Beyonce's "Single Ladies": There's a Right Way and a Wrong Way to Let Kids Do Pop Music
Listen; I'm not a prude or a saint. I occasionally swear in front of my kids. I let them listen to most "popular" music and answer their questions when they want to know what something means, because I think they're better off learning it from me than from their friends. My philosophy is that it's a losing game to try to shield them from suggestive lyrics, so instead I try to listen with (and to!) them and offer explanations alongside infrequent opinions. (Because sometimes I just have to say, "You know? I think that's kind of inappropriate. I'd rather you not sing along to this one.")
And put me down as loving Beyonce's Single Ladies, both for the catchy, take-no-prisoners beat of the original and the plethora of parodies it spawned for our enjoyment. I not only enjoyed the whole range of shoulda-put-a-ring-on-it mania, I let my kids watch the videos, too, because I think they're entertaining and generally kid-safe.
But. You knew there was a but coming, right?
Parents of the world, please take note, because I do my darndest not to get all judgy on a regular basis, but I am about to get extremely judgy because it needs to be said. Okay. Are you paying attention? Good.
Kids and Beyonce's Single Ladies, the You're Doing It Right Edition:
(You've all seen that one by now, right? It's adorable! It's age-appropriate! It's empowering and sends a great message!)
Kids and Beyonce's Single Ladies, the Oh My God, MY EYES, You're Doing It Wrong Wrong Wrong Edition:
I saw the above video today on Perez Hilton and just sat and sputtered at my screen for a while. How old do you think those girls are? 8? Maybe as old as 10? Maybe?
I'll tell you how old they are: They are not nearly old enough to be performing sexual gyrations in front of an audience. That's how old they are. Watching that video made me want to find every single one of the parents of those little girls and shake them until their teeth clattered. Because I do not care that they're amazing dancers (they are). I do not care that I find their outfits skimpy and inappropriate (I do, but I know in the dance/performance world they're pretty standard). I care that someone, a whole lot of someones, who are supposed to be shepherding these girls through childhood, thought it was "cute" or "funny" or "entertaining" to teach little girls how to act like coked-up strippers and then have them show off those skills in front of a huge audience. I care that this video is going viral, with half the viewers finding it hilarious and the other half calling the dancers prostitots.
I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to go watch the "Scholar Ladies" video again and cling to the hope that most children have intelligent role models who are allowing them to be smart and sassy without being too sexy, too soon. Because otherwise I am just going to sit here and wonder where in the world those girls' parents are, and just what the hell they were thinking.
BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir has to take a break and go weep for humanity, now. She blogs near-daily about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and posts all day long about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.