Shaping Youth Is In the L.A. Times Today, Yawn

miley pole2August 12, 2009 Well, it finally happened. Full tilt desensitization.

I suppressed a huge yawn and a roll of the eyes reviewing Miley’s pole dancing antics at the Teen Choice Awards with a great big ‘meh, here we go again.’

All of the replays of video and trending topics in the Twittersphere landed on me as a great big cynical ‘so what‘ example of the mouse house marketing machine in full swing.

Today’s LATimes story quotes me, but truth be told, when the reporter called me I barely looked up from my keyboard and shirked it off in ‘yah, I know all about it, and probably need to cover it’ style which revealed a ho-hum fatigue in my voice.

LA Times’ Dawn Chmielewski is a thorough journalist who ‘gets it’ in terms of how media is influencing kids and she always does her homework sans sensationalism…So I agreed to speak while simultaneously pointing her toward all the ‘usual suspects’ with pithy soundbites and research nuggets from stakeholders far more versed in dealing with the public eye.

Such as? Packaging Girlhood, So Sexy So Soon’s Jean Kilbourne & Diane Levin, S.Y.’s child development expert on body image Dr. Robyn Silverman etc. It’s no secret I prefer staying BEHIND the keyboard and am reticent about insta-media attention. (My NYT/Target experience helped that) But here’s the noteworthy thing:


As I reviewed Miley’s writhing with a flatline EKG, and narry a raised eyebrow it made me stop and wonder why the age compression and TCA controversy did NOT elicit a stronger reaction within me.

(Emily Bartek’s 13 Going on 30 post sums what the development meeting might sound like, which left me grinning, as it’s similar to the Mike Berenstain interview I wrote imagining a Hollywood pitch session trying to ‘spin’ his wholesome bears to ‘sell.’ )

I asked myself, “Has pornification of females become THAT normalized with slithering Axe Bomchickawawa girls and Beyonce’s Deréon divas posed as Sesame Streetwalkers that it’s become a punchline in itself? Is it the sheer pervasiveness, quantity and repetition of ‘shock schlock’ in a coarse media/marketing culture that’s shifted the dynamic to being ‘a bore?’

No…it’s because I already knew the ‘media conversation’ would miss the freakin’ point (just like the Target debacle).

It would veer away from the global impact of objectification, how it’s landing on kids, and fouling up a healthy sense of sexuality…

Instead, the Age of Conversation would quickly devolve into a petty, prickly snipefest of whether Miley was “just holding onto the pole for stability” or presenting a provocative pornified bump-n-thrust to “shake off the mouse glove” as a career move, as music critic Jessica Hopper stated in the article.

The larger conversation about kids getting damaged and the APA study (72pp) on the harm of early sexualization is what counts.

The rest is a snore for the talking heads of the ‘left and the right’ to spar about decency and conduct and cluck about ‘today’s kids’ yadayada.

I’ve already fielded calls and tweets with accusations of some invisible ‘agenda,’ or who is ‘behind the cause’ …So let’s be clear…Repeat after me:

sy_avatar_ningShaping Youth is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501c3 consortium with no political, religious, or censorship agenda.

Our only ‘cause’ is the emotional and physical well-being of children.

Period. Exclamation mark.

I’ll do a follow up with quotes from all of the academic rockstars I already mentioned, and post my interview with Jean Kilbourne of So Sexy So Soon who pioneered this conversation and has been in the trenches with her numerous documentaries and research on the quantifiable damage to kids for countless years. Stay tuned.

It’s far more worthy of media coverage than the Miley incident.

Let’s hope media ‘gets it.’



  1. All: Great Comment over on Rosalind’s site (where I’ll be content swapping soon) here:

    by Author: missy


    “I missed the Teen Choice Awards but I would have been embarrassed for my 9 year old to see this performance. I think it’s interesting how Miley mentioned the “Britney song playing on the radio” because it shows who she admires. The lyrics to this song are really dumb too.

    What 16 year old can go to a club anyway to have everyone look at her while she shakes her hips like yeah? I thought you had to be 21. Hey, let’s all grow up as fast as we can so we can get into nightclubs! It’s the ultimate.

    Miley gets away with the black bra, the pole dancing, short shorts, boots, etc. because she mentions God in her thank you speech.

    If a girl mentions God and has a great realationship with her parents then hey, she must be the salt of the earth.”

    See all comments on this post here:
    .-= Amy Jussel´s last blog ..Shaping Youth Is In the L.A. Times Today, Yawn =-.

  2. Also, I should add that I’ve validated people often don’t read ‘after the jump’ because they skim the headlines and have questioned me about the ‘YAWN’…

    Not saying the ISSUE is a yawn…I’m saying the convo of Miley’s antics specifically (was she using the pole for balance, etc.) are a yawn…

    OBJECTIFICATION is the topic to be discussed. AND how it’s landing on kids!!! (no yawn there, more of a yell!)

    Reinforces the ‘media soundbite’ mentality and the need for me to do a ‘Tumblr’ or Twitter version of this blog!! 🙂

  3. Been commenting on Emily’s post instead of mine, so go check it out, as she just added a brilliant response to the usual ‘get over yourselves/no big deal’ pervasive reactions.

    Emily Bartek Says:
    August 13th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    “Tristan, Thanks for responding. First of all–I agree with you that it’s no secret that the entertainment industry is there to make money by selling an image and a lifestyle, and no to churn out role models. And while I agree with you that the Mileys and Britneys of the world aren’t single-handedly degrading our culture, they (and by they I mean not only the performers but their producers as well) create a norming effect.

    Each time they step in front of audiences in skimpy outfits, sing as teenagers about sexual experiences, partying, and alcohol, and then be looked at as day-old bread by the time they reach 28, each of us learns a subtle lesson about what our culture values. (i.e. your voice is worth more and people will pay more attention to you if you’re young, sexy, social, you like to have fun, and you don’t complain.) And we reinforce the “rules” of those lessons on each other every day in our own lives.

    Americans may be a lot more prudish when it comes to more risque content, but I know that we’re not the only ones learning lessons from it.”

  4. Hellen Cedeno

  5. Rochell Terell

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