In 2004, there was a movie called Mean Girls, with Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, and Tina Fey. The movie showed how cruel teenage girls can be toward each other with their rules of high school conformity. The cruelty of the teen years for girls was not a new subject. In 1995, Mary Pipher explored the issue in her bestselling book Reviving Ophelia, explaining that at adolescence, "girls become 'female impersonators' who fit their whole selves into small, crowded spaces." As adults, we shake our heads when we hear about the new lengths kids will go to with "cyber-bullying" and just the general cruel comments and rumors girls spread about each other. So I find it even more disturbing that recently there have been a few instances in the media of grown men making fun of teenage girls.
On his show on June 8th, David Letterman made remarks about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's trip to New York: "One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game, during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez." The next night, he continued his attack on Palin's daughter, stating that the hardest part of Palin's trip was "keeping Eliot Spitzer away from her daughter." Disgusting, Letterman. Truly disgusting.
In Mean Girls, the main character concluded that girls tear each other down in a misguided effort to build themselves up. Why then does a 62 year-old-man, secure in his career, feel a need to make degrading remarks about a teenage girl? Furthermore, it's been a widely held principle that the children of political candidates are off limits for lampooning. Their parents chose to be in the spotlight, not them.
Another teenage girl who has been the target of cruelty is 16 year-old singer Miley Cyrus. In April on his radio show The Foxxhole, Jamie Foxx made disparaging remarks about Cyrus's appearance, remarking "She's got to get a gum transplant!" Then he suggested that Cyrus "make a sex tape and grow up. Get like Britney Spears and do some heroin. Do like Lindsay Lohan and get some crack in your pipe ... That's what I want." Pathetic, Foxx. Really pathetic.
Even if you want to make the distinction that Miley Cyrus chose a career in entertainment and is therefore fair game for media scrutiny, again I have to ask: Why would a grown man, established in his own career, want to pick on a teenage girl? It's not like they're up for the same acting roles. Perhaps in Letterman's case, though, such comments do come from a place of insecurity. Not only were his comments distasteful, they were so far from funny, they prove he is past his prime and ready to retire.