Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Mommas Are Gonna Be Mad

OK, moms, don't shoot the messenger . . . I'm just a thinker.

So, of late, I've been inundated with Disney's High School Musical 2. Talk about a build-up - they plugged this thing so much, even I was almost excited about the premier. Of course, that excitement wained after the first 400 times I've had to watch or hear it since. I have sworn to myself that if I hear Ashley Chip-N-Dale or Cordon Bleu sing one more song, I will hammer rusty framing nails into my ears.

I understand that Disney exists to serve its shareholders and will whore-out everything possible to achieve that end. Somehow, I don't think that was Walt's vision, but hey, he's dead and who cares what the FOUNDER thinks anyway. At any rate, there are HSM2 action figures and lunch boxes and greeting cards and games and books and soundtracks and downloads and wallpapers and screen savers, and and and and . . . and, NOW, I hear that it'll be on ice too - coming soon to your local professional hockey forum or anywhere that they can keep water frozen for three hours. And as though the brainwashing isn't sufficient with all that, Radio Disney keeps it hammered into our little princess' heads every waking moment. And why? Because Prince Throckmorton and Princess Ashley of Tisdale won't let us turn it off.

Ah, but wait, discipline the child you say. Take charge. Be the parent. Riiiigggghhhhhttttt. Disney has apparently included subliminal hissy fit training into their media blitz. Right behind Sharpei's (who names a character after a dog??) face and just beneath the audible music layers are the instructions on how to drive your parents to drive spikes into their auditory canals.

Having set that colorful stage, let me pose some questions - peel another layer off the onion:
Have you actually watched the movie (or any of the Disney Channel propaganda)? Have you noticed, with the exception of Raven, how the girls all fit the very molds that we don't want our daughters to embrace? Pretty. Skinny. Perfect. Perky. Flirtatious. Materialistic. And what's with the prance? Those girls don't walk from point A to point B, they strut.

Now, go to the mall (or grocery store, church, school) or anywhere that there are little girls from ages 3 - 11. The vast majority will not be capable of walking without a runway strut. So here's my dilemma: we don't want our children to be weight-conscious or have their self-image cast by celebutards and "models" yet we will let them be entertained (a term I use loosely) by programming that cements these images into their psyche. Miss Teen USA personifies this stereotype all the more. Miss South Carolina's fifteen minutes of notoriety came and went, but was worth a blog or two. Radio and TV pundits had a field day with her mastery of Engrish. But the sad truth is that all the energy that went into helping her be "pretty" enough to compete in such a shallow event precluded her from being articulate and educated. I would think that we want more for our children, boys and girls, than for them to be objectified for how they look - for the visual mold into which they fit. Quite honestly, I've seen some ugly dorks and some beautiful morons - yet for my children, I'd like a balance of educated, attractive, spiritual, and emotional. The pendulum doesn't have to swing so hard one direction that it sticks in the clock casing.

If you're going to let them watch and listen to that stuff, remind them that it's "make believe." If stuff they see on TV or in the movies is capable of scaring them, then it's also capable of scarring them by creating an ideal self-image that is far from ideal. Let them dream, let them be happy and content, but don't perpetuate the illusion of happily ever after. Otherwise, they'll be sitting at a keyboard one day as I am, lamenting where things went awry - assuming they ever realize it.

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