N is for No, You Can't Date Until You're 35
I figured my completed transformation from dog collar-wearing teenager to irreverent young adult to fuddy-duddy parental unit deserved some sort of celebration. And so I had an entire post planned about the ultimate in "those darn kids today" p0p culture action, MTV's My Sweet Sixteen. I mean, an entire reality show dedicated to the half-million dollar birthday celebrations of ungrateful little whippersnappers? Comedy gold for a judgmental old fart like me.
Then I turned on Noggin.
It's not that Noggin is a problem, per se. I mean The Backyardigans? I got no beef with them. But apparently at 6pm, Noggin becomes the Fresh Prince of Bel Air Reruns for Tweens Channel, more formally known as The N. Their slogan is Real. Life. Now. Because hey, what's more "real life" than The Fresh Prince of Bel Air?
Last night The N ran a commercial for a game on their website called The Hook-Up. (Hookup, according to Wikipedia, denotes casual sexual activity outside the context of a romantic relationship.) The ad featured a well-coiffed but bookish teen (you can tell the nerdy girls by the glasses, you know) explaining that her time in the library will give her a chance to come up with a rumor to start about Amy "because I need to get my flirt on with Justin and she needs to back off."
Then the announcer copy goes on to say: "The Hook-Up. A game of charm and treachery and deceit. Where you do whatever it takes to hook up with your dream guy. So go ahead. Be as flirtatious and manipulative and outrageous as you want to be. No one has to know."
And that's when I decided that my daughter would be homeschooled and raised gay to the very best of our ability.
Of course I logged on (how could I resist?) and discovered the game is some kind of lo-tech Sims-meets-Mean Girls kind of thing. From the instructions:
How do you like being the new girl? You just got dropped into a town full of intrigue and romance and you'll need to play your cards right if you just want to survive, much less whip your rivals into shape and land yourself a man.See, what I learned here is that "landing yourself a man" (not a boy, mind you) is now the key to peer approval these days. Forget landing a spot on the field hockey team, or landing student council Vice President--those must be goals leftover from the good old days when we wore bobby socks and drove Edsels to school. And the way you land a man in this game is simple--humiliate (their word) the other girls in order to render them less threatening; and talk to every boy you enounter, making sure to check your "journal" where you accrue knowledge about them. (He likes me! He makes his own hip-hop music!)
Am I just not in on the joke? I mean, maybe this is like Grand Theft Auto for the pre-menstrual set, a big satire on the state of teen books and movies and programming (EliminiDATE, anyone?) today. But if so, are the young women out there savvy enough to get it? And if not, are we as moms powerful enough to overcome the message?
I gotta say, I have a daughter. And I'm a little nervous here.