are leading.

Talent aside (because I do not think getting into a debate over the presence of "real" talent when it comes to Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan has anything to do with our obsession with them), the world is watching them.

In our media-driven society, the world is smaller than it used to be. Computers and satellite t.v. reach people in the most remotest of remote places. Advertising is poured down our necks like crack candy and we're eating it up with wild abandon.

The likes of these young women and the sexualization of them is all over the place.

Should we blame them, these children, for being part of the machine that feeds us what we want, what we crave?

We need to blame ourselves.

I remember when Madonna got big. I still have my "Like a Virgin" album. My friends and I wore silly lace skirts, black jelly bracelets and ratted our hair out. We grabbed our fake microphones and gyrated to her music. We were just like her. We were eleven.

The difference between now and then is that instead of playing "dress-up" at home, girls are actually sporting the looks of their most coveted celebrities in real life, in the classroom and at the mall.

Again, who do you think is to blame?

We are.

The line has been crossed. No longer are famous people "off limits" to us common folk, they are reachable and if one cannot actually be their favorite celebrity, they can at least look like them, smell like them and act like them.

And if all else fails, there will be a willing mob of paparazzi there to record their every move so that we can further fuel our addiction with them.

Do I think these young role models have made some bad choices? Of course. So did others that came before them, like Mae West, Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. But it is our obsession with them that drives their bad behavior into the lives of our children. It is our addiction that allows us not to say "no" to our daughters when they want to wear a g-string under their low-rise jeans in the 4th grade. It is our fascination that gives girls the message that it is okay to act like these pitiful, sad and desperate young celebrities who are as much a victim of this as we are.

It has to end.

Obviously, we've seen these young women fall to rock bottom. They've been jailed, fined, embarrassed, scrutinized, humiliated, rehabilitated, lost control of their futures and even had their children taken away from them.

Shouldn't this be a signal that it is time to back off? What the media creates is an environment for anyone, especially a young person still so vulnerable, to fail with a guarantee that there will be a hundred cameras there to watch it happen.

As a parent of young children, I really try not to let it in. I am not doing a good job though, as my People magazine fills the mailbox each Saturday and I wait like a kid waiting for the ice cream man, to rip open it's cover and read the latest "gossip."

It's pretty bad when I have to hide the covers because they aren't appropriate for my kids to see.

With a heavy heart, I am not renewing my subscription. I'll have to treat my celebrity magazines as contraband, and make my kids exposure to them as limited as possible.

I think there has to be an understanding on our part. There has to be discussion from a very young age about what is real and what is not. There has to be reinforcement of your individual family values on a consistent basis if you ever want them to stick with your kids.

For with this worldwide and in-your-face exposure of spiraling celebs, there is also an opportunity. An opportunity to teach your children, and if we don't take it, than we, and only we, are to blame.


hello insomnia said...

I don't subscribe to People, but I watch way too much Real Housewives of Orange County. I'm sure we'll have to have the conversation that none of those Housewives are real.

Ann(ie) said...

I subscribe to People AND I watch Real Housewives of Orange County, but I also know I'll have to change my ways when my kids are old enough to know what's going on. Which stinks, but it'll have to happen. I applaud you, girl and this is really well written. I do think Britney is a giant nutbag guilty of ridiculous and dangerous infractions regarding her children, but I do concur that she is probably in need of some severe psychological help and has been WAY over exposed from a very young age.

carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
carrie said...

My only saving grace is that "The Realy Housewives of the OC" is on past my kids bedtime!

Thanks Annie :)

carrie said...

I mean, "Real."

painted maypole said...

well said. we do feed the machine. and they are CHILDREN. growing up withway too much money, way too much influence, way too much opportunity to misbehave.

Clubbs said...

Good for you! I've never understood the fascination with celebrity gossip. I'm glad you're making an effort to break that habit. Good luck!

Bob @ Every, Every Minute

Rock the Cradle said...

Strong work. Plus, now you have a little reward money for yourself...what does the cost of a subscription to People cover?

Pedicure? Chocolate?
Pedicure with chocolate?

Kyla said...

True, true, true.

Family Adventure said...

Awesome post Carrie. The whole Britney debacle frightens me. I said to my husband it is reminiscent of the frenzy around Anna Nicole Smith, and we all know how that's like we are all watching a disaster unfold, in slo-mo. A person is self-destructing on national TV. .And we somehow think that's ENTERTAINMENT. I believe that if she didn't have cameras following her everywhere, she'd be a much healthier person today. But who knows for sure?

The only thing I know for sure, is that I want my kids shielded from that kind of media coverage - be it in magazines, TV or radio. I know I can't do it forever, but I'm going to try to do it for as long as possible.


Molo said...

Hey Sis,

I just wrote a small essay discussion this topic, but I will spare it from you and just bring up this one point:

What about the supposed role models, or just models (not the profession) that your boys are exposed to? Is their behavior any less frightening? The child-sports stars leave surreal lifes of fame, fortune and never grow up...the steriod abusing, the crime. The rock and hip/hop stars with lives of violence and drugs. All these too-young men trying to grow up with thier own scrutiny and loads of money and god knows what kind of wierd pressures...

they aren't living the most respectable lives either.

I'm not sure how you prevent your kids from seeing the disgusting way we all focus in on these individuals-but you are right in that it is not the individuals who are to blame, it's the people, everyone of us, who takes sick fascination in hearing the stories, seeing the footage, and gossiping the gossip.

I know I do the same.

My advice, don't hesitate to tell your kids how f'cked up those folks lives really are, and how they dont have friends so much as leeches.

See, I still am writing an essay.