January 26, 2006

To A Child, There Are No "Strange, New Worlds"

pageant_victim.jpgAfter the Miss USA pageant, the flamers at Fark.com Googled up an old DT post about baby beauty pageants and creeped out, retouched glamour photos of innocent Southern children whose mothers won't face the reality that Designing Women is off the air.

As a result, I thought about revisiting the baby pageant subculture issue, especially since Little Miss Sunshine just got a sweet, sweet deal with unprecedented points on the backend at Sundance. But then I didn't. Just the quickest surf through pageanting sites [It's not just a verb, it's a way of life; one with 40 different words for "glitz," like eskimos have for snow.] got me really depressed. The kids are all so bright and shiny--some are nervous-looking, so eager to please. This utterly warped, psychotic world is a sheer, artificial construct imposed by their parents [and dredged out of their parents' deepest, unconscious private failures, I'd guess, but that's another story] but--and this is the important part--it's all those kids know.

To them, the world IS glitz and bronzer and smiling on cue and schlepping from one Howard Johnson's "ballroom" to another every weekend and praying you don't disappoint your mother who's sacrificing so much for you, right? Kid's don't "know" about the world, only what we tell and show them; to them, there is no "strange new world," is just IS. And especially for those first, crucial years, we are the lens through which they discover everything. It's an awesome responsibility that really freaks me out sometimes, especially when I read of a tiny kid dying of abuse in Yonkers--or when I see a child my daughter's age being contorted, Kitten Bonsai-style, into a Mini-me version of Delta Burke.

Having said all that, I wonder what my own blindspots are. What am I doing "for her good" that's inevitably warping her fragile little mind? As soon as she wakes up, for example, I'll show her this video, and it may inform her understanding of William Shatner. Forever. Can you imagine if this were the first thing you'd ever seen of him? Can you? No Kirk, no TJ Hooker, no Priceline, even? The mind reels. And then there's this David Hasselhoff clip. Same deal. No Michael Knight, no Mitch Bucchanan, no "famous in Germany." [well, maybe a bit of that last one.] And yet, I'm totally cool with showing them to her. But still, in the back of my mind, I wonder...


William Shatner "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" [google video via kottke]
"I'm Hooked On A Feeling" by David Hasselhoff [youtube via robotwisdom]


Eskimo words for "snow" [wikipedia]

[yeah, I know, it was just for dramatic effect. But there are at least four distinct levels/kinds of "glitz" that I could spot within 5 minutes. -ed.]

My first exposure to William Shatner's LSD, er, I mean LitSwD, was my friends recording of Howard Stern making fun of it.

Maybe I should let my daughter listen to that?

[uhhh, maybe I wasn't making my point clear... -ed.]

uh. wow.
i think i need to really meet Mr. Hasselhof now.
Just to say I have.

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