My blood runs cold…my angel is a centerfold–discussing media frenzies with teens

“Years go by I’m lookin’ through
A girly magazine
And there’s my homeroom angel
On the pages in between

My blood runs cold
My memory has just been sold
My angel is the centerfold
Angel is the centerfold”

SONGWRITERS
RICCO, LUIGI / ESCANO, PHILIPPE /

A lot has been tweeted, blogged and mentioned about the recent MTV VMAs and the provocative (warped, unsettling & weird) performance by a former child star. I am going to keep her name out of this, referring to her as ‘starlet’ because honestly, this is what she wanted. Attention. So desperately, she was willing to do whatever it took to get it and I refuse to add to it.

As a mom of a soon-to-be teen girl who was a  HUGE FAN of that star’s show, it was uncomfortable, to say the least.  As a mom of an older teen, who thinks he knows it all, it is a reminder of the guidance a young adult still needs.  They may be ‘on paper’ adults, but they do not have the maturity nor the experience to handle the choices.

This former starlet has been raised to thrive on this attention, and in recent years she’s tried to shed the ‘child’ image to be taken more for the adult she is becoming.  This is not unlike what I’m going through as a parent of a 16YO– trying to assert his independence every day.  Staying up late, on the computer, going out with friends, keeping things more private.  Thankfully, he can go through this transition with us and in his social networks.  For a celebrity–it is for the world to see.

As a parent, you begin to let go, little by little, seeing where the latest level of responsibility or ‘button pushing’ takes the kid.  It starts with letting them go on play dates, then wearing mascara in 7th grade, to driving, hanging out late with friends, then college…  When he/she crosses the line, you pull back on the reigns and reassess how much he or she can handle.  It is an iterative process, and I’m only starting.  By 20, starlet’s age, I’m hoping that my son will be at college and on his own, with only small reminders from me on acting responsibly. I don’t expect him to be perfect, but I do hope he has a ‘moral line in the sand’–that he holds himself accountable internally.  As my mom said when I left for college, “I have to trust I raised you right so far.” She knew her work was not done, nor will mine be with my kid.

So, this begs the question–Where are her parents?  You know, the ones that saw their profiles and careers take off after she was discovered?  The ones that lived a higher lifestyle than they would have regularly, if it weren’t for her?  Have they learned nothing from the kids before her? From what I’ve read, she’s enlisted the professional advice of a guy who worked with Brittany Spears–um, again, did they not see how ‘well’ that went?

I also have read that her parents are going through their own issues and are potentially divorcing.  Sad to see really, after two decades together.  However, it happens and I get that it can be pretty distracting.  But, guess what? You have kids.  One that made you a ton of money– is really screaming for attention, and it is time to reign her in.  Yep, she is an adult, but you still have influence, whether you think you do or don’t.  I still get shivers when my mother scolds me for a misstep. (Yeah, adults have them, and moms always catch them)   A good old-fashioned sit down discussion is warranted–“So, where do you see this career in 5 years?”  or “You know you could grow up to be influential in this business–take a cue from Jodie Foster or Ron Howard–it can be done.”

This same thing seems to be happening to Justin Bieber too–trying so hard to shed the kid image that he looks like a parody of himself.  Seriously, does he not realize that he is about as suburban looking as he can get, but he’s desperately trying to be all gangsta?  Did we look like that in college? Perhaps, and again, only to our friends/family, but his mother’s response was  “I’m not naive to think that my child is perfect and making all the best decisions of his life,”   Yeah, 19, again, technically an adult, but then again…not really.  Especially, when your kid makes a bagillion dollars a year and is in that rock ‘n roll lifestyle.

Back to being the parent of my kids–I did discuss the awards show with both kids.  I don’t condone Lady Gaga’s performance anymore than I do the starlet’s …so we discussed being known for your voice and talent–not your stripping abilities or gimmicks.  I don’t want my kids to think I was trying to be hip by tuning into the show either.  I only tuned into the show due to the fact I admire Justin Timberlake (oh, and by the way, he started as a child performer–no public meltdowns needed there–crazy successful man now) and wanted to see him perform.  So, with both kids, we talked about respect, gimmicks, not being yourself, sex, true talent, growing up and respect again.

Bottom line on all of this? Don’t dismiss these opportunities–underneath the media frenzy…there are teachable moments for many age groups, parents included.

I truly hope this girl realizes that she has a chance to turn this around.  Unfortunately, I am afraid we’ll be hearing more from her…as a culture of gawkers, we love train wrecks.

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