Idol is not to Blame

Find my latest American Idol article here.

Is it pressure or unrealistic expectations?

This week a former contestant on American Idol killed herself outside Paula Abdul’s apartment, and now, of course, many people are looking to blame the show for her death.

It is sad that this young lady with all of her apparent mental problems chose to end her life, but I do not feel that it can be blamed on American Idol.

The truth of the matter is that kids these days are being given a false sense of reality and expectations.  Just this week, Fox News published a story which blamed parents and schools for attempting to raise students’ self-esteem and expectations for their futures to unrealistic levels.

This is because children are praised without having to perform.  Children will always perform up to the expectations of adults.  When they are given no expectations in order to receive praise and rewards, then they will expect the world to be given to them for nothing.  They are often built-up without any foundation of personal accountability for 18 years, and then released on world that will savage them with its expectations.  Or, even worse they marry early and destroy the lives of their spouse and children with their expectation that everything will just be given to them without them having to put forth any effort.

American Idol and the other reality programs that focus on young people simply present us each season with the ugly truth of this situation.  Each season we see young person after young person talking about how they are not given a fair chance and how the ‘deserve’ to go on.  As Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, “Deserve has got nothing to do with it.”  No one ‘deserves’ to make it on American Idol or in any business.  They prove themselves through determination, hard work and talent.  The problem is that this generation, like most, does not want to put in the work that it takes to achieve, and they have been taught that they are the stars of their own movie.  Living a life where you go to work every day and earn an honest wage in order to support the family that you love is something that they cannot comprehend, and if they could, they would probably think it was boring and despise it.

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Well, Well, Well. In your face Chaddick!

Every now and then a small person (and I mean small in character) finds himself in a position of authority.  These people tend to use their positions abusively and at their own discretion.  Nathan Chaddick, in his attempt to deal with an unfortunate situation at the high school where he is the Pricipal did just this.  The derogatory language that he used to characterize several young ladies and a mother showed the world the power that he felt he had in his position.  He forgot that his position is a public trust, but obviously the head of the school disrict did not.  Good for the superintendent, but I would have rather seen a little more public discipline of the Principal and the faculty sponsor of the cheerleading squad, since the Principal chose to denegrate the young ladies on school newspaper in public.

And, I want to take a moment to praise Mollie Garrigan, Katy Rushing, Suzanne Choate, Harry Duncan, Hannah Frizzell and Nicole Wilson.  They are the ones who stood up and told the truth on this, and they should be commended.  I’m sure they will have a great future in journalism.

Skit Portaying Executions is Inappropriate

After Reading an article that I found off of Foxnews this morning, I am now insane…

 

I usually only link to articles that spark my interest.  Today, however, I am going to place the whole text of the article on my post because I do not think I can effectively comment upon it without having it here for you to read.  So, to give appropriate credit, I will tell you that this article was published at dailysentinel.com and can be found here.  The Article was written by Tyesha Boudreaux.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A performance during a Nacogdoches High School pep rally last month has created some controversy between students and the administration over the appropriateness of a skit that included the executions of rivals and toy guns.

Some students say the skit was inappropriate and are circulating a petition — which currently has 122 signatures — protesting “gun promotion” at pep rallies.

 However, NHS principal Nathan Chaddick contends that the skit was a “simple, innocent satire” aimed at boosting school spirit, and with the exception of one complaint from a parent, Chaddick said “everybody enjoyed it and had a good time.”

Laughter from the crowd of spectators, which includes several adult voices, is prevalent throughout a video of the skit, which was performed during a Sept. 5 pep rally.

The skit opens with a few cheerleaders dressed to represent that week’s opposing team, the Center High School Roughriders. Wearing cowboy hats and carrying toy pistols, the “rivals” run into the gym to take the NHS mascot hostage as the theme from the movie “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” plays in the background.

As the Center team scuffles with the mascot, NHS cheerleaders run to the rescue, freeing the mascot. They then force the Center team to kneel as they stand behind them with guns.

The music shifts to a popular song which includes the sound of gunfire. As the NHS cheerleaders hold the guns to the back of the kneeling “prisoners'” heads, gunfire is heard. The “prisoners” fall over, dead.

The victorious NHS cheerleaders then toss what appears to be fake money into the air in celebration, then drag the bodies representing Center into a pile, whereupon the NHS mascot holds up a tombstone over the executed “prisoners,” to the sound of clapping and cheering from the spectators.

But not everyone found the skit enjoyable or appropriate.

Soon after, a petition “against gun promotion at pep rallies” was circulated, and an article and two editorials on the subject appeared in the student newspaper, The Dragon Echo.

The editorial defending the skit, written by an NHS cheerleader, was published in its entirety. An editorial critical of the skit, written by two students, was edited — by Chaddick — to eliminate three paragraphs that questioned the administration’s support for the skit.

In addition, a news article detailing the skit as a whole was moved from the front page to the third page of the Echo, at Chaddick’s direction, because he felt there were more important issues at hand.

“We just had the hurricane going on and people without power in their homes and homeless,” he said. “And there’s just more important things going on than a personal agenda of three little girls. I don’t think three girls and one mother have the right to make this a top story for our school newspaper.”

However, Mollie Garrigan, who wrote the editorial with fellow student Katie Rushing, denied that the motives were personal.

“In no way are we against cheerleaders,” Mollie said. “We are against gun promotion.”

Chaddick said he didn’t believe that using a toy gun in a skit promoted the use of guns.

“In any school district, there’s a zero tolerance regarding illegal weapons, certainly,” he said. “But this was just a simple skit done by our cheerleaders just to promote some school spirit and motivate the football team at a pep rally … they were doing like a little country, cowboy-type skit.”

Although the NISD Student Code of Conduct and Student Handbook says that “using or possessing a pellet gun, air-powered rifle, toy gun, or any other instrument that may be perceived by a third party as a firearm” is a prohibited conduct, Chaddick said it didn’t pertain to a toy gun used in a skit.

He compared it instead, to the use of a prop in a play.

“What do they want us to do with Shakespeare when kids have swords stabbing each other or plays with some shooting?” Chaddick asked. “It’s the same thing. It’s the same little skit. But because these three girls have a personal thing going on against some cheerleaders, they feel they have a right to use this venue for their personal agenda or purpose, and I’m just not going to allow that.”

In addition to the title of the editorial “Fearleaders,” Chaddick also eliminated the following paragraphs:

“We realize it was intended to raise school spirit, but it is inappropriate to allow such a display of excessive violence in a high school. This is not only unacceptable in a school environment, but also from a moral standpoint. This skit did not portray the other team as our opponent in a sports game, but as an enemy.

This skit and all of its implications were approved by an authoritative figure with the power and responsibility to edit the skit.

Such an authority should certainly show more discretion in the future.”

When asked what he found inappropriate about the material edited from the editorial, Chaddick would say only that it was “obvious” that the comments were a personal grudge.

“They were calling the cheerleaders ‘fearleaders’,” he said. “That’s just inappropriate.”

“In a public school setting, you can’t just publish anything you want to,” Chaddick said. “There is going to be some censorship and some editing if there’s something that’s inappropriate.”

“I got one parent who thinks it was so wrong that we had some plastic guns in the skit here at the schoolhouse,” he said. “I let her know, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion and your personal own beliefs. One person’s personal agenda is not going to drive what we do here at Nacogdoches High School.”

Here is a link to the actual video of the skit.

 

It is hard to know where to begin with this one.  I guess I will begin by saying that I do not agree with anyone involved with this story.  I commend the students who saw that the skit was wrong for taking it upon themselves to say so when no one else was doing so.  Good for them.

They make a good point in their editorial that the school has been, at the very least, inconsistent in its interpretation of its own policies regarding guns and images of firearms, and more likely selective in its interpretations.

However, the fact that guns were involved in a skit is not the true and appropriate source of outrage here.  The true offensiveness of this skit is in the imagery of an execution-style murder.  The reaction of the students who were against the skit came across to me like a group of people who, after seeing a noose hung on a tree outside of the home of a black family, are offended at the blatant reference to capital punishment that they saw in the image.  The point that I am making is that the imagery of execution-style murders carries with it a stronger connotation than simply that of gun violence.  There is a stomach-turning feeling associated with this type of activity be it by Al Qaida in Iraq or some thugs robbing a Quick Stop, just as there is a stomach-churning feeling associated with blatantly racist images like the noose in the reference above.  Society has little patience with people who take it upon themselves to execute another human being in cold blood, more often than not giving the perpetrator the death penalty on states where it is allowed. 

I do not care what justification is given, the skit performed by the cheerleaders at this school was incredibly out of bounds.  They could just have well have marched the ‘cheerleaders’ for the opposition into an oven in the skit, and I would have been equally offended. 

There is no defense for this, and someone should have said. “No!”  As is true in most schools, there is almost always a member of the faculty that sponsors the cheerleading squad.  Both that person and the cheerleaders should be held accountable for this.  The students need some sort of reprimand to teach them and the other students at the school that this sort of activity is wrong, and the teacher/sponsor of the squad should be suspended or released depending in her track record.

The person that I have the biggest issue with in all of this is Nathan Chaddick, the Principal of the high school.  First, he is inconsistent and selective in his application of the printed rules of the school, and that is not right.  The students at this school are being sent the message that we see coming from many small town schools that cheerleaders are special and above the level of other students.  It is these same attitudes that have led to several recent incidents in which high school athletes think that they can sexually assault the younger athletes in the school and call it hazing.  These cheerleaders have to be forced to follow the same rules as any other student.

Second, Chaddick seems to be inappropriately making accusations against the students who have questioned the appropriateness of the skit by questioning their motivations.  This, once again, looks like they are putting the cheerleaders on a pedestal, but it goes farther when he accuses the other students of using the skit to promote their own petty “personal grudge.”

I would make the case that he does not reside inside the minds of the students who raised the objection, and therefore cannot and should not comment on their motivations, especially when they are making a good point.  There is nothing in their letter to the editor that is a personal attack on anyone.  He says that it was inappropriate for the students to call the cheerleaders ‘fearleaders,’ but is that so bad?  In fact, there was nothing to be offended by in the redacted material, unless he was simply offended by the fact that their argument was so much better than his.  Look, I am the last guy to say that students have the right to say anything that they want to in a school newspaper, but it is apparent that the only reason he redacted their editorial was because he did not like their argument (which was obviously better that the opinion that he and the cheerleaders held).  Giving the cheerleaders the forum of the school newspaper to print their opinion of the incident, while redacting a cogent, appropriate counterpoint is simply another example of the preferential treatment shown to cheerleaders in this school.

However, the biggest problem with Chaddick is not his treatment of the students in this matter (though it is bad enough), but it is the fact that he shows himself to be so completely out of touch with social mores in this matter.  His statement comparing this skit involving execution-style killings to a Shakespearian play with swords shows him to either be stupid or a liar.  His smug attitude shown throughout the story shows him to be both, and the faster this school district sends him packing and apologizes to these young women the better.