Grade-school girls, grown-up gossip

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Grade-school girls, grown-up gossip



[url=]An interesting article on how girls' sense of morality is shaped from a very young age by celebrity gossip rags.[/url]


The prevailing wisdom is that exposure to vast amounts of gossip, particularly about Hollywood’s so-called bad girls — Ms. Hilton, Ms. Spears and Lindsay Lohan, to name the most frequently chastised — is leading America’s impressionable 8-to-12-year-old girls into the gutter. But the reality is more complex.

In interviews, tweens tend to be highly judgmental of the much-publicized antics, turning them into age-appropriate morality tales that would make their parents proud and bring comfort to those who fear the next generation will be made up of pantyless party girls known more for their D.W.I.s than their G.P.A.s.

Ms. Hilton, said Jamie Barton, 10, of Mobile, Ala.: “spends all this time acting like everyone else doesn’t mean anything. It’s just me, me, me.”

Said Diamond Martin, 12, of Parlin, N.J.: “I don’t see her as a role model. I’m not sure what she’s really ever done, actually.”

That tweens are not traipsing after the drunken pied pipers who erupt in the gossip headlines is not surprising to child behavior experts.

“I would be shocked if they did,” said Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams, a professor and chairman of the human development department at Cornell University. After all, he said, 8- to 12-year-olds are by and large “really heavily under the influence of their parents.”

That does not mean, though, that gossip culture is harmless. “There may be a delayed effect,” said Dr. Richard Gallagher, the director of the Parenting Institute at the Child Study Center of New York University. “When kids know that some behavior is possible and that it doesn’t lead to total ruination of your life, they may, as they get older, be willing to entertain that.”

I'm not sure what's worse - the idea that girls might emulate these stars, or that they will use these stars' lives as cautionary tales for prissy values.

What I mean is this: when I was in school, girls were extremely judgmental, and all too easily labelled each other sluts, etc. There were hard and fast rules for dating, for pretty much everything, and it really seems to me to make life a misery. People in this article seem to be saying that it's a good thing that these celebrities are serving as a "bad example" for girls to be "against". I'm not so sure.

I personally would rather girls be LESS judgemental, not more. I'd rather see girls NOT ostracize and talk behind the backs of other girls they deem to be "sluts" or "out of style" or whatever. Reading their comments in this article makes me think that this is just one big reinforcement for that sort of behaviour.

Polly B Polly B's picture


But, said Ms. Schulz, when they are teenagers, “every kid is trying to have a Paris Hilton kind of night at their prom.”

And that is exactly what some adults fear.

I am not sure what she's getting at here. What is a Paris Hilton kind of night?

And you're right Michelle, I think if I heard my daughter (she's a tween) speaking so judgementally about anyone, I wouldn't be so impressed. I just wish there was some way to get the kids to just plain ignore the celebs, or regard them as just another breathing body.

Jacob Two-Two


What is a Paris Hilton kind of night?

Posting a sex video on the internet? Or maybe just wearing a lot of pink.

Celebrity gossip tends to irritate me from time to time, but I never think of it as harmful. When I was a kid, it was the neighbourhood kids that we gossiped about, and the antics were identical to all the pop tart shenanigans. Steven crashed his parent's car. Jenny was caught sucking Wade's dick behind the soccer field. Rachel got so drunk she had to be dragged home by three of her friends, two of whom got covered in puke.

Most of these people I had never met, so they might as well have been celebrities for all it mattered to me. The important thing was the moral judgments you did or didn't cast on the behaviour itself, which to a large extent is what gossip, celebrity or otherwise, is all about. In the end, it doesn't even matter if the stories are real or made up. Gossip presents you with scenarios and encourages you to decide if you'll sympathise or condemn. In this way your moral values begin forming, prior to actually getting into similar situations yourself, which usually requires serious re-evaluation of your hasty judgments.

I've gone through many judgmental periods in my life, and it's been a long process of realising when I was being a moralising prick, and when I was making a legitimate moral stand. I daresay I'm still in that process. I think those times I was a prick were a necessary part of my moral evolution. First, learning to condemn behaviour at all, and then learning what is really worth condemning. Gossip is a natural part of that journey.

It might sound pretentious, but I imagine that there's an evolution that happens in our moral judgments. People obsess over inconsequential things, because they are safe and light and don't carry the weight of real responsibility, and they then take the lessons they've learned and start to apply them to things that do matter, like the stuff that we discuss here (sometimes). It's like training wheels for your ethics.

Pride for Red D...

those trashy gossip rags tend to make their bread and butter by making harsh judgements about celebrity's lives- so I agree with the assessment that these this kind of gossip probably


that they will use these stars' lives as cautionary tales for prissy values.

whether its on a conscious level or not.