Rihanna is making the news again. Quite a bit, in the UK especially. First, she had to change the title of her song “S&M” to the more reasonable “Come On.” Then she has been put on the defensive for the depiction of someone getting shot in the head for her new video”Man Down.” And most recently, upon review of her performance routine on the show Xfactor it was adjudged that it was ok for children to watch because there was only “reasonable thrusting” involved.
The UK is launching an initiative to try and protect children from commercialization. This includes asking retailers to sign a code of ethics in which they will not carry clothing with suggestive slogans or that emphasize gender stereotypes or could be considered sexually mature for pre-teens. They are moving “Lads” magazine back to the top shelf with a brown paper wrapper and trying to clean up the sex and violence on TV before 9pm.
Rihanna tweeted “”I’m a 23 year old rockstar with NO KIDS! What’s up with everybody wantin me to be a parent? I’m just a girl, I can only be your/our voice!” in response to all this.
And she has a point. The focus is on the rockstar, the very young rockstar, guiding herself as if she was the parent of these pre-teens she has never even met. She is not Miley Cyrus, who is seeking a pre-teen demographic (although not any more). She is young, sexy and hip and wants to appeal to 23 year olds, not 11 year olds. She also wants to talk about issues that she perceives as effecting her fan base, which she sees as being in their 20s.
It is a unique phenomenon that grew out of the movement in the 70s to let children become “self-realized” and to abdicate the role of parent in favor of being a friend that the majority of power in a family has shifted to the child and not the parent. Time and time again I hear parents bemoaning the choice in their child’s music and clothing but the god’s honest reality of it is, who bought it? Any argument, any rationalization stops as soon as you ask that question. And if the child brought it with their allowance, who gave them the allowance with no guidelines?
Now, some 40 years later, the movement is about policing media, artists and manufacturers to play the role of parent. Much in the same way that the majority of parenting is now expected to be done by teachers. There is thin support to the argument of working parents not having the time to be there to watch everything, but the thing is, no parent has ever had to be present 24/7 to make sure that the choices their children make are in keeping with “the rules of the house.”
If I were to select a companion movement that, wedded to the “I am my child’s friend” disaster, has created the mess we have with the oversexualization and commercialization of children it would be the “live in the present” movement. The here and now. The moment.
Ask anyone with the slightest bit of ability to contemplate cause and effect and they will tell you that an over emphasis on the moment prevents you from being able to see the broader implications of an action. It prevents you from being able to project future possibilities and to then choose to act with self-control in the present.
People, especially Americans, have misconstrued the essence of mindfulness and being present in the moment. They dropped history and avoid potential responsibility by clinging to a literal translation of carpe diem and fail to understand that it is not about only being in the present, but about the ability to balance the present with the past and future and then to make informed and responsible choices.
Back to Baumeister, he points out that our capacity for self-deception is very limited. However, if we can cling to a few kernals of truth, we can make something that we can believe and self-deceive with. He also points out that guilt is greatly misunderstood. That we place too much emphasis on guilt that is felt after something has been done – people who feel guilt after tend to then avoid repeating what they have done. Anticipatory guilt is more common. That is when we anticipate guilt for doing something that we know will have an ill effect and rather than change our plans, we create rationalizations before the act so we do not feel guilt after. The most common form of rationalization is to decide that what we are going to do in someway will benefit the other person.
Like – breaking up with someone who you know is very much in love with you – the anticipatory guilt is there but you decide that you are doing something good for them by allowing them to be free to find someone who really loves them.
Like – letting your child make decisions about friends, clothing and music that are inappropriate and deciding that it is a way for them to express themselves and find their identity.
Like – shooting small children during a purge because you are doing them a favor by sparing them the suffering of being orphans in a despised class.
The follow up action to anticipatory guilt and justification is to find someone outside of the action to blame for preventing the occurrence.
Like – blaming a 23 year old rockstar with an adult fanbase for creating music and videos inappropriate for your 10 year old to view.
c.2011 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.