Ordinarily I delve into Nickelodeon because I’m surfing on a lazy Sunday, and lacking substance in the form of Grim Adventures or a nice block of Mythbusters I find myself tossing about in the world of SpongeBob. (Ben 10 is tolerable, but only just barely, and I wonder how long it’ll take for Ben/Gwen hentai to hit the net, assuming it hasn’t already.*)
So this last weekend I stumbled across an almost Beatlesish song called “Crazy Car”, which I admit has a good hook and is nicely rendered, and learned it’s a preliminary to a new show on Nick that is debuting in late January, something they call The Naked Brothers Band.
Which would be cute, but the brothers in question are aged eleven and eight. The first two names that came to my mind were Michael Jackson and Mark Foley. (As in “NBB was directed by … and produced by…” respectively.) Naked Brothers Band … Is it really possible that no one at Nickelodeon thought, Hey, maybe we could call the show anything else at all?
A once-over of the Web page tells me not much, but I can infer a great deal; this is basically a warmed-over Partridge Family for tweens. It seems inane and insipid, but geared toward doing what parents want least to have happen: Giving moisties to their ten-year-old daughters.**
Look, I’m a liberal; I have been all my adult life, and I expect to be until I die. But that does not mean I like the idea of any for-profit, commercial network making money off of turning tween life into some bizarre, quasi-valid pursuit of boyfriends, dating or making out. No kid at ten needs to be talking about his or her relationship. Until the kid gives up Legos or Barbie, sex is too soon.***
Even the term “tween” was invented by marketing dimwits, many of them possibly the ones behind the selling of “NBB”. 2007 is going to be a year of intense and deeply-wrought chaos for parents of kids aged nine to twelve. And a lot of it is likely to be because of this “NBB” thing, I suspect.
Several years ago I wrote a book called The Beasts of Delphos. It’s a coming-of-age novel that starts when its protagonist, Barris, as about twelve years of age, and it follows his exploits into his late teens. In that novel, I describe — obliquely, and in depth, but not pornographic depth — Barris’s life, including his sex life. He has a male lover, and is deeply involved in intimacy with several women as well; and yet, I’m disturbed by the NBB idea.
Not because it relaxes sexual mores; and not because it may or may not change how we see tweens — though, given the general discomfort in the US about how interested preteens seem to be in adult behavior, this should be a little disturbing to at least some parents. It’s because of the intent of one versus that of the other. Beasts of Delphos was written by an adult, for adults; it was and is not intended to be consumed by children. NBB, on the other hand, is all about being by, for and targeted at kids who don’t even have hair enough to know what sex actually is.
If an extreme liberal like me is lifting a warning flag, well yeah, maybe.
Parents, here’s my advice to you: Channel-block Nickelodeon and buy a Wii, right now. You’ll be vastly, profoundly glad you did in less than eighteen months when you compare notes with people who didn’t heed this warning.
And buy condoms, just in case. (They might even have the NBB logo on them. I bet they glow and are covered in polka dots.) Not for your own kids; they’re to give to the parents who didn’t read this note, when they ask if their kids can have a NBB Slumber Party at your house.
No, no — I’m not seriously suggesting that this vapid kids’ cable thing is going to destroy your ethical hold on your children. But even the liberal I am, even after reviewing the Nick site that seems to be at great pains to emphasize the “strong moral center” of the show, I’ve been watching the material that Nick is cranking out to promote their new series — and I, liberal, atheist, marginal hedonist — I am made a little uneasy by it.
That should worry the hell out of almost anyone.
* Didn’t Google, don’t want to know, so don’t post links.
** And, to be sure, stimulating the occasional ten-year-old boy.
*** And even then, it’s probably too soon; it’s up to the parents to help their children decide, not some cell-phone-in-the-ear marketroid sales tard.
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