A wide spot in my imagination.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

America's Got...Kids Growing Up Too Fast?

Reality TV shows are good summer entertainment, but they're not designed to be places of deep thought. And the "judges" on this summer's "America's Got Talent" don't pretend to be Plato, Aristotle and the like. But last night, the reality show's three judges -- Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel engaged in a little philosophical back and forth that's worth thinking about.

In case you've never seen the show, it features acts of all sorts (jugglers, singers, harmonica payers and the like) doing their thing in 90 seconds, all with the hopes of winning a big cash prize. Last night, twelve acts pranced onto the small screens of America's living room.

One of those acts featured two twelve year-old ballroom dancers. They were fast, sparkling, smiley and exceedingly talented. My year of Middle School cotillion lessons does not qualify me as a ballroom dance expert, but what the kids did was impressive and old-looking.

It's the old-looking that caught the judges' attention. One of the judges (Piers, I think) said the kids looked 25. Another of the judges (Howie, I think) picked up on that and said that 12 year- olds dancing like adults looked "creepy." And for a brief moment, the judges had a sort of philosophical discussion about age-appropriateness. Then -- poof! -- it was time for an advertisement break, and we Americans shifted out attention to what we do best: consumerism.

Their conversation was nothing new, but it's worth thinking about. Are kids growing up too fast? Do you they act older than their years? I think their the answer to both questions is often, Yes, and I don't think the consequences will be good.

Also on the show last night was a ten or eleven-year old rapper singing a love song. Does a child that age even understand love? Are audiences doing him any favor by applauding his imitation of adulthood? Another act (a troop of pre-teen or tween girls) did a hip-hop dance routine. Again, good dancing. It was their attitude that worried me: they were huffy, sultry, mean-looking. Is that what we expect/want/need from youngsters?

I know that styles change. And "style" can mean attitude, language, facial expressions, mannerisms and the like. And I recognize that as an over forty year old, I'm now firmly in the group that can't be trusted, headed toward stodgy-ism.

I don't think I'm trying to squelch talent, individualism or generational differences. But when hormones in milk are advancing the starting age for little girls' periods and even reality TV show judges are wondering about children posing as adults, maybe this is something we should consider.

1 comment:

  1. Among my observations on this phenomenon, I offer this "kid statement" that causes my voice to mutter at the tv screen (in true curmudgeon style):
    Kid:"This is what I have wanted to do my whole life."
    Me:"Bless your heart,what you mean is I want to be famous at 12 or 18."