Magazine article Tikkun

Susan Linn

Magazine article Tikkun

Susan Linn

Article excerpt

Susan Linn is a practicing psychologist at the Judge Baker Children's Center and Harvard Medical School, the author of Consuming Kids, and the co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

Spiritual progressives need to make clear that although we can support sex education in the schools, that has nothing to do with the sexuality sold to our kids on television and in their corporate-sponsored music, movies, and video games. What they are learning from these media is not about real sex, but rather about a commodity we can call sex/violence and sex/power.

And yet, it is only the Religious Right that consistently speaks out against the way that corporations are using sex to reach kids through the media.

As far as I'm concerned, artists can create anything they want. I support the First Amendment. I fervently believe in it; I just don't think they should market it to children. And I think we need to make that distinction. Around 6.6 million two-to-eleven year-olds and 7.3 million twelve-to-seventeen year-olds watched Justin Timberlake rip open Janet Jackson's blouse. A white man ripping off the blouse of a black woman--that was obscene for both its racist and its sexist connotations. And who responded? The Right Wing. Focus on the Family got 60,000 people to call the FCC. But where were we and other progressives? We should have been calling and complaining about that and the fact that the commercials run during the Super Bowl were obscene as well. That should have been our voice.

A Spiritual-Progressive vision of childhood should call for a commercial-free childhood. When the Religious Right was up in arms accusing Sponge Bob Square Pants of being gay, progressives all over the country leaped to the little yellow sponge's side. Sponge Bob Square Pants is innocent; Sponge Bob Square Pants is wonderful; there is nothing wrong with Sponge Bob. So, as this argument was going on, there was the Right, and there was the Left. I was in my office with my head in my hands saying this is the wrong argument. There is something wrong with Sponge Bob Square Pants. Just as there was something wrong with Tinky Winky. But it's not their sexual orientation, or lack of it. It's the fact that they are corporate tools to sell junk to children. When childhood obesity is a major national problem, isn't it obscene to use Sponge Bob Square Pants to sell Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? …

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