Status. Rant.

My friend Snooky has a husband who is a DJ. We talked about the amount of "bling" in hip-hop videos today. In the latest Missy Elliott video (didn't think I'd do *that* didja?), there are Jeeps and tekkie devices, and of all things a Yorkie. A dog. As a status symbol. As though we lived in Ancient Rome and Caligula were our leader.

OK, I realize that as Americans, a working-class immigrant people gone nouveau riche, we are all rather excited to acquire stuff and things and bling. African-Americans are particularly entitled to explore their cravings for things, too (I chuckle at Chris Rock's rant about spinning rims).

But on reading this entry by Concierge Services, I realize that it is becoming easier and easier for our kids to be sucked in to owning things to prove their mettle. The corporate consumer culturalists get us when we're young and keep us addicted.

American Girl. Reebok, Nike, and Puma shoes. Puma bags. Kate Spade bags. Even Louis Vuitton bags for young'uns. On MTV (a horrible Caligula consumerist show, so far it has deviated from the art that was the 24-hour music video show) "My Super Sweet 16" presents to us a young Los Angeles (Iranian?) girl who insists on having a harem-style Sweet 16 party, flies off to Paris for her outfits, tells her mother she is "having an emergency" on viewing the Versace window, convinces her dad to buy her a brand new Range Rover as her first car, employs about four stud-like looking young men to lift her on entrance to her party, and her mother flips out when the daughter heads off to Santa Barbara with her friends because "that is the last straw."

I thought Jordache and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were the big deal when I was growing up.

Today, it's attempted or actual murders over Harry Potter books. We relinquish our selves for things to prove who we are. I do think this phenomenon occurs in other places, other countries, other societies...but surely, not to the degree that we allow it to happen here.

Has our society gone insane, or are we the victim of pandemic low self-esteem?


Becky said...

I get queasy just looking at the Wal-Mart flyers arriving now with back-to-school clothes where the girls' t-shirts have "B-L-I-N-G" spelled out in rhinestones, etc. Ick. And parents who should know better think it's cute.

I also get annoyed with those parents who give me the "just you wait until they're older" argument (my eldest just turned 8) when in a discussion about *things* they talk about kids' rooms full of their own TVs, computers, stereos, and phones, and needing the latest sneakers. As though it's the kids who decide.

I know it's easier in the short run NOT to parent your kids. But it's the long run that scares me...

Again, yet another reason to homeschool.

Calletta said...

I agree with Becky. It's so much easier to give in, thinking and hoping your kids will end up liking, loving and/or respecting you more. But that just doesn't ring true.

My parents knew how to set boundaries and limits. And they knew how to communicate with me. And when they asked one day why I'd never been a rebellious child, I told them, "You never gave me a reason." Kids without limits will push until they find a limit--the law, what have you. When parents give their kids limits, and have open discussions about what and why, somewhere deep down the kids know the parents care. As opposed to, "Aw, I can do what I want! My parents don't care!"

Becky said...

Well said, Calletta. All of the kids I can remember from elementary and high school who got in trouble were testing the limits, just to evoke some kind of reaction from the parents. I'm sure they would have been even happier with a "No/Stay home/Don't do that/Because I said so" than the indifferent shrug from not one but two sets of parents (the biggest rebels/troublemakers were invariably from the wealthier families and had divorced parents). Incredibly sad.

Another gift my parents gave me -- and which we've started giving our kids -- was the ability to "blame them" for anything I didn't want to do. For example, "I can't go to Philip's party because my parents won't let me." A nice easy out at the time until I learned I could say no for myself : )

And in the end, wouldn't you rather have a great relationship with your parents than a chi-chi Sweet Sixteen...