« PSA | Main | Elmo Kicks Some Serious Butt »

September 28, 2010

This Week's Inflammatory Debate Question

Are parents who object to seeing Katy Perry in a low cut top on Sesame Street "prudes"?

gal_sesame-street_katy-perry_2.jpg

Wow. Really? Seems a bit harsh.

I'm not sure how we got from "consenting adults should be allowed to do X in the privacy of their own homes" to "parents who object to having their preschoolers exposed to X on a show designed for the 5-and-under crowd are censorious prudes", but I suspect it has something to do with the elimination of boundaries.

When my sons were that age, my husband and I were still trying to teach them the finely nuanced distinction between showing strangers your kneecaps in public and showing them your rear end. I freely admit that in a world where cartoon pink pigs performing stripteases on stripper poles are considered appropriate educational fare for the toddler set, the notion that there might be some value to voluntary restraint seems unbearably quaint.

Gotta indoctrinate kids early before the irrational fanaticism has a chance to set in, I always say. On the other hand, when even the NY Daily News thinks you're overdoing it, maybe there's a bit of jiggle room in there somewhere?

Posted by Cassandra at September 28, 2010 12:34 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.villainouscompany.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/3909

Comments

It wasn't the dress -- the folks at Sesame Street realized that she was setting a horrible *personal* example. Would you want *your* kids to emulate her lousy posture?

Posted by: BillT at September 28, 2010 01:22 PM

I don't think the folks at Sesame Street would recognize a bad example if they saw one :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 01:24 PM

When I first heard about this, I was trying to figure out what all the fuss was about, but seeing that picture two words came to mind were "wardrobe" and "malfunction". I'm pretty sure that outfit wouldn't pass muster at my daughter's elementary school, so I can see why some parents might object to seeing it on a show geared towards pre-schoolers.

Posted by: Rob Smith at September 28, 2010 01:24 PM

Did you also have to explain why Porky Pig, Donald Duck, et al, can go pants-free (and Minnie Mouse topless, at least in older cartoons), but that's not appropriate for little boys?

Posted by: Heartless Libertarian at September 28, 2010 01:36 PM

I read about this a while ago and didn't pay all that much attention to it. What made me write about it was the reactions. For example:

"Dang! I watched that video 7 times... but if you think there's anything inappropriate for kids in it, you're imagining things."

O-kay.... :)

Or my personal fave:

"America is such a sick society. We don't object to blood and guts on TV but go ballistic over sex."

I hear ya. Have you seen the SS episode where Elmo whips out his AK47 and blasts the living sh** out of The Muppitry? And yet this administration does nothing :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 01:42 PM

Did you also have to explain why Porky Pig, Donald Duck, et al, can go pants-free (and Minnie Mouse topless, at least in older cartoons), but that's not appropriate for little boys?

Hmmm... let me guess.

Could it be than animals don't normally wear clothes (except in children's cartoons) but people normally do? Or maybe it's that people aren't normally sexually aroused by animal body parts the way they are by... oh, I don't know... women's breasts? :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 01:44 PM

"Did you also have to explain why Porky Pig, Donald Duck, et al, can go pants-free (and Minnie Mouse topless, at least in older cartoons), but that's not appropriate for little boys?"

Umm, no. Because even at three my daughter understood that Porky Pig, Donald Duck, et al, weren't real.

I like Assistant Village Idiot's comment over at Tigerhawk's, "Appropriateness is not a unitary item, and changes from occasion to occasion. That is part of the social skills we teach children from earliest ages. It is a different dress when it is worn on older sister's music video that the 5 y/o watches over her shoulder than it is on a program that implicitly states 'This is for you. This is your show.'"

Posted by: DL Sly at September 28, 2010 02:06 PM

Geeesh - Sesame Street has come a long way since the days when Grover would play:
AROUND, OVER, and THROUGH
. Now a days Elmo does the same thing under a hottie's skirt. *er* "swing doors" sure have changed, don't they.

If you ask me,
THIS is a BETTER ELMO
. Yeah - A much
BETTER ELMO
.

;->


Posted by: Boquisucio at September 28, 2010 02:11 PM

"..maybe there's a bit of jiggle room in there somewhere?"

And too much jiggle with nowhere to hide...

Posted by: tomg51 at September 28, 2010 02:13 PM

No, not prudes, just tired of trying to find clothes that don't make their little girl look like a prostitot. And then explaining to their seven year old girl why she can't dress like a cheap floozy and to their son why you don't say those kind of words, and to their 14 year old son why you don't ever treat a girl like that.

Posted by: LittleRed1 at September 28, 2010 02:16 PM

I must be getting old (is 57 old?). When I look at the video all I see is a cute kid having some fun singing to a puppet. I smiled the whole time. On the maturity scale, my wife tells me I am about 10 years old, so I guess that must be the age appropriate demographic.

Posted by: Ron Weiss at September 28, 2010 02:18 PM

I liked it very much, too. In fact, it was that comment that persuaded me to write about this at all. When I read it a day or two ago, I almost made it quote of the day :p I also think Rob made a good point:

I'm pretty sure that outfit wouldn't pass muster at my daughter's elementary school

[putting my Devil's advocate cape] But whyever not? After all breasts are perfectly normal and natural. Kids see them everywhere, so it's not as though you can shield them [the children from the breasts, not the breasts from the children] even if you wanted to. Yada, yada, yada.

I do and say a lot of things around adults that I would never do or say around children. I watch movies that I would never let my grandkids watch. That's because I'm an adult, with an adult's experience and perspective, and children are still learning and growing.

Years ago Mrs. P got very upset with me for posting a humorous Star Wars photo that contained a swear word. I understood why it bothered and upset her, though I disagreed about whether VC is a children's site or not.

But most importantly, I didn't think she was a prude simply because she didn't want her children exposed to such photos.

Though I would almost certainly not have complained about the Perry skit, if it had been aired while my boys were watching I would have seriously reconsidered whether SS was age appropriate fare since their idea of age appropriate and mine clearly diverged. And I don't think it's bad for parents to voice their concerns over content like that.

I'm still disturbed over the stripper pole thing on Nickelodeon. Wrong message, and if that makes me a prude, so be it.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 02:21 PM

Or maybe it's that people aren't normally sexually aroused by animal body parts the way they are by... oh, I don't know... women's breasts?

Do. Not. Google. Furries.

Posted by: BillT at September 28, 2010 02:31 PM

Eeeew - Some questions are better left unanswered, UnkaBill.

Posted by: Boquisucio at September 28, 2010 02:35 PM

Ron:

I suspect that part of the parental objection had to do with Perry's well known penchant for sexual double entendre :p

http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/77190/katy-perry-not-singing-about-fish

As a parent of young boys, I worried far less about nudity or sexual overtones than about violence or cruelty in media. I never minded brief nudity unless there was something else going on that I didn't think my sons needed to see (usually the deliberate combination of sex with violence, or degradation of women). I tried to raise my sons to respect and like women and to think of sex as a positive thing, but that's not the way either topic is portrayed in the media much of the time.

Consequently, I did limit what my children were exposed to until they were old enough to apply a bit of mature perspective to what they read and saw.

Oddly enough, I remember being a child very well. Part of what I remember is how much what I saw and read affected my youthful opinions. Let's just say most of it wasn't helpful. It took a fair amount of experience to dispel some of the nonsense I absorbed as a child during the 60s and early 70s.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 02:36 PM

Oddly enough, I remember being a child very well.

Not really odd, considering it was only a few years ago...

Posted by: BillT at September 28, 2010 02:41 PM

I thought this was a good piece for SS, since it explores the way that boys and girls can sometimes hurt each others' feelings by not realizing that they are 'playing different games.' That's a worthwhile lesson.

In order to teach that lesson, they decided to have her want to 'play dress up,' while he was going to play tag. OK; that's reasonable.

Furthermore, in terms of 'dress up,' the outfit can't be just any kind of dress-up. The whole point of the segment is the different expectations and understandings of girls and boys. So, you can't have her dressing as, say, a nurse (because we want our daughters to know they can grow up to be doctors! Or police officers! Or firefighters!). She really has to be dressed up as a girl.

And it has to be an over-the-top girlish outfit, or she's not 'playing dress up' -- she's just dressing.

So I completely understand how they got to this outfit from the structure of the piece they wanted to do. The piece they wanted to do is a good idea, which teaches an important lesson I'm glad to see taught.

All we have here by way of controversy is a question about whether or not this outfit is 'over the top girlish' or 'sexy.' (Really, my idea of sexy does not encompass enormous ribbons in one's hair; but we'll leave that. Intuitions differ).

I wouldn't have a problem showing this to my son. He's seen girls in prom dresses before, and really that's what this outfit most reminds me of: modern prom dresses.

Posted by: Grim at September 28, 2010 02:44 PM

Not really odd, considering it was only a few years ago...

No fair bringing up my mental age, Bill!

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 02:57 PM

In order to teach that lesson, they decided to have her want to 'play dress up,'...you can't have her dressing as, say, a nurse (because we want our daughters to know they can grow up to be doctors! Or police officers! Or firefighters!). She really has to be dressed up as a girl.

Is that how little girls dress in your neighborhood, Grim?

Interestingly, I've been going over old photos my parents took of me playing dress up as a child. Can't say I saw any of me or my friends wearing a low cut bustier. Clearly, I need to get out more :)

Seriously, I would expect more parents of daughters to object to her outfit than parents of sons.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 03:04 PM

Before seeing this video I had never heard of Katy Perry, so I was sort of baggage free. I suppose that's why all I saw was a cute kid singing a song. When my oldest kids were young back in the early 80s, I refused to get cable lest they watch Madonna on MTV. That WAS inappropriate for little ones (Camille Paglia has that pegged). By contrast Miss Perry is wearing a dress that would be conservative on an Olympic skater -- just not all that sexy -- and the lyrics were kiddie fare.

Posted by: Ron Weiss at September 28, 2010 03:06 PM

I don't have strong feelings about it either way, really. As I said earlier, it's not something I would have complained about but it's definitely something I would have noticed as a parent.

Speaking as someone who was once a little girl, I can also definitely say that MiniCass would have looked at Ms. Perry (who is a stunner, by the way) thought to myself, "Wow, she's so pretty", and wanted to be like her in every way.

That is what little girls do - even very little ones. They hero worship.

As LittleRed pointed out, young girls are bombarded with sexual imagery and sexual messages these days. It's hard to find modest clothes for even tiny girls. So I totally get why parents would have a problem with both the fact of Perry appearing on Sesame Street in the first place and with her choice of attire.

As another commenter pointed out, you won't ever see an outfit like that in elementary school. It's possible that there's a reason for that besides the obvious one about there being no good reason to sexualize prepubescent girls :p

The single biggest running battle I had with my parents as a teen was over the issue of modest attire. I grew up in the age of halter and tube tops and no bras, usually accompanied by cutoffs so short so tight as to leave little to the imagination.

I don't blame parents for trying to teach little girls to dress in an age appropriate manner. I certainly don't think they're prudes for doing so.

That was the point of this post. There's a phrase my spouse uses: situational awareness. I think that's one of those notions that has been overcome by events.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 04:00 PM

Her outfit was not appropriate for grade school.

Sesame Street's target audience isn't going to grade school!

I, too, thought it a cute bit. Someone with an uncorrupted four-year-old, whose parents have not been exposed to the bit or the uproar, please report on the kid's reaction upon watching.

Posted by: htom at September 28, 2010 04:37 PM

Someone with an uncorrupted four-year-old, whose parents have not been exposed to the bit or the uproar, please report on the kid's reaction upon watching.

Ok, this is my last comment on this topic. What would you expect a 4 year old's reaction to be?

The implication here seems to be that if a child doesn't show visible trauma of some kind, there's no valid reason for parents to be concerned. By that rule my parents shouldn't have been concerned about a whole lot of things that made me want to (and do) things they very much did not want me to do.

The question I asked was, "are parents who thought this video was inappropriate for pre-schoolers prudes"? From what I can tell, the majority of you think the answer to that question is, "yes".

I think that's a bit harsh, but it's probably not surprising for me to be out of step with popular culture.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 04:54 PM

I personally didn't have a problem with the dress. Could it have used an extra inch or two of fabric up top? Sure, but it did look like a 'dress-up' outfit and, frankly, the Disney princesses are sometimes drawn with skimpier outfits.

The problem I have with Katy Perry on SS is the fact that her songs are not kid appropriate. That is not her target audience, so why be on the show? Why expose children that young to a pop singer that sings about lesbian experiences and teenage sex?

Posted by: Schroedinger's Cat at September 28, 2010 05:35 PM

Who's Katy Perry? And how come she's dressed up like Miss Piggy?

Posted by: spd rdr at September 28, 2010 05:42 PM

Sorry, Cass, didn't mean to offend. I am honestly curious about such a tyke's reaction, and wonder if SS has an on-going research project to test such things before they air. (And why was this floated out? Some of the staff disapproving?)

Posted by: htom at September 28, 2010 06:37 PM

Sesame Street is still around?

Why not cross it over with SNL and have whatshername get reviled by the church lady?

I loathed SS when I first saw an episode at the tender age of 11. Captain Kangaroo was better.

I find her bosoms less threatening than when Maria and Carlos got married and had a baby and she explained how that happened. I was babysitting, and one of the kids was sick. Now I know why.

All snark aside, the children I babysat loved it and insisted on me watching with them. I learned how to do a killer Elmo impression. Hey, you need skills with your own children. It has come in very handy when I needed them to do something.

Overall, it isn't a bad show, but well, I think had they put her in something less plunging, no big deal. But, uh, why did they do it in the first place, and not reshoot the segment?

Posted by: Cricket at September 28, 2010 07:08 PM

I find her bosoms less threatening than when Maria and Carlos got married and had a baby and she explained how that happened.

*snort*

That's why I stopped letting my kids watch it. They actually got far more information from me, but I got really tired of the subtle attempts to brainwash my kids. That's *my* job :p

Tom, you didn't offend at all. I apologize if I sounded testy. I didn't mean to - I was trying to finish the comment in a hurry. I do think a lot of the objections were probably more of a package deal - people feel that this is one of those attempts to push an agenda on their kids and they don't appreciate that. They know not to let their kids watch MTV or HBO but they felt like SS was safe.

And mr rdr.... pppphhhhttttthhhhhh!!! :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 07:14 PM

I think there's a rule somewhere that such a gracious apology must be accepted with a bow.

Accepted, ma'am, forgiven, and forgotten. :deep bow:

Now, about SS's (ominous initials) possible research into the child psyche ....

Posted by: htom at September 28, 2010 08:18 PM

Is that how little girls dress in your neighborhood, Grim?

By happenstance, there are no little girls in my neighborhood (if, indeed, 'neighborhood' is the right word for it).

However, I wasn't talking about what girls would normally wear. I was talking about what girls wear when they play dress up -- especially, when they dress up as 'something girly.' Costumes are always sort of exaggerated, aren't they?

Consider this one, for example: I think this is the kind of thing they were trying to mimic.

Maybe the point is not about the costume itself, though, and about the effect of such a costume when worn by a young woman of a certain physical beauty? SNL had a funny take on this situation, I thought. ("Today's show is brought to you by the number 38, and the letters double-D.")

Posted by: Grim at September 28, 2010 08:32 PM

htom, that is somethat that has amused my reverse side away extremely (nod to TOB and the Blog Princess) for years. Subliminal programming.

Missy Cass, I have brainwashed my children too.
Even now, I am letting them watch 'Napoleon Dynamite' just so I can have peace and quiet.

Vote for Pedro!

Posted by: Cricket at September 28, 2010 08:32 PM

Grim, you're reaching.

Either that, or you know nothing about Katy Perry (which I don't doubt, by the way) :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 28, 2010 08:51 PM

Well, I know -- because ML mentioned it the other day -- that she sang a racy song about kissing girls. I haven't heard it, though.

This is what comes of having no television at the house since 2006. I only see these things when they turn up as clips on Hot Air. :)

Posted by: Grim at September 28, 2010 09:10 PM

Well, most children, who were breastfed, upon seeing the buxom Ms. Perry would be thinking 'LUNCH!'

Or simply not thinking at all, and were being entertained.

Posted by: Cricket at September 28, 2010 09:35 PM

I question the selection of Ms. Perry because, as mentioned above, the Sesame Street set isn't her target audience. If her dress had about 2 more inches of solid fabric on the top of the bodice, I'd not have such a problem with it. If I had a little girl, I might let her wear that fairy costume (if it didn't cost so much), but I would NEVER let her wear something like the dress Ms. Perry wore on SS, showing so much skin. It's all about the appropriateness. That "situational awareness" Cass mentioned. That dress, in a different setting, would be perfectly acceptable. It's not acceptable for Sesame Street. Period.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 28, 2010 10:25 PM

Probably so, Cricket.

Although, to answer the broader question, I don't think 'prudery' is involved in being a little stunned -- for those who were. I wasn't, but as I said, intuitions differ.

Even in the SNL skit, which (of course!) eventually proclaims the importance of not apologizing for your body, begins with the two older ladies repeating at the sight of her: "Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah!"

Posted by: Grim at September 28, 2010 10:27 PM

Do you really think SNL would treat it any differently? Their bread and butter is sticking a finger in the eye of propriety and pushing the limits beyond that of good taste.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 28, 2010 10:50 PM

That's not a low cut top!

That's a SEE-THROUGH top, on a corset!

...

Not much better, precision counts. ^.^

Posted by: Foxfier at September 28, 2010 11:55 PM

Their bread and butter is sticking a finger in the eye of propriety and pushing the limits beyond that of good taste.

And usually losing any humor in the process.

SNL hasn't been *funny* since John Belushi took a powder.

*koff*

Figuratively and literally.

Posted by: BillT at September 29, 2010 03:49 AM

That's a SEE-THROUGH top, on a corset!

I blame Foxfier for my sudden eyestrain onset...

Posted by: BillT at September 29, 2010 03:51 AM

Oh...now, I do think the Church Lady was pretty good, and Mr. Subliminal, as well as Eddie Murphy.
Dan Ackyroyd and Jane Curtin getting into it on Weekend Update was good, as was Dennis Miller.
Chevy Chase...blecchh.

I think though, that this is part of a larger trend to see what is tolerable, and to further ridicule parents when they take a stand. How could a parent possibly know better than Sesame Street, which has been 'educating' children for nearly 40 years?

Of course, we have declining test scores, and public education is at its worst level in years, but that is because standards were too high...and don't get me started. I am arthitic, and haven't had my pain meds.


Posted by: Cricket at September 29, 2010 05:51 AM

As the mother of a daughter not *too* long removed from the SS target audience, that dress is not, not, a *grown up* version of a dress-up costume. This, this, this, and this are what little girls wear when they play dress up.
I mostly agree with you wrt what the skit was evidently supposed to be about, Grim. In this case, though, they completely missed the boat on the costume. You'd think after -- what was it, 40 yrs of "educating kids" -- the producers would have learned sumpin' by now.

Posted by: DL Sly at September 29, 2010 07:36 AM

Complete and total over reaction. Anybody ever watch Olympic Ice Skating?

Sheesh.

Posted by: Eric Blair at September 29, 2010 09:29 AM

Eric, it isn't overreacting to point out that the boundaries of good taste have been crossed, in a children's show.

Nope. Why? Because. Peta had a hissy fit over someone wearing fur, and no one said they were overreacting.

Posted by: Cricket at September 29, 2010 10:15 AM

Competitive figure skating isn't targeted at the pre-school set, there, Eric. As I said, it's all about the appropriateness for the audience. I am NOT overreacting about this.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at September 29, 2010 10:16 AM

Two more and then I am history:

'Inflammatory Mammaries'

Song: "Thanks for the Mammaries."

There. I got that off my chest.

Posted by: Bad, mean Cricket at September 29, 2010 10:17 AM

Because. Peta had a hissy fit over someone wearing fur, and no one said they were overreacting.

In fairness, I think a lot of us may have mocked PETA's response to that. :)

Posted by: Grim at September 29, 2010 12:53 PM

"Touch me
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the mamm'ry
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is

Look
A new day has begun"

Fixed that for ya, Mistah Webber.

Posted by: BillT at September 29, 2010 01:01 PM


Love how PETA gets upset about wearing fur....

But not about wearing meat?? (Lady Gaga & all)

Posted by: tomg51 at September 29, 2010 01:37 PM

I did not notice the first time I looked.

When it was pointed out to me I noticed, and I'm not really appreciative of this going to a preschool audience (my son and youngest is 7, so we're past that stage now), but since none of my kids liked Sesame Street anyway I don't have much of a dog in the fight.

The thing is, a good parent can (and should) change the channel. We haven't watched Nickelodeon in about four years - regardless of the fact that SpongeBob was one of my kids' favorites - because of their sponsoring of programs featuring World Can't Wait and showing "wonderful" images of kids in GTMO torture gear doing the Baby Killer dance (as pointed out by Armywifetoddlermom).

Do I get my unmentionables in a bunch when I see things I perceive to be a slap at a value I hold dear? Yes. Do I think our society is headed down the road to hell with its (arguably) good intentions? Yes.

But I also think a free society has to confront these issues. And to remain a free society, we have to deal with things that we don't agree with at times.

Katie Perry's boobage on Sesame Street is one of those things, I think. Turn the channel. Inform other parents. And let the Sesame Street folks know the problem. From there, it is their choice to take the next step and either cement their brand name as a reliable children's programmer, or as yet another hijacked institution that has decided to ram their idea of what should be down the throats of our kids.

And if they have jumped that shark, then don't watch. It's easy.

So really, I don't get the hoopla over this. I just don't.

Posted by: airforcewife at September 29, 2010 01:47 PM

Katy Perry is a boob?

*thud*

"Touch me
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with my mamm'ry
And its days in the sun
If you touch it
You'll understand what happiness is.."

Fixed it again.

Posted by: anonymous at September 29, 2010 02:35 PM

"I hear ya. Have you seen the SS episode where Elmo whips out his AK47 and blasts the living sh** out of The Muppitry? And yet this administration does nothing :p"

Well, that's obviously Bush's fault. Duh.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at September 29, 2010 04:30 PM

100% honest here, when I first saw this over at Grim's place, I really had no idea why this would be banned. I guessed that her outfit was the problematic piece, but I wasn't sure.

Honestly, I didn't see her outfit as an issue. Back when I watched Sesame Street, Lynda Carter was running around in less than than in another program I watched at the time (Wonder Woman). And wore it MUCH better as I recall. My opinions are not everyone else's, of course, but that's just my thought on the matter. Tempest in a teapot.

Posted by: MikeD at September 30, 2010 09:36 AM

I guessed that her outfit was the problematic piece, but I wasn't sure.

Like I said before, I would guess the objection was more of a package deal (a combination of her attire and her overall NSFW image).

I don't get the comparison to Lynda Carter, nor to Olympic skaters. Lynda Carter portrayed a wholesome American superhero not unlike Superman. Olympic skating (besides NOT being a show geared to the preschool set) has a likewise non-sexual image.

Again, as I said before, I'm not sure I would have complained about this but on the other hand it seems downright bizarre to me to call parents who thought Ms. Perry wasn't an appropriate guest for a preschool show "prudes".

If you buy the "kids could see this on show X, which is not a show for little kids" then it would seem that parents would be "overreacting" to object to any adult fare on Sesame Street. That's not a logical argument unless one believes that there's no difference between small children and adults.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 1, 2010 10:36 AM

To me, it really comes down to the "Would I let my pre-schooler dress that way?"... and the answer is NO. Nor would I be very happy if my child's pre-school teacher dressed that way.

She wore an Elmo shirt and plaid skirt on SNL last weekend that showed less skin than she did on SS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qP81EElmWY

Posted by: Annabelle at October 1, 2010 11:59 AM

I don't get the comparison to Lynda Carter, nor to Olympic skaters. Lynda Carter portrayed a wholesome American superhero not unlike Superman. Olympic skating (besides NOT being a show geared to the preschool set) has a likewise non-sexual image.

I think you might be confusing the messenger with the message. Skaters are not dressing for a youth audience, so I accept that the comparison there is invalid. However the Wonder Woman tv show WAS aimed (at least partially) at a youth market. And while what she was portraying (the superhero Wonder Woman) might have taken it out of a sexual realm in your eyes. I can definitely say it did/does not from mine. Of course as a child I didn't really understand "sexuality" and I think my first realization of "women are really neat" was Princess Leia, but I certainly understood that Wonder Woman's outfit (as worn by Lynda Carter at least) was more interesting than what most women on tv (that I got to see at least) wore. Thus for you, the message (Wonder Woman as wholesome hero) overwhelmed the messenger (Lynda Carter in what amounts to a one piece bathing suit). Obviously my mileage varied.

Mind you, I don't even think what Lynda Carter wore was particularly scandalous. A bathing suit is a bathing suit (even if it's got star spangled britches). But I do accept that as a role model Ms. Perry is the more objectionable. I just don't see her clothing as an issue.

Also, please do not believe I am accusing anyone objecting to her appearance as a "prude". I am merely stating that In My Opinion (worthless as any other) her clothing was not an issue for me.

Posted by: MikeD at October 1, 2010 01:39 PM

I don't get the comparison to Lynda Carter, nor to Olympic skaters. Lynda Carter portrayed a wholesome American superhero...

Perhaps you missed some of the episodes?

Posted by: Grim at October 1, 2010 03:11 PM

...while what she was portraying (the superhero Wonder Woman) might have taken it out of a sexual realm in your eyes. I can definitely say it did/does not from mine. Of course as a child I didn't really understand "sexuality" and I think my first realization of "women are really neat" was Princess Leia, but I certainly understood that Wonder Woman's outfit (as worn by Lynda Carter at least) was more interesting than what most women on tv (that I got to see at least) wore.

I guess I see this very differently from a lot of folks:

1. I don't think having viewers of a kids' program question whether content is appropriate for their children is a big deal. In a world where parents have to actively shield their kids from adult fare (instead of adults opting in) I think parents have every right to expect kids' shows to be free of such influences. Viewers ought to feel free to question away and the producers of SS ought to feel free to make whatever decision they decide best reflects their goals for the show.

2. The suggestion that it's an "overreaction" or a big fuss seems strange to me (it also seems like the kind of thing a lot of people like to say about things they don't agree with :p). What upset you or I is never a "fuss". What upsets the Other Guy is, of course, worthy of every last ounce of derision we can muster.

3. I don't think you can totally separate the messenger from the message - that context thing again.

That sex is used to sell everything from Barbie dolls to social agendas -- even where kids are concerned -- is no surprise. I don't like it but I'm not going to change that anytime soon.

That said, I'm not going to be nearly as upset as a parent if sex is being used to sell something age appropriate (superheroes like WonderWoman or heroines like Princess Leia). I'm not going to be so happy when it's used to make promiscuity or teen sex attractive to preschoolers.

No one, looking at Ms. Perry's body of work (pun fully intended) can be in serious doubt that this is precisely what she's selling, and when you have to "clean up" the lyrics of a song ("You PMS like a bitch???") before you can put it on a kids' program, I think it's pretty obvious that it's not kiddy fare.

The question then becomes, in what insane world is this "message" (or the messenger) appropriate for pre-schoolers?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 1, 2010 03:22 PM

Grim:

What was Ms. Carter doing in that photo that wasn't wholesome?

Posted by: Cassandra at October 1, 2010 03:24 PM

She'd forgotten the egg salad, for one...

Posted by: BillT at October 1, 2010 03:51 PM

*rolling eyes* :)

Seriously, my prior comment originally contained something about the fact that children do pick up on sexual content - the "wiring" is definitely there, if the experience and understanding are not yet present.

And I can testify that both boys and girls pick up on this stuff from a very early age.

Here's something that will make you laugh (or cringe - not sure which). The earliest overtly sexual thoughts I can remember having as a girl were occasioned by the sight of Captain James T. Kirk's frequently bared, glistening chest and tight trousers :p

I can't help rolling my eyes when I hear guys saying that kids are "too young" to notice this stuff. As Mike's comment illustrates, they're not.

Therefore, the question of what is being sold with such a powerful visual aid becomes pretty darned important. What are we linking sex to, in a child's mind?

I see a lot of the men being dismissive about this, but to a parent it's an important consideration (and in this case, despite all the focus on boys) it's important to parents of girls. The amusing thing is that it's also not uncommon to hear guys go on and on about how they're going to protect their daughters from the outside world.

They would do better to think about protecting their daughters from themselves. Oddly, though, that rarely seems to occur to them.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 1, 2010 04:00 PM

Well, I'm certainly willing to trade Ms. Perry away if we can get Wonder Woman In Chains in return. That's a heck of a deal, really. :)

You know, that was my little sister's favorite show.

Posted by: Grim at October 1, 2010 04:10 PM

Ice skating not sexual? Someone missed the 1984 Olympics where Torvill and Dean went far beyond sensual and melted the ice on their way to a perfect score in artistic presentation, ten 6.0's.

Posted by: htom at October 1, 2010 05:20 PM

I guess I'm weird, but I wouldn't call that sexual, Tom, any more than I'd call the folk dance scene in the G rated Sound of Music "sexual".

I am not going to argue this anymore. It's not hard to find things that remind one of sex in almost anything, even things that are G rated. The point I was trying to make before (and obviously failed miserably) is that sex is all around us.

Figure skating, last time I checked, isn't about convincing teens that they should want to have sex with as many people as possible. Nor was Wonder Woman.

Nor was Star Trek.

I'm trying to make a point that seems to be incomprehensible, which means that I need to stop.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 1, 2010 05:37 PM

I dislike the whole idea of peer pressure via the media. The incessant whining for stuff. My daughter is the original tomboy, but even she, bless her, doesn't like anything spray-painted on, and is sharp enough to see that when girls her age dress a certain way, they are treated differently. She saw the pic of Ms Perry, and just about became unglued because 'Sesame Street is a KID'S show, Mom, not Slutty Street!' Okay, when she said that I ended up cleaning the monitor.

She doesn't like that kind of attention from boys, so she dresses differently. She thinks Ms. Perry is sending the wrong message to little kids, and thinks the producers should have behaved more responsibly.

Posted by: Cricket at October 1, 2010 06:18 PM

I think, Cricket, that this is one of those moral sentiment things.

We saw the same thing with the controversy over allowing the press to photograph coffins at Dover. Those who didn't share the moral sentiment about not wanting one's private grief used for partisan or profit purposes ridiculed the reactions of military families because it didn't bother them.

Those who didn't understand the outrage over the Ground Zero mosque ridiculed the reactions of those who did.

People who don't understand how under siege a lot of parents feel these days will never understand why those parents might not appreciate having a children's show host a skit with a cleaned up version of a song many radio stations still censor because they won't play the lyrics straight up to adults and a performer whose entire shtick is NSFW (albeit presumably safe for the preschool set).

To me, it's obvious what the difference is between Ms. Perry and Wonder Woman. It's in what they stand for. Likewise, Olympic skating.

I see nothing wrong with consumers (or taxpayers, for that matter) voicing their concerns about a product or the way their tax dollars are being spent. It's fine to disagree with their point of view, but I don't get the name calling.

But that's just me.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 1, 2010 10:05 PM

In fairness, I don't listen to the radio any more than I watch TV -- so I don't know what the original sounds like, or what its lyrics are. All I know about is what I saw in the clip of the SS episode.

One thing I wrote at the Hall -- in response to ML's comments -- was that maybe we need to do a better job of providing a space for people to be 'adult' here and kid-friendly there. I don't know the girl, or what her shtick (as you say) might be; but I didn't find her performance sexualized, or even sexy. I just thought it was a good point about boys and girls.

So if the context is the problem, I admit that I lack the context. But maybe one thing we don't do very well is demarcating a space for us to be adults, without giving up that small innocence we retain even into adulthood.

But it is important that we don't deny that small space of innocence even to those who have traveled far on other roads: "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." So it is important, and perhaps to them most of all, that there remains a space for turning.

Posted by: Grim at October 1, 2010 10:30 PM

I like the fact that I can still be shocked. But I don't want to be desensitized to the point of ignorance. I haven't seen SS for a long time, and could not believe it simply because I am not familiar with children's programming any more.

considering how we expect our children to grow up fast, I guess I am a tad more old-fashioned in that regard.

Posted by: Cricket at October 1, 2010 11:03 PM

I am afraid I was warped forever by seeing Diana Rigg in a black cat suit on The Avengers when I was a little kid. Now that she's Dame Diana and I see what she looks like now, I am reminded of how old _I_ am, and I shudder. Oh, to be 10 again!

Posted by: Justthisguy at October 2, 2010 05:51 AM

I like the fact that I can still be shocked.

Nothing the media does shocks me anymore.

Which is not to say that, when they do something that is just flat-out wrong, and I can have some effect on the target, that I won't go feral on it...

Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2010 06:57 AM

...one thing we don't do very well is demarcating a space for us to be adults, without giving up that small innocence we retain even into adulthood.

Ah, but Grim - it's perfectly acceptable to defend spaces for adults. Defending spaces for children, on the other hand, inconveniences adults intolerably. The whole thing would seem to be a one way street.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 2, 2010 10:14 AM

*Not* jumping on that one.

Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2010 10:21 AM

Would it have been less of a sexual whatever, Grim, if Wonder Woman had been chained in her cell wearing an outfit like would have been seen on Little House on the Prairie?

Wonder Woman is still showing less cleavage in her "bathing suit" than Ms. Perry does in her dress. And, the Wonder Woman outfit is probably downright prudish by today's fashion standards.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 2, 2010 10:22 AM

The mutual ground I have been able to meet my children on, as they mature, was literature. The good stuff that defines morals, sets a standard, and then the characters live up to it, because there is a Greater Reason than self.

However, their minds and hearts have to be prepared to receive and accept such things.

Yesterday, the Engineer and I were in Barnes & Noble (a dangerous place for me and my credit card). They had a table of classics; buy 2 and get one free. One of the selections was my favorite 'Pride and Prejudice.' What I read in the introduction was that readers loved it because it was a world where 'sexual restraint, good manners and boundaries existed.' Why do we have to escape to literature and the Bible? Because we don't have restraints here. I do not apologize for being a prude or for having a standard.

The Wonder Woman outfit isn't the high cut like the maillot swimsuits...which are downright modest compared to a thong.

Posted by: Cricket at October 2, 2010 12:01 PM

One of the selections was my favorite 'Pride and Prejudice.'

Is the screenplay for "Jane Austen's Fight Club" out yet?

Posted by: BillT at October 2, 2010 01:03 PM

Would it have been less of a sexual whatever, Grim, if Wonder Woman had been chained in her cell wearing an outfit like would have been seen on Little House on the Prairie?

Intuitions differ, madam. :)

Posted by: Grim at October 2, 2010 05:08 PM

@ BillT: You are truly a man for our times. I saw the clip. It has potential. I see Clint Eastwood in the Burgess Meredith role of coach and mentor. I haven't cast the rest of the film yet.

That could be amusing.

Posted by: Cricket at October 2, 2010 10:50 PM

Weena Mercator would be perfect as The Hopping Woman...

Posted by: BillT at October 3, 2010 08:14 AM

Post a comment

To reduce comment spam, comments on older posts are put into moderation 5 days after the last activity. Comments with more than one link also go into moderation. If you don't see your comment after posting it, try refreshing the screen. If you still don't see it, your comment is probably in the moderation queue.




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)