Thursday, January 03, 2008

Reality TV Turns Girls Into Idiots

A 13-year-old I know tells me that girl-on-girl action is all the rage at her middle school.

"People think it's cool," she said queasily.

A 10-year-old from the neighborhood told me she avidly watched MTV's A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila, adding that she couldn't wait to find out if Tila went "for the guy or the girl."

I've seen bits of one or two episodes. The designed-to-titillate girl-on-girl action just made me cranky.

Reality TV lesbianism strikes me as disrespectful to real lesbians, who as far as I know, are not given to squeezing each other's breasts at homecoming dances to please some stupid guy. (I thought lesbians weren't so interested in guys.) No, this action seems to be limited to "hot" girls or wannabe "hot" girls who desperately do want to please some stupid guy.

And that's the scary thing about the prevalence of TV girl-on-girl action: It promotes the idea that if you want a guy, you have to live out some fantasy he may or may not harbor (as opposed to being yourself; that's out of the question). Apparently, a lot of young -- and not so young -- girls are buying it.

Reality TV tells girls that to be successful, they have to be "hot," and not in a Sophia Loren or even a Marilyn Monroe kind of way. If you're hot, you're probably but not necessarily blonde. You wear your hair long and your skirts short. You may or may not possess your original nose and breasts. You demonstrate your hotness by teetering around on toothpicks and making out with whomever happens to be sitting next to you. You should have at least one sex tape in the can.

Unfortunately, reality is beginning to imitate reality TV for young girls. That's what the girls tell me, anyway.

Clearly, reality TV promotes stupidity. Another young acquaintance of mine, a striking blonde who once planned to go to college on a soccer scholarship, now carries a little dog in her purse like Paris Hilton. She and her friends studied Hilton's show The Simple Life as if it were the Talmud. In addition to carrying a little dog like her role model, this girl has become calculating, mean, and self-centered.

She may be getting the attention she wants now, but if she ever hopes to be happy, she's biking down the wrong road. Acting like an idiot never attracts love, respect, and devotion. It elicits contempt, gossip, and, ultimately, pity.

After all, nobody -- except the paparazzi who make money on her and maybe her parents -- loves Paris Hilton. And aside from the teenagers she influences, nobody admires her, either.

It's the same for Tila Tequila, who claims to be genuinely bisexual. Her car wreck of a show attracted lots of attention, sure, but a sad kind of attention. What does the future hold for women like Tila, I wonder. Does she love anybody? Does anybody really love her? Will her life end up a series of tragic attempts for attention?

I hope she and Paris are saving their money; careers like theirs aren't known for longevity. And I'm longing for the day we have our fill of their ilk and the freak shows they inhabit (pray for an end to the writers' strike! TV needs writers).

In the meantime, I worry about the brainwashed girls who believe cattiness, materialism, and faux lesbianism trump intelligence, kindness, and a healthy sense of humor in the quest for happiness.

Or even for a decent boyfriend.