zen.org Communal Weblog

January 19, 2006

What did you expect?

Filed under: — alice @ 02:31 IST

With the kind permission of children’s advocate and former child acting star Paul Petersen, following is an Editorial written last June by Mr. Petersen, Founder and President of A Minor Consideration. Formed more than a decade ago, the Non-Profit exists to help young performers and their parents literally survive the stresses, pitfalls and potentially devastating effects of a childhood which, for want better words, is quite abnormal.

Much of the group’s work is devoted family education and the development of solid parenting skills — and the points they raise about the dangers of pushing children too quickly into the adult world are as applicable to kids in all sorts of other situations as they are to the young artists. It is for that reason that I asked for and received the go-ahead to share this Editorial with all of you. Both Mr. Petersen and I would be very grateful for any comments you’d be willing to add. TIA 🙂

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
by Paul Petersen

In advance of the Michael Jackson verdict I think the time is right to weigh in on the role our culture has played in the growth and development of “the Child Star Syndrome” in all its distasteful manifestations.

For many years A Minor Consideration was a highly visible component in the Press coverage every time a former child star got in trouble. In fact, no less than Time Magazine called me “the predatory spokesman for kid actors.” It was a ghoulish pursuit, I grant you, but there was a public argument to win…and I believe we have accomplished that early goal of educating America to the fact that all was not well in the world of celebrity children. There is no longer any question in the public’s mind that early fame has long-term consequences.

Life in “the public eye” has an impact, and not just on the person who must suffer the effects of a loss of privacy. Fame also distorts the perceptions of those who for better or worse make up the adoring public. People’s behaviour is altered when they come face to face with a celebrity of any age. The person who wears the public badge is also affected by his or her Fame in ways both subtle and profound.

In short, the ordinary awareness of reality goes out the window in the face of Celebrity. Long-held societal rules are bent beyond recognition when even the youngest celebrity is involved. Worse, what we know of character development is suspended in the face of Fame.

Think of Drew Barrymore being allowed into raging nightclubs at age ten. Think of Michael Jackson working seven-day weeks on the road without relief for nearly two decades. Remember Danny Almonte, the Little League pitcher who, at fourteen, cheated his way into the World Series with the knowing support of an entire community? Close your eyes and picture Jon Benet Ramsey. Who allowed these and other abuses but us?

In Catholic doctrine, Silence is Acceptance. The absurdity of a six year-old saying “I always wanted to be in Show Business” is manifestly apparent if you would just step back and consider the situation. When you distort a person’s childhood you distort the resultant adult. It’s axiomatic. We are all, each of us, the product of our younger years, and every day we live is connected to the past.

It is a fact of life that each of us is capable of overcoming our past. With the dawn of every day it is within our capacity as thinking, reasoning beings to start fresh…to put even the worst abuses behind us…to forego the consequences of being forced to eat those fabled “green beans.”

It helps immeasurably if there is a support group around us to solidify these changes…or a group of uncompromised friends who can serve as our Fire Alarms when things start to get hot.

Our contemporary culture is an ocean of influences that is constantly bathing us in behavior modifying pressures, and when we ignore the obvious negative impacts delivered like hammer blows on our children we do so at our own peril. It’s the future you’re trifling with.

Rap Music is an example. Parental misconduct at sporting events involving young athletes is another. Elevating a young person to celebrity status for their misdeeds is going to have consequences, and not just on that individual, but on all those who remain mute. Excusing misconduct by anyone involved with children is poisoning our future.

Robert Blake’s trial and the subsequent circus surrounding Michael Jackson’s on-going tribulations have created a dilemma for many people who have themselves been through this process, even as we witnessed the young tennis star, Mary Pierce, re-emerge from her demon-infested past at the French Open. News of Danny Bonaduce’s return to Rehab came at the same time the young television star of “Desperate Housewives” is arrested on a New York street for smoking a joint by an undercover, star-struck policeman who really just wanted to know how the season’s finale turned out.

And we blame the victim, forgetting that we played a role in their unusual development.

What did you expect?

What, exactly, do you expect of children who are asked to excel scholastically when we are sending them to schools without paper and books…whose entrances are guarded by metal detectors…and where there is no toilet paper in the bathrooms?

How many times can you turn a blind eye on conduct you know to be detrimental before the consequences affect you?

What did you think Michael Jackson would become as we all stood by and demanded performance excellence as we mutely accepted the troubling plastic surgery, and permitted unescorted children to attend sleepovers at Neverland Ranch?

Where were the whistle-blowers? At what point are we called to break the glass on the Fire Alarm?

If you doubt for an instant that fame, even fleeting fame doesn’t have an impact, turn on any televised sporting event and watch what happens the moment the cameras are turned on the fans in the stands. Do they know they’re being watched? Does their behavior suddenly change?

Children all over this world are going to work instead of to school. Parents are paying hard-earned money for video games that are absolutely ghastly in their violence and disrespect of women. Movies that employ young performers to act out the fantasies of adults who should know better litter the media landscape, even as advertisers market harmful if not useless products to an ever-younger consumer base.

I am reminded of my Grandpa Burr who was always consistent in his belief that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

“Every time you point a finger at someone else,” he told me, “remember that four fingers are pointing back at you.”

So I’ll close with the same question that began this essay on the predicament faced by celebrities who came to fame too early to resist its blandishments and now find themselves in trouble with the law or who are living lives of not-so-quiet desperation:

“What did you expect?”

PP on June 7th 2005

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January 18, 2006

Blog Awards Sponsorship

Filed under: — elana @ 15:19 IST

Damien is looking for corporate sponsorship of categories for the Irish Blog Awards. If you are with a company that would be interested in sponsoring, please contact him.

irishblogs, damien, categories, sponsorship

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Mobiles

Filed under: — elana @ 11:13 IST

Hubby’s gonna kill me, cause I’m being such a waffler on my new [tag]mobile[/tag].

I don’t like the Moto interface that I have now. I use the Voda webtext more than anything, cause I don’t think the Moto that intuituve. So I’m looking at new phones (and a new carrier, JEEZ Voda is expensive!)

The two phones I’m looking at are the Nokia 6230i and the Sony Ericsson W800i. Why am I torn? Here’s why:

Nokia: Love the interface. Everyone knows it. Good cam, good phone. Battery life *sucks*, from what I’ve heard. Screen is a little small, and only okay resolution.

SonyEricsson: Supposedly the best phone out there right now. The cam is freaking 2mp! The MP3 player in it isn’t the big deal for me. The screen is apparently awesome. Battery life is amazing (9 hours talk, I think, or standby…whichever, it’s double the Nokia). The interface tho…I only played with a SE interface for about 2 minutes, and I don’t know if I like it or not.

My problems are thus: If the interface is the thing, why not go with the Nokia? Cause the SE is apparently the better phone! And the battery is better. But on the Nokia, the battery life thing can be fixed (a little) by a sw upgrade, apparently. (And the shop guy said his goes a couple days without a charge.) And I like the interface.

So I’m torn. ALL OPINIONS WELCOME, please!!!!

[tags]nokia,ireland,sonyericsson[/tags]

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January 17, 2006

Would you please stop wining?

Filed under: — brendan @ 12:06 IST

It was just past 8pm, and I went into the kitchen with P following close behind. Next to the sink was our wine decanter, almost empty of its well-aired bottle of 1997 Château Musar, a truly gorgeous red wine made in Lebanon. As I set my glass down on the counter, P’s voice spoke up behind me.

“You have to finish that,” he instructed. As I turned around, the expression on his face made it clear I shouldn’t question this.

Trying my luck, I asked, “Why?”

“So you can grow big and strong,” he said, then paused for a moment, choosing his next words carefully. “So you can run.”

“Run? Where?” I asked, puzzled.

He gave me his family’s patented eye-roll of contempt and replied, “To the park, Dad.” Oh.

Putting the remainder of the wine into my glass, I asked,”Would you like to taste it?”

My sommelier gave it a gentle sip. “Yuck!” he proclaimed, his face scrunched up like he’d found red wine vinegar. “The rest is for you.”

I just looked at him for a moment, trying to hide my smile.

“Really,” he insisted. Nodding with a brief “yes,” he dismissed me and returned to the livingroom.

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January 16, 2006

Futile Blogs

Filed under: — Sven @ 14:41 IST

Last Sunday’s Zippy really struck a cord.

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Singing

Filed under: — elana @ 13:51 IST

What? No, of course we can write blog posts not relating to our child. Of *course* we can.

So P was singing just now. Bob The Builder. Playing the guitar that Jean let him have (oh, I owe you one for *that*). And it’s cute and all. But this morning, he’s singing Wake Me Up When September Ends…, which I think is classic, cause I want my kid listening to some alternative stuff, and why not start with Green Day (tho are they still punkish?). But he knew the words. Like, almost all of them.

Maybe he’ll be musical like his dad (and completely unlike his mom, which would rock.)

[tags]P music Irishblogs[/tags]

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Quatre meme

Filed under: — elana @ 10:40 IST

Let’s all thank Damien for tagging me, shall we?

On to the meme…

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:

Dishwasher
Costume assistant on a soft porn
Production Assistant
Teacher

Four movies you could watch over and over:

Heathers
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Sixteen Candles
Serenity

Four places you’ve lived:
Maine
Massachusetts
Pennsylvania
California

Four TV shows you love to watch:

Firefly
Grey’s Anatomy
Sports Night
Gilmore Girls

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
Hawaii
Greece
Jamaica
Copenhagen

Four websites you visit daily:
SFChronicle
Slashdot
Flist at Livejournal
LeinsterFreecycle

Four of your favorite foods:

Sushi
Rare roast beef with horseradish sauce
Tea
Sourdough bread

Four places you’d rather be:
Asleep in bed
Warm beach…anywhere
Ikea, with a credit card
Watching a movie

Four people to annoy with another annoying meme.
Sven
molly_girl
mobilemum
gurlcooties

[tags]Irishblogs meme livejournal damien[/tags]

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Ride of the Valkyries

Filed under: — brendan @ 09:16 IST

This weekend I watched a beautiful dance making its own music and moving in perfect harmony. All of it happened in a clean and healthy green park in Ireland with the rich blue of Dublin Bay as its backdrop. Our four year-old son P was one of the performers proudly sitting astride his bicycle.

We gave it to him for his birthday last month. He’d been using a tricycle for a long time, but really enjoyed a “grown-up” bike (with training wheels) when we were in the US. It seemed to make sense for him to have something similar in Ireland, since he’d pretty much lost interest in using his ever-shrinking tricycle. He’d ridden on it a few times, but not for very long.

About a week ago he took a turn on the corner too sharply and fell off. Despite my efforts, he refused to get back on and instead chose to push the bike for the rest of the time. I didn’t know what to expect.

On Saturday we spent a good two hours over in the park. It gave me lots of free exercise trying to keep up and let P increase his confidence as a bike-rider. Plenty of other kids around the park with bicycles made him feel driven to take part. While he insisted he only wanted to push his bike around, soon enough he was again willing to sit on the seat and pedal himself along.

P caught sight of one boy near his own age on a bike quite like his: flame red, same tires, same training wheels. Turning around, P made a point of riding by him a couple of times. Rider #2 did the same sort of exercise, driving in a wide loop along the different walking areas to reach a common point. On a third pass, P (now Rider #1) used a thumb to make his bicycle bell ring out: brrrring, brrrring. His compatriot quickly responded with his own: brrrring. Both boys got silly grins on their faces as they spread further apart.

They raced around the park for a good hour like this, but none of the movements were truly random. Instead, they took the form of an intricately coordinated exercise using a pattern of signals and movements they both understood (but, as I will only continue to learn as he grows older, I could only begin to grasp it).

At one point they rode next to each other down one of the wider paths. I immediately had a flashback to when I was about 10 years old. John Starkey and I were Ponch and Jon from the television show, CHiPs, racing our bikes up and down the “old road”, a stretch of aging tarmac through our really small Maine town. I still hold those memories with great fondness, and can’t wait to see P have the same sort of fun with friends he’s still yet to meet.

The two professional bicyclists did a wide circle together around one of the larger water fountains, followed by a perfectly executed merge of paths on the other side. Separating down other paths, each looking back with curiosity as though asking, Where are you going? As they swung around to head up a path, some sort of signal was exchanged. The agreement was to park by a small step that goes up onto a raised bit of grass. Each dismounted and began to check his gears, make sure chains were tight, and check the tires for air.

Satisfied their pit-stop was a success, they mounted their hogs and continued the journey across the park. I expected them to call out to each other over the noise of their engines in a new version of Easy Rider. Away they went, their bikes not too far away for me to hear periodic laughter and calls of vroom, vroom.

Finally, the performance had to finish. P’s new friend went back to the dad who’d also been in the background, waiting patiently on a bench and watching the exchange. With a comfortable nod and smile across the distance, the other father and I acknowledged our small role in what our children had just completed.

As he saw his playmate leaving, P looked a little disappointed that the fun was over. But it didn’t stop him—we were there for another half-hour before finally going home ourselves.

When we’d parked his bike back at our house and were inside taking off our jackets, I asked P if he enjoyed all of his biking today.

“Yup!” he shot right back, his beautiful eyes glowing brightly. “And Dad, thanks for giving me the bike for my birthday. I really like it!”

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January 15, 2006

Unhappy with the way your country runs?

Filed under: — elana @ 12:08 IST

It’s time to walk away from that dirty bus station bathroom. Leave the pimp behind.

Brilliant.

Thanks Feithy.

[tags]Mediagirl, Feith, politics[/tags]

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January 13, 2006

Data Retention in EU

Filed under: — elana @ 14:27 IST

Karlin Lillington, a tech writer based in Dublin and one of the best in Ireland, wrote an article in the Irish Times about the crappy way the EU rushed through the data retention scheme and how ultimately embarassing it is for all of us. Luckily, since the IT is a pay site, Karlin posted it to her blog as well. Good on ya. Someone that the gov might actually listen to, considering they’re not listening to the average Joe on this one.

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