Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media Is Not the Answer

By Karen Sternheimer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Pop Culture Promiscuity
Sexualized Images and Reality

When Disney sensation Miley Cyrus, star of Hannah Montana, appeared in Vanity Fair in 2008, a firestorm of criticism erupted. The fifteen-year-old posed provocatively, wearing only a bedsheet in some of the photos. A year later, she performed at the Teen Choice Awards while dancing on a pole. Was she a bad role model for young girls, a young woman seeking to shed her Disney image, or both? Do representations of sexuality encourage teens to become sexually active?

We live in a time when virtually nothing is off-limits in pop culture, and the most private information about celebrities’ love lives becomes tabloid fodder. Many adults fear that sex is no longer a big deal to kids, and young teens are casually “hooking up” and “growing up faster than ever.” Books like Teaching True Love to a Sex-at-13-Generation suggest that today’s entire generation of kids is sexually active before high school. Their evidence? They look to the media: pop culture is full of sex, and therefore so must be kids.

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