I wonder if parents do not sometimes feel like salmon swimming upstream to spawn new life while encountering the most violent white water rapids which they must negotiate.  Something like that is presented to parents by the pop culture to which their teenage daughters are exposed.  I suggest that it has been like that since the Roaring Twenties of the last Century.  I can recall my own struggle with the pop culture crisis posed by Madonna (the singer, not the Blessed Mother) when she was much younger than she is now and was the teen idol of the moment.

Madonna was under contract to Pepsico Corp to do commercials to help push their products; their slogan at the time was “Come alive, join the Pepsi Generation!”  Madonna made a commercial for Pepsi using her latest video, “Like a Prayer.”  Madonna and the video and the song hit a new low in taste and was completely unacceptable because it featured her simulating sexual intercourse with a statue of Saint Peter Claver, which came alive to accommodate her.  I was outraged, along with many other persons, because at the time Madonna was the idol of teenage girls.  I knew that the commercial would have a negative effect on impressionable teens, and I was especially concerned about young Hispanic girls since almost every Hispanic home in the Diocese of Corpus Christi had a home altar shrine with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe prominently displayed.

I asked Pepsi Corp. to pull the commercial.  Getting no response from Pepsi, I ordered all of the Pepsi vending machines in our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Corpus Christi to be removed, and that all Pepsi Corp. products were to be banned from Catholic premises.

Shortly after I did that I got a call from a man in Fort Worth who said that he was the distributor of Pepsi in South Texas and that my boycott would hurt his business terribly if it spread.  I assured him that that was not my intent, but that I felt it necessary to do something to counteract the damage being done to Catholic girls (and others) by the Madonna commercial.  He said he would talk to Pepsi Corp headquarters in New York.  A short time later I got a call from the Pepsi in NY asking what I wanted them to do.  I replied that the minimum they had to do was to pull the “Like a Prayer” commercial off the air and television.  They said they would see what they could do, but that they had contractual relations with Madonna and that that would limit what they could do.  A couple of days later they pulled the commercial and I lifted the boycott.  Pepsi reached a compromise with Madonna whereby they would not air the commercial in the US but would only air it overseas.  Some might say that I sacrificed teenage girls around the world on the altar of Madonna worship but saved American girls; perhaps, but one person can only do so much.

Things have not changed much since the Madonna Boycott.  Here are Rebbeca Hagelin’s thoughts on the subject:

“There is a pattern here and it will not change as long as we don’t recognize that our little girls are being used. The mass marketers of Hollywood hype know that today’s youth spend some 200 billion dollars a year of their own money on trinkets, music and all the accessories that go with it. They also know that pre-teen girls are easily manipulated and that more than anything else, want to be popular as they grow into young adults. So, they discover cute, talented young girls, make them superstars by playing on your daughter’s dreams of glitz, and morph the ‘wholesome’ starlets into trampy sex stars as they grow older, hoping to take the dollars of your girls with them. … History repeats itself. You know what happened to teen idol Britney Spears. America’s little girls and their moms swooned and spent millions on Britney fashions. However, just as the Britney wannabes reached critical mass, the star’s light started to short circuit. Her sexy ways quickly turned into bizarre behavior, drug problems and a raunchy attitude. Not to worry, High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens was there to take her place. But just as Vanessa hit her zenith in the eyes of our little girls, nude photos and other sexual revelations about her captured the headlines. Down came Vanessa and up went the posters of the twinkling, sparkly Miley Cyrus. Now Miley has made the transition to tramp too. And millions of preteen girls have, once again, been manipulated into believing that being trampy is not only normal, but is the only way to succeed. It’s time for moms to wake up and protect our little girls from being used. Find other moms who are sick of the abuse — it only takes a few friends to create your own sub-culture within the madness of the crazy pop culture. Finding allies is one of the most effective ways to fight back and win.” –columnist Rebecca Hagelin

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About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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