I do not often watch Gossip Girl, because I don't have the time to add new shows to my TV line-up (Glee, Desperate Housewives, The Office, Grey's Anatomy and sometimes Modern Family and CSI Miami), but I recently watched an episode. And it left me confused. Are these people supposed to be in high school? Why is Serena waiting in a big house for some married dude? Shouldn't she be dating guys closer in age to her? How is she so perfect looking all the time? Can I please have her wardrobe? And Blair? Can I have her headbands? She is so cute, even though she is sometimes evil. The guys, however? They all look like girls.
I wonder if teenagers today are more crazy than we were back in the day (I graduated from high school in 1995... yes... it is now starting to sound like a very long time ago!) Was 90210 as dark as Gossip Girl? Was 90210 a more relatable show for teens? Were we all that thin? What else did we watch, back then? Were movies like The Breakfast Club and Pretty In pink - movies we all love - relatable?
I think yes. Yes for 90210, yes for The Breakfast Club, yes even for Gossip Girl - on some level. And now why are we - adults, parents, thirtysomething's - part of the fan club of all things aimed at teens today? From music to movies, to television shows and books - what is it that we're attracted to here?
Why are we watching Glee and Gossip Girl, reading Twilight and New Moon, and listening to Lady Gaga and Britney Spears? Are we not over our teenage years? What are we yearning for?
For me, it's pretty simple: I still feel young. I'm young at heart. I look in the mirror, and although I don't look exactly the same I did when I was 18, I don't look old. Older, sure, but not old. I still love listening to fun music in the car, reading trashy magazines, and watching useless shows on television. It's just a nice way to unwind after my busy day... and it can also be a trip down memory lane.
I read an article in Chatelaine by Katrina Onstad called "Watching the Kids", talking about why we're so interested in TV shows about people years younger than we are, and the article made me really think about this issue. She mentioned writer Kate Crawford stated in her book Adult Themes: "Maturity should be measured by the substance of our lives, not the stuff we consume".
And my life is full of substance - the real things that matter the most to me. My family, my friends. My job, the work I do. My house, my community. I watch adult movies, I read real literature, (I read Madame Bovary, The Decameron, and Dante's Inferno when I was still a teenager) and I stay on top of the latest news from around the world. I'm a University graduate and a mother but I can still enjoy the fluff, too.
So, basically - it's okay for us, as adults, to sink our teeth into Twilight, (which you all know how much I love!) watch Gossip Girl, and listen to Gaga, because we are responsible adults - we have jobs, we provide for our families, we care for, love, and educate our children and we give back to our communities. We are able to enjoy pop culture aimed at teens because we are mature, capable citizens. We can leave the fantasy at the door when the time comes.(Or put Twilight down when the baby starts to cry!) We've already been there... now we sit back and watch, and enjoy the show.
I can watch The Hills and shake my head in amazement at all the fakeness and 'drama', knowing what 'drama' really means now. The difference between me (an adult) and a teenager watching The Hills is that they believe it. Oftentimes, that 'drama' is all they know, too. Compared to parenthood, teenagers have it good! I remember my high school years being some of the best of my life... when the biggest problem of the day was what to wear, if 'he' would be at school that day, and where we'd be hanging out that weekend. Ah, the simple life...
I sometimes miss the days when things were more simple. Even Twilight is simple. The only person Bella really has to think about is herself and her love for her vampire boyfriend. She doesn't have any responsibilities, like children or bills to pay. She can choose to become a vampire because, well, there's not much holding her back (except for her parents). Reading books aimed at teenagers, watching shows about high school students - it's a great way to escape, and I think it's important to have some fun in our lives. Like Onstad said in her article: "Just because one consumes pop culture about youth doesn't mean one is stuck in youth."
We can read our 'good' books, but still enjoy books aimed at teens; we can listen to any music we desire, we can even watch and love Gossip Girl - because our feet are firmly planted on the ground, because we know the difference between reality and fantasy, and because we know what life is really about. We all need a break for harsh reality sometimes!