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After GQ's Glee photos and Miley Cyrus's new video, a plea

In light of the hubbub surrounding the GQ Glee photoshoot and the recent Miley Cyrus video, I want to put in a plea to today's child stars.

Don't grow up.

I don't know about this adulthood thing, but it seems wrong. And it's probably unnatural. I want us to revert to the decency and modesty of our country's founding days, that blissful time when, if you were behaving sexually at age fourteen, it meant that you were probably married to a wealthy farmer twice your age.

So if you were thinking of growing up, of doing anything remotely sexualized in the public eye, you can forget it. Think what you stand to gain if you just stop where you are!

Look at Michael Jackson. He never grew up, and everyone loves him! Barack Obama, however, is an adult, and nobody shows any dedication to him, except when they write books about how hungry and jobless they are and dedicate them "To Barack Obama, Whose Fault I Feel As Though This Must Be, Somehow."

"But Michael had other problems," you say? Well, look at Peter Pan. He was fine! They based a musical on his life. They never do that unless they believe that your life has been a success in some way -- look at Evita, Jesus Christ (Superstar) and Cats.

And consider Britney Spears. She grew up, and for a period of time, she was bald.

We're not asking too much, young stars. Just find the secret to eternal youth, or vanish mysteriously, or stop bothering us. Look at the Olsen Twins. Do you know how popular they would be if they were still tiny, blonde people? That slowed-down video of their childish antics has been viewed over 100,000 times. Now they're older, and sometimes they get mistaken for La Llorona, a weeping female ghost from Mexican folklore. Children, slowed down! Girl, Interrupted! That's the sort of thing people prefer.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, and I thought as a child. But when I grew up, people expected me to put aside childish ways. This made it impossible for me to do the simple things our culture expects, such as appearing on reality TV shows or getting really excited about my Halloween costume choices, or appearing on a reality TV show about how excited I was about my Halloween costume choices. Now, people are so desperate to recapture their youth that law enforcement officers sometimes go into online chatrooms and impersonate fourteen year-olds for hours at a time.

I hear you say, "Those Glee kids aren't kids! They're just playing them on TV! Cory Monteith used to steal car stereos!" That just shows what you know. For most of America, actors are indistinguishable from the characters they play on TV. This made life very complicated for the cast of that gritty prison drama, Oz, because I kept reporting them to the authorities during breaks from filming!

It's not my job to instill values in my children! I have raised my children to be mindless automatons who blindly follow the examples of their favorite stars! I have been reading them GQ since they were three -- what kind of gentlemen's magazine doesn't monitor its content to keep it appropriate for three year-olds? Now all my toddlers want bikini waxes! I'm canceling that subscription!

What do you mean, "It's impossible to stop aging, and you have to do the best you can? Sure, the crotch shots in the Glee photos were gratuitous, but really, they're adults, and they shouldn't be conflated with their characters, and, besides, the Miley Cyrus video wasn't that bad?" Whose side are you on?

Don't you know that "youth is the only thing worth having"? That's what Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray. It's true.

And it worked out so well for Dorian!

By Alexandra Petri  | October 21, 2010; 5:18 PM ET
Categories:  Petri  | Tags:  Miley Cyrus  
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I really enjoyed your article. It's true that parents are desperately trying to protect their children from growing up too soon instead of concentrating their attention on preparing them for the real world so that they'll be able to take care of themselves, no matter what gets thrown at them. In the 1920s, Jazz was the culprit, in the 1950s it was Elvis, and now this. If parents don't want their children seeing these images, then they shouldn't allow them on GQ's website or to pick up the magazine, or maybe they should just never allow them out of the house, never let them watch TV, never let them talk to friends or go online or even read a book. Sex is everywhere...the idea that a child should be able to make it through high school without being exposed to it is ridiculous. Plus, in the instance of Glee, the show isn't exactly the shining example for kids either. If parents are letting their kids watch Glee and that's why they're worried about characters from the show posing for GQ, then stop letting them watch Glee! Half of the characters on that show had sex at age 16 or younger. One of them has a habit of sleeping with moms, and another cheated on her boyfriend and got pregnant. I don't have anything against the's great TV. My problem is with the parents who think that it's somehow more appropriate than the GQ photo shoot. I think people need to make up their minds...either hide any and all adult content from their kids by locking them in a basement somewhere, or try to raise them to deal with adult issues on their own so that they won't go out there and do something stupid just because someone on TV did it.

Posted by: Emily31 | October 22, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

an incredibly dumb article... drivel.

Posted by: marktryk | October 22, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

incredibly dumb article. drivel, really.

Posted by: marktryk | October 22, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Petri, great satire. I loved it. We all know that these rightwing "parents organizations," The Parents Television Council being chief among them, are not concerned in the least bit with our children, and the children themselves are not going to be warped for life by seeing Miley Cyrus rolling around on her bed in her underwear or the Glee kids (in their mid-20's if I'm not mistaken) posing in more than they would wear on any public beach. No, what the rightwing parent's groups are after is political, and certainly not moral in any way—in fact it's immoral. This conservative use of entertainers as a political football is getting really old, and it's especially irksome when they do it to 17-year-olds. As you say, they've been doing it since the 20s of the last century. Enough already! And when you think about how the kids end up who are actually treated like these conservatives want us to treat all kids, it's pretty sick. Look at poor Katy Perry (real name, Katy Hudson). Perry's sick-headed fundamentalist parents kept her isolated like a cloistered nun until she got away from them at 18-years old. They didn't let her watch TV, or listen to any music that wasn't "Christian". Perry says she started sneaking in "secular" music when she was about 15 and spent the next 10 years trying to learn what normal kids learn in their first 15 years. By the time she hit her early 20s she was a notorious Hollywood party girl, hanging out with the Paris Hiltons of the world. Her parents couldn't stop her from growing up and trying to experience real life, no matter how hard they tried. The only down side was that she spent her late teens and early 20s in a drunken haze trying to catch up with her peers. Hopefully that's over now that she's settling down and getting married. Miley Cyrus' parents are a bit more reasonable, although she says they still only allow 10 TV channels in their home. At least they have allowed her to have a normal teen dating life and, after she was 16, to go out without a chaperone like normal kids get to do. They have allowed her to experience some of the reality most 17-year-olds take for granted, and so far, she hasn't become a drug-sodden candidate for the Betty Ford Clinic. If parents don't allow their kids to ease into adulthood slowly, a step at a time, like the Cyrus's have for Miley, they are bound to end up with a train wreck. Of course there are other factors in helping a kid to cope with the realities of life, or even the realities of the hyper-stressful life of a celebrity, which naturally can lead toward self-medication, but a large part of the successful formula is to allow a kid to ease into it rather than throwing them into the deep end on their 18th birthday! Miley Cyrus's 18th birthday is a month from today, so we'll soon see how her parent's emphasis on love and good values—as opposed to the fundamentalist emphasis on repressed sexuality—works out.

Posted by: Chris98765 | October 22, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

You mock, but those "kids" in Glee are all older than you are, Alex!

Why should you be allowed to shake your thong bikini in Bob Woodward's face at the office party (I hacked the notes for his next book), and the Glee girls can't even make an honest buck using the amazing thigh turnout they worked so hard for.

She as can, shakes it. She as can't, writes about it.

So get shaking!

Posted by: divtune | October 23, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

P.S. Alex, watch out for Bob. His notes say he's going to use the same code name for his next secret source.

Posted by: divtune | October 23, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

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