Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mean Girls

We've been trying to make sense of this story from South Hadley of a 15 year old Irish girl hanging herself after being tormented by the gaggle of mean girls in her school.

She decided that death was better than living through that.

Really, I don't know what she decided and wouldn't presume to.

Still, watching the country change - seeing the republican party in all of their smarminess - "it's all about me" culture emerge. Greed, power, selfishness.

What would Howard Zinn be trying to teach us?

I know that when things get rough, we all start protecting our turf. But the "real housewives of orange county" are just the South Hadley mean girls in middle age. All Botoxed. And we watch (actually, I don't watch - it's the commercials during the West Wing reruns on Bravo). And we watch. And affirm. And approve. And support. And compensate - greatly.

Grad school has taught me brainy stuff, like economic theory, that talks about "externalities' which are those things that are not captured in the price of something. So if we consider that creating a show, like "stupid women with botox and no brains who like chaos" it means that Bravo paid stupid women to participate, expecting that the network would generate revenue from people watching, but the externality is what other consequences are that won't be reflected in the financial transaction. What about the impression given to 11-year-olds who think this is the way to act? Or the 11-year-olds who are the victims of their meanness?

I'm not into censorship - don't get the wrong impression - I just get disappointed in what we value. Mothers might consider sitting with their daughters and using these crappy shows as examples of how not to act. And embrace opportunities to step in when people are being mean to other people. We've all been the kid who is different - because we wore the wrong jeans or were the wrong size or whose parents drove the wrong car. Or dated the geeky guy because we liked his poetry or because he was too nice for the Mean Girls. The geeky guys sometimes turn out to be wonderful husbands and fathers.

There's no making sense of the Mean Girls. We just have to insist that they're not cool.

They're not cool.
They're mean. And need to understand the consequences.

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