Monday, December 9, 2013

Response to Rashida Jones's Glamour Essay

Had to write this after reading Rashida Jones’s Glamour Essay on the “Pornification of Entertainment.” I’m not writing because I disagree with her, but because I agree with and support her opinion as I’ve felt the same way for a while. It seems like everywhere you look in music, advertising and television you are bombarded with overt, gratuitous, and at times inappropriate sexual imagery. Mistake me not, I have no problems with sex and am by no means a prude. I’m fine with a hot love scene and nudity if it works in the plot and is done well. It’s when it’s a constant/unnecessary thing that it becomes annoying and disgusting. For me the biggest issue I have with this preoccupation with sex is not only how it’s being used more and more to objectify women, but that some women in the entertainment industry are actively objectifying themselves. Take for example advertising. Paris Hilton did that commercial for the fast food place where she ate a cheeseburger whilst writhing on the hood of a car in a revealing bathing suit. Why? Because naturally that’s how advertisers think a person should eat a cheeseburger in order to sell it (insert eye roll here). Never mind telling us if the burger is in fact any good. If the commercial featured people actually talking about how good the food and service is, I would be more likely to try it. Instead they’re making a commercial that is made to appeal and attract only a specific part of the population. Oh and speaking of Paris Hilton, here’s a person who mostly got her fame because of sex which helped to bring about the whole stupid, demoralizing fad of woman filming themselves having sex in order to become famous. So yes we can all thank Paris Hilton for furthering a trend that’s lunched the likes of Kim Kardashian and Farrah Abraham into careers of……well nothing of substance anyway. With television, my main complaint are these reality shows that either feature a lot of sexuality or fighting amongst women or both and many of these shows can be easily viewed by young women. One that comes to mind is Teen Mom which instead of showing these cautionary tales of young girls becoming sexually active and not being ready for the consequences, teens look at it as a way to become famous as they get to be on TV, in magazines and on talk shows. Additionally, they see famous teens such as Bristol Palin & Jamie-Lynn Spears getting pregnant and receiving tons of attention and money for book deals and so forth and all they had to do was have sex to make it happen. As for music, much of the subject matter in these songs deals with partying, drug use and sex. I know that there are other things to sing about such as love, loss, heroism, family, hard work, dreams, and fears. Unfortunately, those songs don’t seem to get nearly enough attention even though they are very good. Songs are a way to tell stories, but now it’s skewed into what I think is over sharing of information about the singer’s life. Take Rihanna for example. Based on her music videos, concerts and performance outfits, I’ve come away with a strong impression that she’s into rough sex and bondage play. If that’s what she’s into, then good for her, but I don’t need to know about it. However, by making it part of her entertainment package, she’s made sure everyone in the world knows it and can’t avoid knowing it unless you sever yourself from all forms of media and information sharing. Another person that comes to mind is Miley Cyrus. One can’t avoid seeing her twerking her butt off, wearing outfits that leave little to the imagination and sticking out her tongue. If she’s not a prime example of someone objectifying herself, then I don’t know who is. Now I admit that she has some good songs. Wrecking Ball actually is quite meaningful and has real emotion behind it. Unfortunately, that is lost in the distracting actions of Miley straddling an actual wrecking ball while naked and licking the chain. I think it actually cheapens the song. Oh and let’s not forget the VMA performance where she rubbed up Robin Thicke (don’t get me started on him), wore 2 pieces of flesh-colored fabric, (not going to call that an outfit) and used a foam finger in a way it should never be used. Now of course, there are people who, in an effort to be diplomatic, say that Miley’s behavior is to show she’s grownup and maturing. I’m sorry, but in no way do I connect her behavior as being related to maturity. And don’t forget how she reacts when people call her out on her inappropriate behavior or try to offer advice. They are called “haters’ or “crazy” (Sinead O'Connor didn’t deserve that) for their trouble. In what way can this be considered as her maturing? For me, I have always thought that certain words like responsibility, selflessness, and respect go hand-in-hand with maturity. When I think of someone maturing, I think of them doing things to better themselves and contribute to the world around them. For example, maturing might involve seeking higher education, being responsible in your actions, being selfless and supporting others through volunteer or charity work. To me her actions practically scream immaturity and are a cry for any kind of attention like when a child does or says something shocking just to get a reaction which I see all the time with the kindergarteners at the school where I work. Aside from her actions, her words indicate immaturity as well. Take what she said about drug use. She referred to weed and molly as “happy and social” drugs. Clearly she is not knowledgeable about the negative aspects of drug use. The bad effects on your body notwithstanding, what if you hurt yourself or others while under the influence of them? Only someone who has never experienced the pain associated with seeing someone you care about suffer from drug use and addiction could have such a casual and unconcerned attitude. At any rate, this objectification is growing out of control, if it’s not out of control already and it saddens me that so many women actively do it to themselves. Now don’t misunderstand me by thinking I don’t think it’s right for women to want to feel sexy. That is so far from true. I myself like to feel attractive and appreciate when it’s noticed, but I don’t want it to be the only thing that is noticed about me. I would like to be appreciated for my intelligence, my personality, my sense of humor, my kindness for others, my creativity and my volunteer work. I am proud of these aspects about myself and that is what I prefer to put out there, not my sexual proclivities. Lastly, I did not write all this in order to “slut-shame” or attack anyone. For one, I wrote it to further contribute to the discussion that Rashida said she was inviting others to continue. Secondly, I want to show support for Rashida and thank her for speaking up. I think she is a better role model then any of those pop tarts.