Has The O.C. gone too far?
Just last week on American Idol there was a 16-year-old girl, Crystal Parizanski, who looked so absolutely ridiculous that Simon actually called her mother into the room to ask her if she was "proud" of the way her daughter looked. Of course, when the mother walked in, to no one's shock but the judges, it was very apparent the apple had not fallen far from the tree. Crystal's mother's skirt was shorter than most of the contestants, her heels looked like they had walked off of a strip club's stage, and she had enough Botox in her face to stop a charging rhino. This is just one of many examples; within the past couple of years, Abercrombie & Fitch (the hip line for wannabes) came under fire for producing and marketing a line of suggestive thongs in children's sizes. So my question for today is this: where does a cultural phenomenon's responsibility end?
There's no denying that TV influences everything around us. Whether we like it or not (or it's us or the world around
us), the most popular shows' impact can be seen everywhere. Who didn't know a girl with "The Rachel" haircut
in the past 10 years? There are also very few shows that are as popular with the "impressionable" crowd as
The O.C., and this is where my problem lies.
Since The O.C.'s winter break last November, we've been getting flooded with previews and teases of the return of Kaitlin Cooper, Marissa's younger sister. Jimmy and Julie Cooper shunted her off to boarding school in the first season so they had one less thing to worry about. The actress who played her was a redheaded 10 year-old, but with Kaitlin's return came a new actress: fourteen-year-old Willa Holland. While there's no denying Ms. Holland is a very cute girl who will, I'm sure, grow up to be gorgeous, she's just that - a girl. Yet FOX has insisted on promoting her as a sex icon in their ads. Whether they're scenes of her stripping and running into the ocean in her underwear, or of her "prowling" and hitting on every male cast member, they're all tasteless.
Now, I'm not playing the "holier than thou" card, or being completely naive; we all knew who the "hot girls and guys" were even when we were in grade school. Plus, the dream of being all grown up is definitely a large part of that pre-adult era The O.C. is exploring. We all fantasized about what we would be like and do when we were adults. Willa apparently thinks she's already there, something that Fox categorically denies. That said, there's better "dreams" to give the masses of underage viewers than yet another wannabe shell. The responsibility and weight of this matter should fall solely on the network's shoulders though. It's not like I (or anyone should for that matter) expect epic, moving shows on the network. I mean come on, they're the home of Married with Children and Stacked, among other gems, but I still held hope for some standards from them. I'd like to think that they'd have done their part to calm this disturbing trend of "plasticization," not promote it, but that's something they were just not interested in. Needless to say, I'm sorely disappointed in FOX and have even had troubles watching The O.C. because of it, and there's a pretty good chance they've lost me completely as a viewer.
Keep in mind, these are just my ramblings about something I feel very strongly about (I have a new god-daughter coming along soon that I have to freak out over). You may agree with me, or think I'm an over-reacting prude, but I have a stage I can deliver my sermon from and thought I'd use it. Let me know what you think.