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Friday, June 8, 2007

Sociological Implications of Hero Worship

Were you watching the television today in America?

With all of the arguments and the back-and-forth between "experts" and factions over whether or not celebrities, movies, music, video games, and similar entertainment, have an effect on kids and their behavior, I think the media coverage of Paris Hilton's non-appearance in court today proves -- beyond the shadow of any doubt -- that America is a celebrity-obsessed culture.   This being the case, how is it that anyone could honestly suggest that these things have no effect on society, in general, and children, specifically?

Here we, as the adults, are glued to our TVs, watching to see if this spoiled little brat is going to even bother to come out of her mansion which is now surrounded by media, protesters, onlookers, police, and paparazzi.  We are so engrossed with celebrity and the goings-on of these people that we've put our entire day on hold to see how this plays out, yet we insist that our children are not affected by these very same things.

Now I'm not suggesting that everyone gets a free pass -- that we blame the media for every bad social thing that occurs or every bad person that loses his shit and goes on a killing spree -- but I am insisting that this sort of celebrity obsession and focus on media, in general, definitely plays a part in our children's lives because it plays such a big part in all of ours.

Children are extremely impressionable and not just in that ephemeral, emotional sort of way; their brains are not fully-developed, their personalities are not fully actualized, and they look to us (adults) to see how we behave and what we think in order to piece these facets of their being together.

In this specific case, there are all sorts of other factors in play: The LA police refused to comply with the judge's orders -- not once, but twice!  Children -- hell, even we adults! -- do not understand that this is what we call "politics" and that these are very real, very corrupt, very contentious, very celebrity-obsessed individuals who comprise these forces; children see the police as a singular entity and the judge as a fuzzy sort of higher authority figure.  All they understand from all of this is that Paris Hilton is more important than the indefinable authority forces who are trying to oppress her.

These things have an affect.

You cannot discount society as an individual when assigning blame.  The American "cowboy" stance against this -- the "Don't blame society" argument -- is exactly why these problems persist.  Of course society bears some of the responsibility here: Children learn from adults and adapt to their environment.

This specifically applies to Atheists and Agnostics, who tend to be the ones who argue that organisms adapt to their environment by way of Evolution, but just as often disregard the role society plays in development.

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