Monday, December 20, 2010

Bullies and the Entertainment Industry

I have recently had the opportunity to listen to a Keri Hilson song, which I believe is entitled, “Pretty Girl Rock.”  The tag line on this obnoxious song is “don’t   hate me ‘cause I’m beautiful.”  I think she sings this phrase maybe one hundred times throughout the song or something.  Anyway, I found this song completely abhorrent, not because it was asinine, but because it reminded me of a book I am reading called “Odd Girl Out” written by Rachel Simmons.  Now, I really like this book because it is one of those few books that is rather informative and I find it beneficial to read.  In this book Ms. Simmons writes about the various ways that young girls bully each other and how their aggressiveness is so much different than boys.  Let me tell you this, although I am only a few chapters into the book, I am finding it pretty disturbing and informative nonetheless because it just never occurred to me that young girls had the power to make each other feel so isolated from the world by just using words and what not.

When I was little, the kids that bullied me just made me feel stupid and beat the crap out of me.  Yeah I felt all alone in the world, but there was always the idea way in the back in my head that my friends would get my back, which we did for each other, because I thought that that was what friends did for each other.  Apparently, that is not the case for girls because most of the time it is their “friends” that bully them, and these girls are using their looks, popularity, sexuality or whatever they can as tools to accomplish it.  I don’t completely understand how it all works, but I am sure that it does, which brings me back to this stupid song I listened too.

What kind of message do you think the refrain “don’t hate me ‘cause I’m beautiful” sends to the little girls that listen to this song?  Do you think it is negative?  I think so.  I think that the song places too much emphasis on looks and sexuality.  In fact I think that the majority of modern television and music places too much emphasis on aspects of life that should be frivolous.  I mean how are we supposed to teach our children that looks don’t matter or that it isn’t ok to treat people poorly because they are different or that drugs and alcohol aren’t necessarily a good thing when they see their favorite characters on television and millions of commercials everyday sending exactly the opposite message millions of times a day?  Children don’t need to see this shit!  I don’t need to see this shit either, but we all do.  

I have read so many articles and books that show the average amount of time that a family sits in front of the boob-tube and it embarrasses me.  It is almost like the television is a member of the family to a lot of people.  This is precisely the reason that my wife and I do not pay for cable television.  I don’t want my son to be corrupted by it.  I want him to be able to talk about other things than last night’s episode of “American Idol” or the season finale of “Lost.”  There are just so many other things that should be more important.  I know that I am setting him up to be an odd ball when he does finally go to school, but I am hoping that if he doesn’t get exposed to the crap on TV non-stop for hours a day that he may be a better person for it.  I don’t want him growing up thinking that certain aspects of life that the t.v. portrays are socially acceptable or even positive cultural mores.  

The simple truth is that most of these messages aren’t and we all know it.  Take sex as an example. If you take what a lot of the TV programs show to heart, then you would believe that sex is no big deal and there is never any sense of commitment to the person that you’re banging at the time.  Therefore, it Is perfectly fine to have sex with someone other than your partner because it is meaningless.  Bullshit!  It is bad enough that as a society we all have to confront this as adults and young adults, either directly or indirectly, we don’t need to see it as children too on the afternoon sitcoms our parents subject us to do we?  No.  We don’t.  We need to learn that it is not ok to hurt the people we supposedly love like that.  Anyway, I digress.  

What I am firmly convinced of and what really peeves me is that it seems like we have all become too lackadaisical as parents and as people.  No, I am not blaming television for this.  After all, television only plays what is popular.  If we as a whole didn’t want to watch a television program then it wouldn’t play.  Therefore, we have no one to blame but us when it does.  Probably the turn that society has taken in regards to the entertainment that we all seem to enjoy hasn’t made the bullying of our children and of each other any worse, but it surely hasn’t made it any better either. I honestly don’t think that the way bullies bully others has changed all that much for centuries, but what has changed is what we continue to expose ourselves and our children too.

To tell the truth, I take a certain amount in solace in this because it means that my son will more than likely go through something similar to what I went through as a kid, and since we won’t pay for TV he won’t really be exposed to a lot of the crap that I abhor so much too.  So, his bullying problem is going to be relatively easy to deal with or perhaps easier to deal with than what the alternatives are for girls. I’ll just advise him to fight back like I did.  Sure he’ll get a few bumps and bruises but that is a small price to pay for being left alone right?  I don’t know what I would do if my son was a daughter.  I guess I would just have to rely on my wife to help get her through school.  I know that I would be virtually useless.  I can’t even help the five year old little girl I watch when she is having problems with other kids at school.  She just won’t talk to me about it, and I don’t know if she even talks to her mom or dad about it either.  We all know that something is wrong.  I can see the other kids laughing and pushing her when she gets off the bus, but I am helpless to do anything about it.  The poor little kid used to be so happy when she first started school.  Now she just looks so miserable.  It is terrible.  

So, I do what I know best.  I teach her to defend herself physically.  Nothing serious just a few tosses and submission holds, but that won’t work and I know it.  It seems like her self-confidence is totally shot.  I don’t know what else to do.  Like I said, I am useless in this kind of situation. I automatically turn to violence as an answer, which doesn’t work for girls.  As boys we are taught from a really young age to confront our problems face to face and getting physical just seems so normal to us or to me anyway, that it is almost comforting.  I guess girls aren’t taught to be like that, and, anyway, how do you confront a psychological attack or ostracism?  You can’t beat it up, so what else do you do?  I for one don’t know.  I guess she'll just have to wait it out or learn that she can talk to some about it and hopefully that will make things better for her.


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