Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sex sells

So my buddy Izzy Lyman a former People's Republic resident and former (token conservative) Daily Hampshire Gazette columnist asked for a quote a couple days ago on this pre-teen risque public performance, knowing of course what my response would be.


COLUMN: A Woman's World
Comfortable with ugliness

By Izzy Lyman | 0 comments

The World of Dance is a high-energy, national urban dance contest. As a result of a recent WOD event, held in Pomona, Calif., last month, a spontaneous referendum on modern cultural ethos has broken out, due to the antics of some of its younger contestants.

Here's what happened: The proverbial YouTube video materialized -- which could have had a "viewer discretion" advisory on it -- showing a group of cute 8- and 9-year-old girls performing in the competition.

The little gals' routine, however, was anything but endearing. Arrayed in costumes that resembled suggestive lingerie, they gyrated to the Beyonce tune "Single Ladies."

The two minutes of racy showmanship were disturbing enough that mental health gurus, like Dr. Phil, were pronouncing it a pedophiliac fantasy.

Given how muscular and polished the performance is, it's obvious the small single ladies have spent many hours synchronizing their moves and effectively channeling Jay-Z's sexy wife.

So it was only natural, as it is in a country with a legal tradition of shielding its young from predators and which historically frowns upon age-inappropriate activities and dress codes for kiddies, when sensible folks muttered, as the video went viral, "Where are the moms and dads of these children?"

I'd add, "And who is the indiscreet choreographer?"

It turns out the parents of at least two of the girls -- Cory Miller and Melissa Presch -- were enthusiastically behind their daughters' "decision" to shake their petite behinds.

Miller and Presch, whose postures alternated between defensive and hip, appeared on Good Morning America, and coolly told us fuddy-duddies to buzz off. They explained that the risqu moves were "completely normal" for dancing that the video was "taken completely out of context" that they are "proud of their daughters and their accomplishments."

Really? This "accomplishment" was no spelling bee victory, folks. To be fair, it is jarring to be at the center of a national controversy and have strangers aggressively question your personal choices. But the lack of introspection, on the part of Miller and Presch, was also jarring.

Contrast their responses to the dance routine to that of Larry Kelley, who is a dad to a pair of active young daughters and once loudly complained on The O'Reilly Factor, when teenagers in his town's public high school wanted to perform The Vagina Monologues.

Kelley told me, "In this climate of constant bombardment, reiterating 'sex sells,' we should be especially vigilant about protecting our innocent children from growing up so exceedingly fast."

Most morally-engaged, common-sense mothers and fathers would not want their little girls sashaying, in skimpy ruffled outfits, in the spotlight, to music-impersonating drivel.

Besides, whatever happened to lasses rearranging doll house furniture, hosting tea parties, and reading Pippi Longstocking books or being inspired by Charlotte's Web? As for physical exercise, a capital choice is to enroll your daughter in a martial arts class, if she's game, and let her learn, early on, that her body, if need be, can be a potential weapon of self-defense instead of an object of lust.

The dance fiasco is not the first time kids mimicking socially-suspect adult behavior has created a rumpus. Nor will it be the last.

But it may well be a watershed moment. It has caused many of us to come to grips with how mainstream this practice of sexualizing minors in the name of art has become, and how too many parents, who should know better, are comfortable with an ugly trend.

Izzy Lyman is a freelance columnist and former Belgrade resident who contributes "A Woman's World" exclusively to the Belgrade News. Reach her at


Anonymous said...

Oh, my gosh! I can't even believe this one!


Anonymous said...

It's hard to know how to respond to this video of really young girls putting on a show that consists of gyrations one sees frequently on VH1. It's not so much shocking as sad, and I feel something along the lines of embarrassment for the girls and for the parents of these girls. My daughter's dance performances were nothing like this. They involved training and technique with a considerable amount of sweat equity involved, and if there happened to be a hip bump it was done to the tune of a Horace Silver jazz number, in black tights and leotard with maybe a colorful scarf tied around her waist. It had nothing to do with modesty. It had to do with class. It was serious business.
Now we have 9 year old girls spending hours in front of the mirror agonizing over their not perfect figures while utilizing bulimic-like methods to achieve the bone thin bodies of the models they emulate in the so-called fashion magazines for teens, or practicing the pseudo-seductive moves of the Shakiras we see on television. Society doesn't allow for them to have much of a childhood with the pressure from pushing, prodding parents starting so early on, leaving no time for the kids to be just kids. It's competition time from the time they're born and sex has become a part of it in a way that it wasn't years ago. I used to jump rope and play ball with my girlfriends after school, outside, unsupervised. Now we worry about our girls becoming sexual prey for the sickos out there. What a shame.
I didn't see the high school performance of the Vagina Monologues. Maybe I would have found it inappropriate to be performed by high schoolers. Maybe not. They're not eight or nine. They're sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. Big difference. And in today's world perhaps that's old enough. In general, though, I see the play as way more political than sexual and it's certainly possible that high school age kids are savvy enough and perfectly capable of handling it in the respectful manner it deserves.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, I guess maybe if the girls edited out the Monologue extolling the (lesbian) sex an adult had with a 16-year-old (in the original version she was only 13!) after being fed booze MAYBE it would have been okay.

You would think ARHS after the Principal Myers pedophilia scandal would have at least thought twice about THAT particular scene.

S.P. Sullivan said...

Referring to Dr. Phil as a "mental health guru" really discredits an otherwise valid argument. That's like calling Jerry Springer a "conflict resolution guru"

LarryK4 said...

Well, I am trying to get Springer to come cover the next Amherst School Committee meeting.

Or maybe a Professional Wrestling referee.

Ry Willey said...

Morally Bankrupt society we live in these days.

-Ryan Willey