Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kid Stuff, Psychology and the Science of Cartoons

There is some weird shit out there in Kid-Dom these days. Sometimes I am just baffled by what I see. I often find myself wondering, 'who writes this stuff, who okays it and what do kids actually think about this'?!

What is appropriate and what is not appropriate?

This began to bother me when I read about the iCarly episode that Nickelodeon aired. NAMI was the one to report on it and this is what they said:

"iCarly, a popular comedy for “tweens” and younger kids, will air a show “I Lost My Mind,” w/a character who checks into a “mental hospital”; her friends try to “break her out.” Promo commercials use language like “crazy” and “insane.”
If inclined, contact Nickelodeon at: or: (212) 258-7579 or Nickelodeon Viewer Services, 1515 Broadway 44th Floor, NY 10036."

I can't count how many times in my own life filled with television, movies, etc that scenes like this one have been rampant. and, we don't even bat an eyelash. Why is that? Maybe the perpetuation of this stigma is the PROBLEM. Hmm, ya think?

Then, a few weeks later, I checked out a book from the local library for Berlyn. It was called “Don’t call me Pruneface” and I thought it looked silly and amusing. Especially because of the title. Literally on the first page is this picture/caption:

I felt really uncomfortable even reading this to my daughter. I kept thinking to myself “what does she think this word means? Is this supposed to be funny?”

Having been called many of these names in my own life by former friends, acquaintances, boyfriends - “crazy, lunatic, psycho, mental, nuts” – these are words that HURT. These are words that carry a very strong and negative connotation to them regardless of how you “mean” them. Most people are so ignorant or clueless that they think they are harmless.  Or, don’t care. I’ve even caught myself referring to people with these words and I feel such a sense of shame. The most shameful part is that I don't even really MEAN it, it's just such a habit that they involuntarily come out.

How do we break this cycle?

Next is a subject I definitely need to pay more attention to and be concerned with. Having a daughter is both a blessing and a curse.

I've really started to notice how females are portrayed in television shows, books, songs, movies, and our society. I am not a feminist by any means but I am also not a soccer mom. I am not married (I choose not to be), I am in full support of nudity, pin ups and burlesque; I love Motley Crue and 'Married with Children' (which are 2 of the most sexist. misogynist things out there) but, I am all about women's lib, women's rights, etc. I am a dichotomy, I know... Ha!

So, I was really startled when, in a scene from Scooby‘s“Camp Scare” with Velma and Daphne, Velma is told by a male to "just stand and look pretty". Daphne's excited/giggly response? "He thinks you're pretty!!!"

I had a “what-the-fuck” moment. I couldn’t believe my ears. The original Scooby is from 1969 (so, sexism might seem a little more fitting back then) but this movie was made in 2010.

Not good.

Don't even get me started on Katy Perry. I truly love her (her style and her music) and so does Berlyn. A LOT. Do I think she's harmless? Yes, personally I do. But some of her lyrics are not appropriate for young girls. and kids always have a knack for picking out/hearing the worst parts. Recently, Berlyn said to me "Mommy, can I hear that 'Strangers in my Bed' song?" HUH?! Translation = "Last Friday Night".

I do not want to ever become one of those parents who uses the media as a "babysitter" and/or educator.  I definitely believe in monitoring what my child is exposed to.

At the same time, I don't believe in being TOO rigid and censored or denying my child the ability to discover music, art, books and film.

It's a hard call.

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