The post about Akon and his "indiscretion" with a 14-year-old minister's daughter during a concert performance gave me an arresting take on the bilge in the culture these days. The April issue of TeenVogue carried a short piece on the same phenomenon-- the trendy style of dancing called "freaking" or "crunking" by kids, many of whom are testing it out at school dances. I guess it's caught a lot of school administrators by surprise, or maybe people in education just shrug it off under the "kid's today" syndrome.
But there appears to be a backlash coming, at least as reported by TeenVogue. (For the record, Vogue is one fashion mag I can count on to minimize the "yikes" factor and emphasize classy, creative fashion. I can't quite call it "high-brow"-- maybe "raised-brow"?-- but its junior version, TeenVogue, strikes me the same way. There's plenty of cool fashion and ads, as well as a liberal dose of decent articles and a generally civilized-- dare I say modest?--tone.)
Some school administrators have decided to cancel dances rather than try to monitor and control the trend. Some are requiring kids and parents to sign a contract to denote their agreement with guidelines on dancing, drugs, alcohol, and appropriate attire. Having lost a common moral code under which to agree on these matters, we are seeing administrators forced to codify and legalize behaviour standards once understood implicitly.
I don't think we should be surprised that simulated sex as dancing has become the trend, even one practiced by 12- and 13-years-olds at their middle school dances. Kids are sponges, and they've been absorbing MTV and VH1 and BET and movies and TV shows that glamourize this stuff for years. They are certainly getting the message: sex is cool, everybody does it, it's just the thing you do. Nothing is sacred; nothing private. How much they understand about the effects, short- and long-term, of cheapening sex in this way is suspect. But what do we adults care, as long as we are moving our products? Sex sells everything from yogurt to phone service, from sneakers to movies, and its hypnotic grasp is powerful. Anyone, especially a highly-emotional, throes-of-puberty kid, is easily manipulated in its charge.
So who is really at fault in the Akon flap-- the rapper, the minister's daughter, her parents, society at large? I say the adults, Akon and the reverend minister included. This is rubbish, and ignominy. We make sex a poison when we dose kids with it. We adults lose the meaning and beauty of our sexuality when we get a kick out of, or shrug our shoulders at, public sex simulation by adolescent children. We need to take the blame-- it's our example, and our disgrace.