Mama Bear’s Panties are in a Wad Again

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I am a 40 something female and mother to two teenager girls. To my husband’s chagrin, we consume, ie – buy stuff, somewhat majorly. In spite of the bad economy, our credit card bills prove we’re sure doing our part to improve it.

It’s doubtful anyone in Hollywood gives a damn how I feel about anything. But I’m here to tell you I see myself and those who share my views on many of the products that are aimed with laser-like precision at teenage audiences – particularly female – as a new “inconvenient truth.”

All  Mama Bear asks is that you please stop sexualizing younger and younger women.

I think girls have it pretty hard these days and have to put up with a lot of garbage being shoved into both their conscious and subconscious minds. As a group, I don’t see where young women have moved either forwards or backwards in recent years. Actually I sometimes think the whole world’s headed straight towards hell. For the record that doesn’t make me a right wing wack job. I know you love absurd generalizations, but that doesn’t even make me part of the right wing.

The other day I was all over Teen Vogue. Today it’s that charming little show called Gossip Girl, which since day one has billed itself, quite effectively and accurately as “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Grab a hard hat, perhaps a xanax and Tivo a few episodes of The Good Wife. Big Announcement: I don’t want my teenagers, or anyone else’s to be  exposed to an episode of Gossip Girl being referred to by the CW network  as  a “Very Special Threesome”

The upcoming episode was also promoted this way: “three major characters having sex. At the same time. In the same bed. Together.”

My first reaction, in Gossip Girl, xoxo vernacular is, WTF?

The Parent’s Television Council has sent a letter asking CW Network affiliates to preempt the next “Gossip Girl” episode on November 9, which will feature major characters in a sexual threesome.

Aspersions were cast on “The Parent’s Television Council” more often than not in internet editorials and news articles. The tone overall was dismissive, speaking of parents “getting panties in a wad” or “sheets twisted.” Some subtle. Others, not so much.

Newser’s headline was Parents Council Freaks Over Gossip Girl Threesome. Frankly I’m thrilled there’s a group who “freaked.” Use of juvenile verb aside, the article describes the PTC as being on “the warpath.”

Southern Baptists, Scientologists, moonies,  gays and lesbians, members of Ducks Unlimited, PETA, the National Rifle Association or the Junior League – whoever you are, I applaud you.

My daughters and I have talked about this ridiculously titillating show before. I watched an episode or two with my then 15 year old during the first season. We mostly made fun of the absurd content, which features elite Manhattan high schoolers acting like elite Manhattan 28 year olds. We talked about it. I asked questions, listened and put in my two cents.

To my knowledge, neither of my daughters are watching the show this season. But you can bet that I’m going to be double sure when the episode is scheduled to air on November 9. A letter from PTC head, Tim Winter, acquired by The Wrap states:

“To include a storyline like this on a program that is expressly targeted to impressionable teenagers is reckless and irresponsible. We are asking each CW Network affiliate to use their common sense and preempt this episode.”

In reaction and after referring to the PTC as a “right-wing political action group”,  The Wrap, in an editorial at the online journal about the entertainment industry article says:

“Targeting teens wouldn’t make sense for The CW, since there’s far more money to be made attracting women 18-34 — the network’s declared demographic. Disney Channel and TeenNick are more likely targets for advertisers looking to reach teens and tweens.”

Yeah, right. The show is about kids in high school.

The article’s author must not have two teenage daughters both of whom received their first Barbie dolls from well meaning friends on their first birthdays.  He’s probably never been clothes shopping with them, where each trip to the mall is a challenging exercise in avoiding skankwear that should only be worn by 4 and a half foot tall street walkers.

Proctor and Gamble selling soap during As the World Turns to housewives is one thing. Selling to children is quite another. Up until around age 21 and in a manner that will confound them a year or two later,the youth demographic desires nothing more than to feel and perhaps even be, older.  Think of Gossip Girl as the television version of having a popular older brother with really cute friends.

We are most comfortable preaching to our own personal choirs, leaving the heavy lifting to other people. So am I going to call up my affiliate station and ask them not to air this episode of Gossip Girl? Nope. But I’m glad that somebody, whether it be a group or an individual did. Something that is this personally alarming should rouse the action of somebody. And if I’m not feeling quite as “alarmed” as I should? That in itself should give concern.

I’d love to think that every impressionable young woman out there has a parent, friend or family member, who watches over what television shows they consume. I’d love to think that Hollywood will stop pushing the envelope of reason when it comes to targeting young audiences with degrading sexual and violent images. I’m sick of hearing, “no one is going to make you watch it.”

My message to Hollywood? Stop making soft porn that you know full well will end up being consumed by teenagers. Pushing the envelope is not impressing me.  I compare you to the proverbial bad kid in kindergarten, the one who pushes and hits and knocks down everyone’s blocks. Without pause you ruin the good things that others  have carefully built in a matter of mere, reckless seconds. You immediately start talking about your rights, unable to grasp the concept of the rights of others. The principal is left with no choice but to make new rules. Everyone loses.

How about a few more shows that my whole family can enjoy, where I don’t have to keep a finger poised over the remote as if playing a video game, always ready to switch to The Weather Channel? If you’re listening and care what I think, please make high quality, non-violent, non anti-female (thought I was going to say pro-female, eh?) shows while you’re at it. Hint: The Good Wife is a great start. Just to prove it, I’m going to go out and buy something they advertise tomorrow :)

Comments

  1. says

    I agree with you all the way. Luckily, my girls don’t watch this show, but it is everywhere it seems. I feel like most of the world does not share my morals and family values anymore. TV and even PG13 movies are full of smut and the F-bomb…it can be very dissapointing at times. Love your vent!

  2. says

    LOL, “A Very Special Threesome.” Reminds me of the old school episodes of 80′s shows billed as “A very special episode of…” Like the Punky Brewster one where Cherry got stuck in the old fridge. Except the Gossip Girl “very special” ep is more like “special” like, you need to wear a helmet every day because you’re so “special” (read: idiotic).

  3. says

    Hmm… I may have to start watching. You know.. just to make sure that is appropriate and all.

    Seriously, though… my daughter just turned 13 and I’m getting my shotgun out now in fear of teen boys and rogue televisions.

  4. says

    I watched that show the first season and it’s absurd to watch high school students drinking Martini’s and having a racier sex life than I’ve ever had. Ugh! It’s not even good writing.

  5. says

    I was shocked when the media ads used WTF and OMFG…the show is billed for teens. Threesome? Ridiculous. Like you cant write a show that doesnt have to resort to teenage menage a trois? Get new writers. UGH.

  6. says

    SKANKWEAR!! What a great word!!! I’m going to HAVE to use that sometime.

    I wish your outstanding post could be read on TV “in a threesome” by a group of concerned parents (yeah, us “right wingers”). Good God, this crap is getting not only ridiculous but SICKENINGLY dangerous.

    Good post. I am gratified to see I’m not the only raging mom out there…. lol…
    ;)

  7. says

    Uhh… (mouth hangs open and three flies buzz in)

    Whoa. That is s so crazy that it feels like you could be making this up. This is unbelievable.

    These are the times I would love to be a fly on the wall at the meeting where this idea was pitched. Did ANYONE say, “You know, this might work on HBO with an adult show, but network television?”

    Okay, let’s assume someone said that and they pooh-poohed her. Yeah, her. A mother would never go along with this idea.

    What about the censors?!

    This is really crazy and makes me wonder what will be on the air when my kids are teens — three girls who are 9, 6 and 4.

    Oy vey.

  8. says

    Excellent post Margo. Thrilled to find your site, and want to put you in the loop for a worldwide “girl-driven” initiative we’re involved with that I’ll be blogging soon to snuff out the massive hypersexualized crud being leaked upon girls like an unwashable stench. (mind pollution has its price (see this APA study on the quantifiable harm I wrote about Packaging Girlhood on Shaping Youth…we’ve been landing rebel yells for a couple years now: http://www.shapingyouth.org/?p=309)

    It’s not enough for mama bears ‘mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore’ we’ve gotta get Goldilocks in the game to wake up and SEE the massive manipulation and profiteering that’s making cash registers go ‘ka-ching’ and kids’ psyches go ‘ka-boom’ as I’ve written before!

    Anyway, with you all the way on this, as are MANY and MULTIPLE orgs teaming up for a big ol’ backlash abrewin’…I’ll send you the concept paper offline, as I’d like your voice d thoughts in the media mix on this girl revolution for certain.

    Meanwhile, feel free to visit our ‘damaging drek’ category on Shaping Youth or ‘body image’ to debrief on the degree of toxic sludge…Then cleanse yourself with the ‘positive picks’ reminders that the power of media and marketing CAN be used for positive change…we just have to switch that track on a runaway train.

    Let’s keep in touch. Best, Amy

    http://www.ShapingYouth.org

  9. says

    Oh, and Margo, I’ll add to your readers that say their girls don’t watch the show, to ask about an open-ended question about one of the characters and see how she responds. (I’ve found in the various teens we work with that don’t Tivo, or are not allowed to watch it, they ‘see what the fuss is about’ at a friend’s house or online where all the episodes replay ‘whenevah’ …it’s ‘cultural currency’ to be ‘up to date’ on the absurd antics of some of this swill…and THAT m’dears is the mind pollution that’s leaking and stinking big time…CW knows this teen motivator of ‘the more you ban it/admonish it/censor it’ the more appeal it has to teens. Look at their ad campaign. Built for provocative ‘parental outrage’ and sadly the teens play right into their hands. (we teach this in our media literacy/branding counter-marketing sessions; the teens need to lift the veil and see how they’re being used in order to create their OWN backlash at the absurdity…our hands are tied to do it for ‘em)

    A part of me wants to crosspost this excellent piece on S.Y. and advise parents of the CW ratings ploys and the other side wants to ‘bury it’ by ignoring and not fanning the flames of controversy. Always a tough call with any bait for ‘shock schlock’ as I call it… ;-)

    Thx again, Margo…following you on Twitter now. I’m @ShapingYouth for any of your reader pals.

    • Margo says

      I’ve been thinking about the “bait for shock” business. If an older demographic (the 18 – 34 whom CW claims to be solely marketing to) is all, “well see what you did? Now me and every other person in America wants to watch it,” I feel like saying, “so what? Go ahead.” (and throw in a snarky comment about the state of their priorities:) I think the benefit of waking up parents to the marketing tactic in general, and to raise awareness of this specific episode is really the only choice. I’m certainly glad I heard about it. And the condescending tone taken towards groups of parents who react and speak out as being nothing more than a right wing fringe element has got to be gnawing at somebody else besides you and me.

  10. says

    I completely agree with you! It is apalling the things that they show on TV now! I think my grandparents would die of shock… and I certainly don’t want my kids to see stuff like that!

  11. says

    *applause*

    Well said, missy. My hat is off to you for so many reasons, but first and foremost, your being a MOM is second to none.

    I host a yearly Mommy’s Day Getaway her in Laguna Beach for all my mommy friends (I’m a fantastic Aunt!). Consider yourself invited always. =)

  12. says

    Gossip Girls is just a retarded show. I’ve lived through three teenagers so far, have got three now and I am under no misconception that my teens won’t see this stuff. They are quite devious when they want to be.

    I remember years ago standing in the middle of the Gap in outrage at the 8 foot photos of anorexic models for our girls to mimic. 14 years later and we have the glorification of the Gossip Girls with over-sexualized “teens” modeling ridiculous behaviors devoid of any real character.

    We have NOT come a long way baby, despite having females in powerful positions in every industry.

  13. says

    Yes Margo, yes! I’m terrified for my daughter. The messages sent to young girls are inexcusable.

    1) We’re moving to Texas where beauty pageants seem to be big, and that scares me. I don’t want Lily to get that doll girl mentality.
    2) I saw a girl walking down the street with her Mom yesterday. Must have been less than ten. She had on gold high heels, a short skirt, a t-shirt and a short fuzzy red jacket. I swear to God she looked like a hooker. WHY do people do this?!?!?!? She should be running around in overalls with her hair tucked behind her ears and a flower in her hands!

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