Monday, December 24, 2007

Where I Stand

After reading the Dad Gone Mad post about the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy announcement and the various ways in which Nickelodeon might or might not address it, and then in reading all the comments, from people who seem to feel strongly one way or the other, I’ve been considering my personal feelings on the subject. In one way, I agree with pretty much everyone, a little bit. And in another way, I don’t really agree with anyone completely. See? See why my photo is in the dictionary next to “wishy-washy”?

I don’t agree that she should be stoned, or made to wear a big PMS (pre-marital sex) embroidered upon her chest, or held up for public ridicule, or punished for the situation she finds herself in. She’s certainly not the only pregnant teen in America, that’s true. I also don’t agree that hey, let’s just roll with it, it’s nobody’s business anyway and who are the rest of us to judge her???

Here’s the gist of it, for me. And let me preface this now with an “it’s only my opinion, blah blah” kind of statement. FOR ME, the truth of the matter is, I hold Jamie Lynn Spears, and any public figure, to a higher standard of behavior. I think that with the reward of their chosen profession comes responsibility, and that they should conduct themselves accordingly. Maybe that’s wrong of me, maybe it’s not my place to do so … but I do. If she and the executives at Nickelodeon are going to stand on my front porch every week (metaphorically speaking, of course) and knock on the door and ask to gain access to my living room and my children, then for me, there are certain standards that need to be met, and a certain example that needs to be set.

No, I don’t use the tv as a babysitter, and no, the shows and movies my children watch are not their only moral compass. But short of moving to a remote ice house in Siberia with no electricity or cable or satellite or messenger polar bears, access to celebrity news, especially teen celebrity news, is not something from which I can shelter my children one hundred percent.

Like it or not, agree with it or not, teens (and more likely, pre-teens) think she’s fabulous, and therefore anything she does is fabulous. Yes, it’s easy for me as an adult to separate the actress from the character she plays, but that’s not as easy for the 8-9-10 yr old set. My kids understand that “Zoey” isn’t pregnant, but the girl who plays her is, and how is that possible when she’s not married and will the baby be on the show and will they make Chase the dad or will they just cancel the show and etc. Bottom line, I am not happy that JLS the actress, and Nickelodeon, her boss, asked for our endorsement and patronage and viewer-ship (is that even a word?) and then failed (again, only my opinion) to hold up their end of the bargain, which was to deliver an entertainment program showcasing young celebrities who aren’t the polar opposites of the characters they play. Don’t ask to come into my home each week as a wholesome teen celebrity, and then show up pregnant. Or in nude photos, like Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical (lest you think Disney isn’t as plagued as Nick). It makes me feel cheated and tricked.

I feel the same way about other scenarios, as well. Take the Miss America (or Miss USA, or whatever) pageants, where previous winners have been stripped of the title when compromising pictures show up on the internet. Sure, I get that these girls have lives outside of the realm of pageantry. But if you are going to stand up and ask to be chosen as a representative of the young women of this country, then I think there is a standard to uphold. These women want to be identified as cream of the crop --- I don’t think cream of the crop behavior is too much to ask.

Same thing for athletes. Don’t ask me to buy tickets to your sporting events, or your merchandise, or to watch you play Monday Night Football or Major League Baseball from the comfort of my couch, and then admit later that you cheated by taking steroids. Don’t ask me to watch you cleat an opposing player in the head because you got angry on the field. Don’t hide a file in your back pocket and then deny it’s yours when the camera CAUGHT YOU tossing it away from you on the field. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t ask to be held up as a role model for sportsmanship and then confess to taking part in a completely UN-sportsmanlike activity like dog fighting.

To the people who say “Hey, Michael Vick didn’t ASK to be anyone’s role model. He just wants to play football, and then be left alone to live his personal life on his own” --- my reply is, “Oh yes he DID ask to be a role model, when he willingly signed that contract with the Atlanta Falcons and all that goes with it” -- the same way JLS signed on as a public figure with Nick.

The same way I think it’s disgusting that a man would run for the highest public office this country has to offer, and then get caught with his pants down in the Oval Office. I do hold the President of the United States to a higher standard of behavior then getting blow jobs from an intern underneath the Resolute Desk (I have no idea if there really is a Resolute Desk, but we saw National Treasure II this weekend and I just think it’s a cool idea.) To the people who might say that is a private issue, to be handled between him and his wife, and that what goes on behind closed doors is no one else’s business, I say I respectfully disagree, with regard to public figures such as this.

What goes on behind closed doors *is* private business, as long as it stays behind closed doors and effects no one else. But when Monica Lewinsky shows up with a semen stain on her dress, or Lindsay Lohan passes out drunk in public, or Britney Spears keeps flashing her nether-regions getting in and out of cars, or Jamie Lynn Spears announces a pregnancy, or porn tapes or nudie photos of young stars keep surfacing, it’s no longer private. And don’t ask for me to vote for you in the next election, or watch your tv shows, or buy tickets to your movies, or buy my kids any of the merchandising crap being shoved down their throats at every commercial, unless you are willing to maintain a respectable level of accountability. In other words, yes, if you put your life out there, people are going to be watching it.

Bottom line, when you rely on the public, and the public’s wallet, to keep you where you are professionally, which athletes and celebrities and politicians do, then I think you have an obligation to that public to behave in a manner that is not completely out of line with decent societal expectations.

And to the people who say we Americans are uptight and hypocritical and puritanical. Well, perhaps we are. But this is our country and that is your country and that’s just the way it is. I think the biggest way we are hypocrites is the way in which we decry these behaviors, then forgive them so quickly. Why are all these celebrities released from rehab and still making blockbuster movies? Why is corporate greed, and even crime, rewarded with book deals? The above-mentioned Oval Office skankbag has a pretty good shot at being our country’s first-ever First Husband, which makes my stomach churn, but that’s just me. And what makes me even more disgusted about the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal is that I bet you anything if he were to be released from prison tomorrow, and given a position with a professional football team, there would be tons of people showing up to his first game with “We Heart You Michael” posters in the stands.

So, back to the JLS situation. Am I shocked that a 16 yr old would be sexually active and wind up pregnant? No, I’m not shocked. Just disappointed. Do I think they should cancel Zoey 101? Well, I hope they don’t, because too many other cast and crew are employed there as well. I would hate for all those people to lose their jobs due to a show cancellation. What I would like to see Nick do is either bring in a new actress to play Zoey, or even simply continue the show without her. And I would like to see Nick release JLS from her contract with them, but not as a punishment. Rather, as a show of support for the situation she is now in. Let her move back home to Louisiana and take this time to prepare herself for impending motherhood.

Do I think Nickelodeon should air a teen pregnancy special, like they’re supposedly considering? Well, I don’t really care because I wouldn’t let my kids watch it anyway. The message I keep trying to hammer home with Brayden is that this isn’t a typical teen pregnancy because JLS isn’t a typical teen. She already has the financial resources to handle an unplanned pregnancy and a baby. She has a private tutor and won’t have to face public high school as an unwed teen. She doesn’t have to worry about pregnancy compromising a minimum-wage paying job. She can afford the material needs of a newborn, and won’t have to worry about finishing school, or finding a sitter so she can make it to her part-time job after school. I don’t ever want my daughters to think just because a celebrity does something, that means it’s alright for them to do it, too.

I do imagine that’s it’s next to impossible to maneuver the minefield of adolescence in the public eye without making some sort of slip. Do I think it should be acceptable, even embraced, that JLS is pregnant at sixteen? No. Do I think she should have sipped away in the night for an abortion? Of course not. She’s too well-known for any kind of adoption scenario, I would think. And remember her older sister Britney? Before the train wreck that became *her* life, do you remember when she was cute and young and adorable and dating Justin Timberlake and she went public with the announcement that she was a virgin and hoped to stay that way? Do you remember how people mocked that, and rolled their eyes, and made fun of her?

If you stand up for abstinence, people think you’re either ridiculous, or lying. And heaven forbid you make a public statement and then change your mind. Don’t have sex. If you have sex, use birth control. If you use birth control and it fails in some way, you’re condemned for being pregnant. And for having sex in the first place. But don’t act like you’re not having sex because no-body will believe you anyway. And let’s not even open up the can of worms that is the male-female double standard.

Truly, being a teenager is hard, hard work. I can only imagine how infinitely more difficult it is to do it as a celebrity. But you know what? These people have asked for their celebrity status, and in doing so, must accept that our children look up to them. So I wish they would behave in a way that makes them worthy.

And like Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.

53 comments:

kim-d said...

Here, here! I agree 100% with everything you said--and the stellar way in which you said it. With the way that things are going, we just can't be wishy-washy anymore, and political/public correctness be dammed, too. I, too, shudder at the thought of skankbag being First Husband. Oh, please, let it not be so. The whole public romance with celebrities/athletes...well, what you said. I think you should send a copy of your post to Nick, I really do!

Oh, and have a very Merry Christmas!

Meg from Americus said...

Well Said!!!

Dee said...

You think you said it all. AMEN
Have a Merry Christmas!

Renee said...

Amen, sister!

Vanessa said...

Perfectly stated. Two thumbs up!

Sarah said...

Amen and Amen. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%! Just had to have this same discussion this weekend about Zooey 101 with our 8 year old.

Cheryl
WR, GA

Kelly said...

Wow. I agree with you 200%!

Anonymous said...

AMEN!

Pam Earley said...

Amen, preach it sister!

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! Very well said Kristie

Have a very Merry Christmas

Jill from Missouri

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said. Why don't you forward that to Nickelodeon?

Anonymous said...

You go! I do agree...and as sick as I am of Scooby Doo and silly cartoons...I have total faith that neither Velma nor Daphne will not turn up pregnant and unwed. I am so happy to miss this entire subject with my kids at this stage of life! So bring on another dumb cartoon. :)Kim

Anonymous said...

AMEN to everything you said! I agree 100% (especially about our skankbag ex-pres) and just wish that these celebrities/politicians/athletes would see and accept their responsibility in being role models, whether they think they signed on for it or not. Merry Christmas!

Gayle in AL

Grandma J said...

I agree completely. I admire your courage. I know what it's like to be bashed for being so "narrow minded". Heck, I agree with Kim about watching Scooby Doo and other cartoons. As much as I like Sponge Bob, I wish I didn't have to see him in his briefs.

Kudos! Merry Christmas to the Escoes.

Tammie said...

I might step on toes with this one, but I personally believe that television shouldn't be used as a babysitting device, and those that do use it for that purpose probably don't care what their children watch and learn from it.

Zoey 101 has a rating of Y7. After reading the definition, it clearly states that younger children should probably not watch this if they have difficulties distinguishing between reality and fantasy.

And so I must go to my mother-in-law's house for Christmas...in Gloster, MS (AKA home of the "baby-daddy"). Maybe I should make a big banner to display across the road in the middle of town that says: "Welcome to Gloster...Home of Jamie Lynn's "Baby Daddy"! (And FYI,small town gossip is getting very juicy in this part of the country!)

By the way...have a safe and happy holiday season!! I'll miss your entries while I'm gone!

Anonymous said...

AMEN, SISTER!!!!


Wendy in Winder, GA

Gina Ice said...

Kristie, I do have to disagree with a lot of your comments. I believe that we are a Christian country of 'forgiving' and 'compassionate' people and that we don't 'overlook' bad deeds but actually can sympathize and forgive. When someone famous makes a mistake, it shows they are just like any normal human being who has found themselves in a terrible situation and used bad judement on their part. Yes, they should have higher standards than us, just like we want doctor's, nurse's, teacher's and anyone else in public service to have higher standards. But, they make mistakes too.

I don't like the idea that it is "okay" to be a terrible person as long as I don't know about it. Keeping things behind closed doors is not the solution either.

I'm not sure what the answer would be, as it is a problem we have had for ages. Just look at our founding forefathers or kings in England. I believe it just depends on the amount of forgiveness you are willing to express.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree 100%. Well said!!!!

-Nicole
Atlanta, GA

lizinsumner said...

Amen! To everything you said. All I have to say is, "DITTO"....and keep in mind, this opinion is coming from a "blue" state, not a "red" one. Kristie - we must be twins, separated somehow at birth! I'm with you, 100%. Thanks for having the guts to put yourself out there and say what, to me anyway, is the obvious. Merry Christmas!!

Mamaebeth said...

very nicely done. i agree with you about 90%, but really what's 10% between friends.

i do agree that celebrities should be held to a higher standard. on that point i totally agree. since DWTS has introduced me to Sabrina Bryan and the rest of the cheetah girls i have been very impressed with how they take their JOB as role models seriously.

Monica H said...

And this is why I didn't post about this topic. Because I knew you would do it and say everything I felt about it only better.

Have a Merry Christmas! Where's your Christmas letter? I'm anxious to read it :)

Lisa said...

Have a very merry Christmas Escoe's and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us throughout the year. Love and prayers to you all.

Anonymous said...

Exactly how I feel. I watched Zoey yesterday for the first time with my daughter, and I also thought about the others who work with her. They should keep their jobs and let the show go on without her. Not as a punishment, but for the same reasons you stated. BTW, I am now hooked on two blogs.

Wishing you and your family a Happy and Healthy Holiday.

Debbie in NY

cakeburnette said...

Beautifully put! You know, I think your point got missed by a commenter or two. What I took away from your post is the never-ending facination with celebrity crap. Not lack of forgiveness. How many times did Robert Downey Jr get arrested? (am I dating myself with that one?) Likewise, how many times did we have to see Britney's crotch (well, not me personally, but you know what I mean). As long as the public keeps buying those damn magazines and creating a consumer need for watching the stars and their outrageous, un-curbed, un-punished behavior, they'll continue acting like that. And sadly, our kids will continue to think that is "cool."

Vicki Lynn Pfiester said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. You're better with words than I am. You go girl!

Grandma J said...

I think what you were saying was misunderstood by a few. I didn't think you had a problem with forgiveness at all. If a doctor,lawyer or other professional makes a mistake, forgiveness doesn't change the fact that they might lose their license to practice their profession. If someone commits a horrendous crime like murder, they can be forgiven but they also suffer the consequences. I realize these are extreme examples, but a pregnant, unmarried 16 year old should not be on a children's show in the afternoon. And please, Nickelodeon, do not explain this to my grandchildren.

katy said...

I agree with everything you said. I do understand that JLS is just another teenager that messed up and I feel for her but there are consequences to those actions and hers should be that she is off of Nick for now. I would hope that Nick would take a stand about what kind of reputation they want to have.
I also agree with the whole White House thing. I have no idea how Hillary would do in the White house but the fact that she would be bringing Bill back to his favorite playground is more than I can take. I also feel like if she stood beside him through all of those scadals. there were numerous women, there can not be love and trust left in that relationship. She is staying with him for the political name...just my opinion.

debbie said...

Hi Kristie,
I guess I'm "wishy-washy" too, because I agree with all your points. However, it really is possible to have kids not watch Nic or Disney. My two kids (10 and 7) watch Cash Cab on Discovery, along with Man Vs. Wild. My DD was invited to a HSM party, but spent the movie doing crafts, since she doesn't know the characters it wasn't of interest to her. I imagine it helps that since I don't watch movies (if I sit still to watch one I fall asleep and drool!) we don't have a DVD player.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful, healthy New Year!
warmly,
Debbie E.
Peachtree City, GA

bebeboyz said...

Your letter should be published in every paper around the country. As a mother of 4, I am tired of having to explain teen pregnancy, drug use, children out of wedlock, drunk driving, etc, well before they should be hearing it (and really disgusted they have to hear about it at all) Excellent! I agree 100%~~Julie

Anonymous said...

Well, 17 paragraphs and one sentence later I say very well put! I agree 100% as did many, many others. And I am sure it will seem like extremism, but we do not have cable. And we live to tell about it. It can be done, but not for the weak of heart (which I am sometimes and have to go to my parents house and get a little t.v. in). Have a very Merry Oklahoma Christmas.
Tammy in Ohio

Jeanette in GA said...

You said it best, girlfriend.

MomWUx2 said...

Thank you, Kristie! Please consider forwarding this on to Nick...I agree that someone else or no one should play Zoey. They are choosing to be held at this higher standard and their are always consequences for our choices.

Anonymous said...

That was so well written. I hope you not only send it to Nick, but to every magazine and website that focuses on the lives of stars, athletes, and politicians. I'll happily send you a role of stamps to get you started!

Merry Christmas to all and thanks for the many hours of enjoyable reading.

A Fan (aka Dixie in CA)

Angie said...

AMEN!!! 100 % totally agree!

Lauren said...

Um, hmm. Do I dare? Maybe only with a flame-retardant suit?

Here goes. One, I can be as conservative as the next person, evidenced by the fact that I don't think my 7 and 4 year old are quite old enough for most of the Nickelodeon fare, so they have never heard of or seen Zoey 101. The teen pregnancy special sounds silly--not Nick's job--and I could see why having JLS off the show might make sense.

Now to the truly outrageous part of my comment: despite how much I shook my head over the sheer stupidity of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, for the most part, his years in the White House are the only ones in my memory as an adult that I felt proud to be American. I am so much more embarrassed and disillusioned by our current administration that I couldn't possibly list the ways here (though I am pretty sure Clinton never publicly declared that Nelson Mandela was dead...)

I'm not yet sure that I want Hillary Clinton for president (though I will happily enough vote for her if she is the Democratic candidate), but my reasons certainly don't include keeping the "skankbag" out of the White House.

I knew we had to diverge sometime Kristie! Merry Christmas, eh?!

Lauren

Anonymous said...

As a commercial break to your opinion poll pre Christmas Eve no less - flight of holiday thought -for today.....Just wanted to wish all of you a Happy - Healthy Holiday and the BEST of New Years!! XXOO- Randy

Anonymous said...

I think that THIS statement should hold true for the show also "Well, I don’t really care because I wouldn’t let my kids watch it anyway"....kids don't HAVE to watch it. I'm actually surprised that they're asking questions about her pregnancy anyway....curious as to how they found out.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Kristie! My kids are a little old for "Zoey", but other "role models" that they look up to have let me down as well. When this happens, I use it as a "teachable" moment and move on, but you are right...they should be held to a higher standard and live up to it!!
Lisa from Texas

Pam Doughty said...

Beautifully said, and I agree on many of your points. The only thing that stops me from 100% agreement is looking back at who I was at 20. Not at 16, because my parents wouldn't LET me do anything wild and crazy; but when I left home, all bets were off. I never gave one thought to how my actions then could impact my future, but I feel sure that, if I were to run for public office beyond local level now, SOMEONE would appear with skeletons that would put me six feet under.
Yes, I agree that the folks who sign on to public office, entertainment, and professional sports need to keep their noses clean, but there's a span of about 10 years (15-25) where the brain just can't keep up with the hormones very well at all. 50 years ago, it wasn't an issue; whether it was Babe Ruth or John F. Kennedy, the press left them alone, and there wasn't 24 hours of time to fill on all those cable channels. Now, any flaw or misstep hits the front page (so to speak), be it sooner or later.
So, I'm even more wishy-washy than you; I agree with you 100%, but then again.....
No matter; you said it perfectly and I DO think you should send it to Nick.
Merry Christmas... Santa's ON HIS WAY!!!

Anonymous said...

Amen, these celebrities, athletes, past president all think they are above the law, and above God, therefore, they don't have to have morals or be accountable for their actions. What a world we are bringing up our kids in! Let's bring back televison with morals and entertainment. It can be entertaining as well as have good morals.

Laurie said...

Well put!

Merry Christmas!

M, Ms. R, Mom, Auntie M, Marey said...

Everyone has a say in this and their own opinion BUT only a teacher sees how screwed up children of children really are. I have seen my share and it is a crime!

Anonymous said...

Celebrity athletes, tv stars, and all famous people - they're all human. Unfortuntely for the celebrities, when they make a mistake, it's splattered all over, and people judge them based on their mistakes. Arguably, they signed up for public scrutiny when they chose the lives they live. But they're human. And all humans make mistakes.

sms

Anonymous said...

You aren't wishy washy at all.
I pretty much share the same opinion. Of all of it, not just the recent JLS pregnancy.
Merry Christmas!
~Carolyn

scanmom said...

Kristie, I saw something today and knew I had to tell you, even tho we don't even know each other. They're building something by the Meijer by my house. Meijer is a grocery/everything else you might possibly need store in the Midwest. I've been wondering for weeks what they're building but by the time I pull into the parking lot and park my car and walk into the store, I forget to ask. So today, there's a sign up. Now keep in mind they show Sonic commercials in Michigan all the time but the closest one is 5 hours away in Ohio. THEY'RE BUILDING A SONIC 1/2 MILE FROM MY HOUSE. There go my diet plans for the new year!!!

Ellen

www.caringbridge.org/mi/sammijean

leeanne said...

I totally agree....you really hit the nail on the head. Well said!!!
I hope that your Christmas was happy and that the new year will be fantastic for all of you as you settle into your new lives in Oklahoma!

mom25in5 said...

One word...AMEN.

Happy Ho Ho Ho!!

P.S. As a Canadian living in the US I've never understood the "forgiveness" the President was and continues to be afforded by the public...maybe someone can explain that to me one day...:)

Patty House said...

You tell 'em, sista!
I agree with you 100%!!

I think I will just die if we have a First Husband...well, him anyway.

Anonymous said...

You go, Girl!

The whole world needs to read this.

Eloise said...

Bravo, Kristie!

Anonymous said...

Well said! and thats all I have to say about that also!

M

Mom on the Run said...

In recent days when I log in to your site I get the Dec. 24 post. Occassionaly I get your later posts, but most of the time I can only "see" the Dec. 24 post. Anyone else having this problem?