August 9, 2008

Kim Kardashian Hosts the Teen Choice Awards. Come again?


When Kim Kardashian was scheduled to host the “red carpet” at the Teen Choice Awards on the Fox Network, mothers (and fathers) around the U.S. didn’t so much as bat a heavily lined eyelash. Neither the neoconservatives at Fox news nor the left-wing liberals everywhere else made any bones about the bootylicious pseudo celebrity ushering tween sensations like Miley Cyrus across the red carpet for the benefit of thousands of ogling young viewers at home.

Now I identify as a pretty liberal kind of gal. I am for gay marriage, for sex-Ed and for Obama, I’m the first to admit that I am no saint. At one point in my young life I did my fair share of what kids do when they are considered to be at that age of “experimentation,” and I understand that as long as there are kids, rock n’ roll, sex and drugs, there will always be some kid, somewhere, trying to grow up too fast.  But there is something about Kim Kardashian hosting a teen show that rubs me the wrong way. (Loosely alluded to pun intended.) First of all, everyone knows that “teens” do not worship pop sensations like Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers. More often than not, once “teens” make it past their first year in High School, they are listening to the likes of Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Snoop Dog, and Eminem. Sure there are exceptions. I’m certain that more than a few present day High School kids still listen to their Miley CD’s (in private) the same way that generations before them snuck tracks of “Oops I did it again,” and The Backstreet boys onto their walkman mixes.

But closet pop fans are not filling up the seats at the Teen Choice awards.

Tweenagers are. These prepubescent, star struck tweens line up to these awards shows hours in advance and tune in at home just to get a glimpse of a heavily glossed, 15-year-old, Miley Cyrus accepting her award and thanking, “the most important man in her life, Jesus.”


But Kim Kardashian?! Now, I’m sure she’s a very lovely girl and all…but um…aside from having Bruce Jenner as a step-dad, Kim Kardashian has only one other claim to fame. Two words: Sex Tape. The Sex Tape that was “accidentally” leaked to the public for all to see in much the same way that her best friend Paris Hilton’s sex tape “accidentally” became fodder for internet porn trollers across the globe a few years prior. Look, I’m not saying that because the girl had sex (more or less in public) that she should be scarlet lettered and cast away like some sort of social pariah. But I am saying, that aside from her sex tape, and her tediously boring reality show (which came about, we presume, because of her sex-tape) what does this girl have that tween kids are interested in? Let’s make a list:

A. Huge (perhaps surgically enhanced) breasts.
B. Extremely large Barnum & Baily like buttocks.
C. A Sex Tape that was deliberately “leaked” to the public.
D. An innocuous reality show on the “E” channel during whose episodes she flaunts A and B.
E. A Playboy Centerfold earned as a direct result of A., B., C., and D.

Which brings me to the only issue I have with Kim Kardashian hosting the Teen Choice Awards. I recently watched VHI’s documentary on the Evolution of Sex. One of the commentators made a statement that I wish I could argue with. He said, plainly, “Most women base their self worth on how men rate them on the attractiveness scale.”

I wanted to argue. I wanted to stamp my feet and wring my hands and yell, “that’s such BS! That’s so not true!!” But I could not. (You too want to prove this statement wrong. In towns like Boulder we like to think we are above all that. Maybe we are. Just a little. Then again, maybe not. Not at all.)

Just a few weeks ago, I watched my dear friend’s eight year old daughter gather flowers from the yard and pile them into a wicker basket. She looked like something out of “Little House on The Prairie.”
So innocent.

I wonder how much different she would be if her mother owned a television and did not enroll her into a Waldorf school. If she were not shielded from the ubiquitous images of women as sex symbols would one of her greatest goals eventually be to have her classmates find her, “hot?”  Will she grow up hoping that someday, some guy will rate her as, “a ten.”  In a few years time will she too find that her breasts need enhancement and that her other “flaws” must be hidden from sight? Is she too destined to starve and primp and gloss and pimp herself out? Or will her other female role models be enough to steal the limelight from the Kim Kardashians of her world? I’d like to think that her adult guardians are cool enough to keep her from such a dismal and oppressive journey through young adulthood. (One in which she rarely peers outside the parameters of wanting to be thin, rich and famous.) I’m just not so sure about all of the other kids, tweens and teens out there. Who is looking out for them? Certainly not the Fox network. Certainly (by the looks of the scantily clad characters on High School Musical) not Disney. And more often than not, certainly not their parents who are at work all of the time to make ends meet, or who see nothing wrong with that Kim Kardashian girl glimmering and shimmering on T.V. to the delight of their captivated tweenager.

Maybe I’m superimposing innocence on tweens and teens that just is never going to stick. Eventually, no matter how little T.V. was watched, no matter how many billboards and magazines and movies and strip malls and strip clubs they are shielded from- at some point in their young lives, kids get the memo: Aspire to be beautiful.

And beauty to a tweenager—for this sad moment in time—looks like Kim Kardashian.

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