Just read about a fascinating bit of parenting discussion at SXSW on raising digital natives, that is, kids who grow up online and using mobile technology. Now, I'm not sure my kid would be ready for a Twitter account at age 7, as mentioned in the piece. But one angle of the discussion, about how TV watching fits in, rang true in Citizen Mom's house:
The main point of disagreement amongst the group arose over the issue of limiting TV time. Bracken, for instance, will not let his daughter watch TV, but has no problem showing her streaming Netflix shows on his iPad. Sinker agreed, noting the unlike regular TV, streaming media contains little or no commercials for unhealthy foods or products parents might find to be objectionable. Some in the audience did not agree with this explanation, however, and called Bracken's approach hypocritical. (InnovationNews Daily, via @NatashaChart)
To me there's nothing hypocritical about this, in fact, controlling what visual media kids consume is as important as controlling how much is watched and on what device. This is why as a parent I've always loved On Demand kids programming so much -- it isn't just being able to cue up Phineas and Ferb whenever and wherever, it's being able to do so in a way that avoids the commercials for Totino's Pizza Rolls and Fuzzoodles. It's about monitoring quality, sometimes more than quantity.
I'm convinced that we avoided turning Jack into one of those kids who demands a new toy every time he's in the store by keeping him away from TV commercials for as long as possible. Now, at age 9, he not only prefers watching TV programming online or on demand, but the very idea of having to show up in front of the TV at a certain time to watch a certain show is alien. It's just not the way his world works.
Sub-plot of last week's Mad Men episode: Peggy and Pete cook up a scheme to build publicity for Sugarberry hams by hiring two broads to get in a fight over one in a store. The subsequent buzz results in a
new slogan: "Our hams are worth fighting for."
My biggest criticism of Snooki and her ham-glazed friends isn't about what they've (allegedly) done to our media culture, or their insult-by-example adherence to some notion of what it means to be "Italian," or the astounding vapidity of GTL as a lifestyle ethos.
What kills me is how shockingly unoriginal the whole thing is.
It's as if bimbettes with a day drunk on don't annoy beach patrons every
day somewhere along the Shore. Or as if some of those dumb skanks don't then sassmouth the cops to the point that they get tossed into the back of the car. It's called Senior Week, people, and it's been wasting police resources at the Shore for decades, only those girls usually come away with it with a "walking ticket" court summons and a hangover. For the Snookis of this world, it's a career highlight.
Our response to it all -- round after round of phony shock and indignation, followed by hilariously unironic examinations of our collective cultural conscience -- are re-runs of a re-run at this point, "scandals" that once may have really revealed something about ourselves but are now just on endless repeat in syndication. Even the
"Free Snooki" T-shirt that magically appeared on the other cast member who went to fetch Snooki from the police station seemed like a cheap Boardwalk knockoff of a joke that was sort-of funny a decade ago.
You all know by now how much I love the Wendy Williams TV show, right? Not only does she have the best audience around -- and by "best" I mean a big ol' bowl of crazyflakes drenched in awesomesauce -- but Wendy is even more fun, likable and authentic on TV than on the radio. OK the hair's not authentic, but the wigs are half the fun.
One of these days I'm going to get up there to visit the show and write about it, but for now, enjoy what has to be the highlight of anybody's life: A song from Elmo.
We can retire the AutoTune now, Elmo done broke it.
Rest in peace, Al Alberts. You occupy a certain place in our hearts, the one where all the guys have Paulie Walnuts hair, the 4-year-olds already have the Philly accent, and the local Saturday morning talent show is a must-watch.
I love this clip especially because the song with which Uncle Al and Melissa Lynn serenaded the Delaware Valley back in the day is the one my mom sings to babies while she bounce-walks them around the house. Shoutout to Nanie!
Now I feel like watching Dancin' On Air. At times like these I think of little Tina Fey out in Upper Darby soaking all this in growing up. Could you see a Tina Fey movie version of the mid-80s Philly local TV scene: Paul Rudd as the Eddie Bruce-type host of the after-school dance show? Jennifer Coolidge as Stella Alberts? Amy Poehler as the stage mom of the diva Teenybopper? Will Ferrell as the Captain Noah-esque host of the kid show? GO!
Enough of parents who treat their kids, and their home life, as revenue streams.
It's bad enough that most TV networks are so willing to serve us up the "drama" of reality TV when others are still spending money on good writing and acting. It's craven enough in these Depression-esque times, becoming famous for nothing more than how much humiliation you're willing to take, or how tacky you can be, or who you're knocked up by, is a career aspiration. But enough with the kids.
And we watch these shows why? Is it really entertaining to watch people fuck up their lives, to gasp in horror at secrets laid bare? I wonder, sometimes even as I'm watching. It's fine, I guess, among consenting adults.
But enough of the Falcon Heenes, the Kylie Kardashians, the Plus Eight, those innumerable Duggars, all those children skittering around in front of the cameras as their childhoods erode before our eyes. Reality TV is obviously the most significant recent alteration of the TV landscape, and the best shows are entertaining and enlightening. Some even manage to be silly and educational. The lesser ones are nothing more than televised freak shows. Worst of all are the ones in which kids are the freaks.
I mentioned this on Twitter and Facebook, but I'm saying it again here: I will boycott any producer who works with the Heenes on a reality TV show and any network that would air it.
Nickelodeon has released this image of Tween Dora to soothe the fears of parents like me, who were worried our beloved Latina explorer girl was being sexed up too much. The fears were based, in part, on the unfortunate silhouette the network released, which was supposed to keep the mystery alive until the toy's launch later this year, but instead made Boots' best friend look like something on the back of a mudflap.
So OK, she doesn't look sexy per se, but I'm still unhappy about the message this whole situation sends to little girls. Little-girl Dora is smart, courageous, ambitious, focused on teaching kids about problem-solving. Tween Dora's most important feature seems to be that you can plug her into the computer and change her eye color and jewelry. Oh, and take her shopping!
Yet another reminder to our girls that it's great to be smart and clever when you're a kid, but "growing up" means forgetting all that and becoming just another Barbie.
I'm still hoping for the best from this -- after all, it's important our girls know it's OK to be smart and pretty, and that life isn't all about following Maps and watching out for Swiper. But I am not confident.
The Associated Press is reporting that actor Ricardo Montalban, who not only battled the devil as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island (you know that was your favorite episode, don't front) but forever immortalized the qualities of a certain type of automotive upholstery, has died at age 88.