August 18, 2009

Stigma of a Preteen’s Preference

Filed under: 100 Days of Summer,Musical Musing,What the hell?,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 11:33 am

So this morning I was driving to work and a song came on the radio that I’d heard a few times. Thought it was a cute song, so when I got to work I went to the radio station’s website to check the list of recently played songs to see what the title and artist were. And for a moment there I felt I had to cleanse myself, repent, confess my sins, and go into shameful exile. For that cute song, I was horrified to discover, is sung by *gasp* Miley Cyrus!

Of course, that horrified dirty feeling lasted all of half a minute before I realized, well, so what? Sure, I, a 26-year-old, am “supposed” to hate everything about her, as well as the Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift and whoever else. They, along with Twilight, are a favorite thing to mock by everyone from long-time comedians to the contributors at ROFLrazzi. It has long since gotten stale, though, save for ones that are actually cleverly done. But it doesn’t matter because they’re making fun of something everyone already hates so that right there is apparently what passes for comedy.

So, if I might ask a dangerous question, why exactly are Miley Cyrus and the others hated so much? Her music is generic, sure, but it’s not particularly bad. Hell, you’d be hard pressed to find any music popular enough for radio play, even by the most talented respected bands, to be anything other than generic. So that can’t be it. Oh, wait, I know the answer. I forgot the general rule that if in doubt about irrational contempt, cherchez la jeunesse.

It’s that same old story again. These singers and other entertainers are hated so much because *gasp* they’re popular with teens! Or, to make a correction, more like they’re popular with preteens, since, as I’ve noticed even since I was that age, what adults seem to peg as a teen sensation is generally not particularly liked by anyone past the 7th grade. And even then, it’s because of the ageist labels of who is supposed to like what. The preteens are told Miley Cyrus is a teen sensation, and they are supposed to want to be older, so they become fans of her to be like the teens, while unknown to them, the teens aren’t actually interested in Miley Cyrus because being pegged as supposed to like her, when she’s actually liked by even younger people, is rather obvious infantilization and they’re more mature than that.

But I digress. Look what happens to anyone who breaks from this mold. Our NYRAnian friend Ken Boring is a 25-year-old straight male who likes Britney Spears’s music. See what happened there? Ageist to imply there’s something inherently wrong with someone his age liking this particular singer, laced with a little homophobia in the implication that only someone who’s gay, as if there’s anything wrong with being gay, would like something so “inferior” as Britney Spears.

A real gem was what I saw on a list not too long ago, where it joked that anyone over the age of 12 who’d go to a Miley Cyrus concert alone might as well just go ahead and put themselves on the sex offender registry right now. Yeah, joke or not, think about that one for a moment. It’s not just the same old idea that you’re immature or stupid if you like something that’s “for kids”. It’s that if you like a “kid” thing, you must be a pedophile! Because enjoying a legitimate singer’s music and raping an 8-year-old are totally the same thing. 🙄

Oh, the hate is boundless! A decade ago when Britney Spears was first getting super popular, all the “respectable adults” and teens wishing to emulate the “respectable adults” despised her for no other reason than being popular with preteens, happy to have her sexual innuendo as another fine excuse for their hatred so they can pretend it’s out of concern for the little kids whose brains would explode at the sight of a skirt that allows the knees to show. When I first heard of her, I had no strong opinions about her either way. Song was mildly catchy and she seemed kind of pretty, I thought. See, before being bombarded with being told how I’m supposed to feel about a celebrity popular with preteens, I felt perfectly free to form my own opinion. Without the whole “oh, she’s a slut and a bad influence on little girls!” Based on nothing whatsoever, but if it’s belittling anything kids like, adults eat it up. Not to mention what I heard one time back then: “Britney Spears is the reason 12-year-old girls get pregnant.” O RLY? I wasn’t aware she was actually a guy running around spreading her (his?) seed by raping 12-year-old girls. No, I’m fairly certain she’s responsible for only two pregnancies: her own! And considering the vast majority of 12-year-olds’ pregnancies were conceived without her full informed consent (to varying degrees) and in many cases she’s also the baby’s sister or aunt or cousin, it is just incredibly insulting and ignorant to assume all the blame for this sad problem lies on the girl’s choice of entertainment. Yeah, concerned troll is very concerned. Goddamn I want to smack you people sometimes!

It’s all perhaps a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. This entertainment segregation enforced by ridicule and veiled implications of perversion is all meant to separate adults and kids into their own entirely separate lifestyles with a wall between them that no respectable person could ever dare or desire to cross. With this comes greatly diminished understanding between the two groups, with the kids unaware of what the adult world is like and thus unable to effectively plan for their futures, and the adults wallowing in self-pity that their kids are so alien to them without acknowledging that they’re the ones who made it so their kids are so alien to them to begin with! And with the lack of understanding of course comes the bigotry and contempt for the kids and their lifestyle, their entertainment choices. The Jonas Brothers could be as good as Led Zeppelin and it wouldn’t matter, because it’s kids who like them, and the number one rule of being an adult is that you must hate young people with all your heart and exploit them to your own ends. Under the guise of love, concern, and protection of course. Hey, who’d doubt you?

This has been Day 87 of the 100 Days of Summer, Round 9.


  1. Great essay. It’s been a while.

    Comment by JerseyJ — August 18, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  2. I found Britney Spears contemptible when I looked at her and heard her music. I have no opinion of Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Bros., not having heard their music, although since I rarely hear popular music and like it, I have a certain presumption against them.

    Why do you say that the “vast majority of 12-year-olds’ pregnancies were conceived without her full informed consent (to varying degrees)”?

    Comment by Alexander — August 18, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  3. It`s not an ageist thing. It`s a “they suck” thing and it propogates the idea that all teens an like is shit like that.

    Comment by Mackadal — August 23, 2009 @ 9:45 pm

  4. I think you missed my point. I’m saying it’s the other way around. That, regardless of whether these singers suck based on talent, we’re still expected to dislike them because teens are their demographic, with that alone making them inferior. Since, at the beginning, I noted that, taken alone and hearing them without knowing who they were, they didn’t sound any different from anything else you might hear on the radio, even stuff that came out decades ago and/or are aimed at older audiences.

    Comment by Katrina — August 24, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

  5. I like Miley Cyrus’ music, damnit! Taylor Swift isn’t too bad, but she’s seriously overplayed on pop stations (which, sadly, I have to hear while my wife is in the car). Jonas Brothers are just plain dog shit with absolutely ZERO talent. Selena Gomez and Miranda Cosgrove are “meh” and Demi Lavato isn’t even worth an opinion.

    Comment by Lord Galen — September 2, 2009 @ 10:09 pm

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