Friday, August 30, 2013

Turn off TV star's influence once the show's over

From today's Briefing:

Early this summer at the neighborhood pool, a group of moms were talking about a TV show I’d never watched. Or even heard of.
They were describing episodes with the same familiar affection I associate with the heyday of Seinfeld orFriends.
“I’ll even catch myself watching it when the kids aren’t home,” one mom confessed.
That evening at dinner, I asked the kids if they had heard of this apparently hilarious, multigenerational show.
They answered with a hopeful blend of disbelief and relief.
Good Luck Charlie? Of course we’ve heard of it! We’ve watched it at Grandma’s.”
There was a pause. They stared at me, trying to discern if I was simply curious or if there was a more practical proposal to come.
They could stand the suspense no more.
“Can we watch it?”
And that launched the beginning of our Disney Channel summer.
I recorded episodes of some seemingly harmless sitcoms and let Cooper and Katie watch a show or two a day.
Austin and Ally, Jessie and, yes, Teddy, Amy, Gabe, Bob, P.J. and Charlie have all been guests in our home. They were invited — and they are easily dismissed.
That’s the great thing about television: You can turn it off just as easily as you turn it on. And now that summer is over and our evenings are filled with homework, practices, reading and family time, we’re waving goodbye and escorting these Disney Channel guests out the door. Perhaps we’ll meet again in June.
We’re bidding adieu before we even know their real names. You see, I don’t want my kids attached to young actors or young singers — or older ones for that matter. I can tolerate a mild-mannered, semi-mindless sitcom every now and then, but I don’t condone idolizing the players.
How many times have we Americans been outraged by the antics of a maturing child star?
The relationship starts out so promising. We embrace the cute, precocious, slightly sassy — but-not-over-the-top — ingénue. We fawn over her growing collection of work.
We applaud her diversification — she’s an actor and a singer and a dancer! We buy licensed merchandise. We read the ghostwritten autobiography.
We tell ourselves, “Now, there’s a girl my own daughter can look up to.”
And then, faster than you can say Britney-Spears- Lindsay-Lohan-Vanessa- Hudgens, it all falls apart, and we exclaim, “Oh, no! But what about the children?”
The Damm household didn’t watch the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night. My children don’t even know what MTV is because I never invited it into our home.
Children don’t need to watch reality shows or music videos (though I’m not sure those are even on MTV these days).
They vaguely know that Miley Cyrus was “that Hannah Montana person,” but they couldn’t pick her out of a lineup. Because I never invited Miley Cyrus into our home.
They don’t know that she made a fool of herself onstage, dressed in next-to-nothing to dance in the most obnoxiously provocative fashion.
So, while I’m dispirited by her platform, troubled by her desperate stunt and concerned about young women who might admire her disturbing choices, I’m not worried about the two people I’m responsible for.
Miley’s gyrating fall from grace — what little she had left — doesn’t disappoint us personally because we were never personally invested in her.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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