DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: In case you missed the latest Teen Drama You’re Not Allowed to Avoid, it is this: Willow Palin, 16-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, got into a Facebook argument that included homophobic slurs, fat jokes, and curse words. Dear Palin Household, I have two questions: one, did you have the conversation with your kids about “don’t say stuff that might make Mom (or Bristol) look bad”? And two, if you did, did you remember to include “homophobic things” under “stuff”?
Here’s the thing, Palin Household. As much as I wish the “don’t say homophobic stuff, because non-heterosexual people are people too” conversation was taking place at every American dinner table, I know that it’s not. And I know that, even if it was, many Teenage-Americans would still use words like “faggot” on Facebook, if only to piss off their parents.
But, in the context of a country increasingly frustrated with same-sex marriage impediments and Washington’s foot-dragging on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell plus the recent media focus on LGBT teens committing suicide due to homophobic bullying, it seems to me that you might have said to the kids, “hey, we know Jesus says homosexuality is wrong*, but don’t use words like ‘faggot’ on Facebook ’cause it might make Mom and/or Bristol lose votes, okay?”
And I am simply saddened by Willow’s insistence that her sister is “hot” because “not fat.” I know the “fat people are people too” conversation takes place at American dinner tables even less often than the “gay people are people too” conversation. But the fact that Willow’s fat-phobic Facebook comments are utterly par for the course among American sixteen-year-old girls kind of makes me want to cry. Internalized misogyny, much?
By the way, Palin clan: Not liking a TV show is not “talkin s*** about [your] family.” TV shows = fair game.
*Not true! Jesus says nothing about homosexuality! It’s (not) in the Bible and everything!
AKIE BERMISS: Basically, I agree with Dani. When I was young, I know we used homophobic epithets for everything. That’s just growing up in Brooklyn and talking slang and being ignorant and insensitive (and also a childless clueless reflection of adult society’s context clues). But when I got a little older — that is, when all my friends hit puberty — and some of them started to “come out” AND remain part of the circle of friends… well, then I started to think more about my language. Also, I knew, no matter what kind of slang or profanity I was saying, that my parents would not approve of such things as were meant to subjugate an entire group of people to generalized negativity. Alas, I’ve gone to far inside, perhaps. I’m sure the Palins are VERY different parents than mine were. Why even the poorly disguised disdain for community organizers and educators runs totally opposite from my upbringing under a father who was, basically, a community organizer and a mother who was, to her very core personally and professionally, an educator.
Here MY thing, though: What is up with these Palins? Get out of my life, already! Why is it that Alaska finally starts to take a place in front-page pop-culture and breaking news only through its most horrible, under-prepare, uncouth emissaries? Is that just the way of things in human development? Is it always going to be Cortes who shows up first and introduces his culture by being as insensitive, brutal, and entitled as possible?
Now, I understand a teenager getting defensive about their family — especially when that family is constantly on the national stage. And often doing things that must, on a visceral level, be somewhat embarrassing. But to be up on Facebook… firing off epithets and invectives against school-mates. When you’re family is famous? Forgive me for being mean to a 16-year-old: but that’s dumb. Even when I was 16 I had good enough sense to know that whatever I posted online under my name was likely to make it back to my parents somehow. Way to drop the ball for teenagers everywhere, son.
Finally, I’m just sick of hearing about the Palins. They are pretty much everything NOT good about Americans. They are overly-ambitious, overly-self assured, and overly in need of attention. And yet they are perfectly under-qualified, unexceptional, and fairly untalented. They are like the reverse-Kennedys! There is a soul-sundering love-of-mediocrity emanating from their general direction. They have none of the will to do great things that was signature in being a Kennedy and they have all the willfulness to do wrong and cover it up and justify it — that was Achilles heel of the Kennedys.
Indeed, you might say: the Palins are all Achilles’ heel — but no Achilles.
And, though I’ve never seen it, I bet Sarah Palin’s reality show does suck. So there.