Up until about a year ago I didn’t really notice the sexualization of children by adults in our entertainment media. Maybe it wasn’t there. Maybe the trend was so subtle that it’s actually been there for years and I’m just starting to notice it.
Now that I’m a parent, though, it bothers me even more. I sort of feel like an elderly curmudgeon, blathering on about the dangers facing our kids–and maybe I am.
I don’t think I’m being a prude, though. I’m not against sex, sex education, the portrayal of the human form in art.
What I am against, especially in light of real life tragedies that ruin the lives of innocent children, is the portrayal of kids as sexualized beings interacting with adults in sexual ways.
Here’s one example– the “baby with a beard” Just For Men commercial. I get that it’s supposed to be funny, but here’s a toddler out engaging in very adult behavior, with very adult women. It may be a big stretch to connect this to exploitation of minors, but it starts to erode the idea that kids are–well, kids.
Last year (before I was a parent) my wife and I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love. Overall it was a great movie–except for the child pornography subplot in which a high school girl offers naked pictures of herself to Steve Carrell’s character, and then later in an “aw shucks” moment gifts those same pictures to his middle school aged son. Regardless of what teenaged girls may actually do, is this the message we should send? That not just is it ok to take naked pics of yourself, it’s also cute and somehow endearing?
Along those same lines are the middle-aged women who drooled over the Twilight movies, cheering for Taylor Lautner to disrobe. At the time, he was 17 years old. In the movie American Reunion (from the admittedly bawdy American Pie series), a subplot features adult Jim and company partying (and trying to score) with high school kids.
At my son’s current age, I don’t worry too much about him being mauled by a soccer mom. When he’s a teenager, though, he’s going to be one handsome devil, especially if he takes after his old man. I just hope he gets the chance to experience love–in every sense of the word–the way a kid should, and not as the object of some deviant’s affection.
All right, curmudgeon mode off. Next time I’ll post about Wolfe’s devastating diaper blowout. It’s not such a heavy (philosophically, at least) subject.