I love how companies like Disney and Random House determine the relative “wholesomeness” of young adult novels, TV shows and pop stars by the extent to which they preach chastity and abstinence, when it is precisely that purity-preaching that fuels the fire of teenage hormones. The enormously successful Twilight series, for example, is essentially a virginity parable, as Evgenia Peretz points out in the latest issue of Vanity Fair:
“In case you’ve been living in a remote forest, the series tells the story of Bella Swan, a shy newcomer to the town of Forks, Washington, who falls in love with Edward Cullen, a vampire since 1918, when he was bitten, who will be 17 years old for eternity. Though they are hopelessly in love, if they were to really fool around, Edward would lose control and bite her, turning Bella into a vampire as well—all of which puts the two in a permanent state of unquenchable lust, not to mention abstinence. This doubtless plays well with parents and bluenoses, like the author’s fellow Mormons. In fact, the whole setup could be seen as a metaphor for hanging on to your virginity.”
But somehow, instead of inspiring teens to hold onto their virginity, the book series and first Twilight movie have sent teens as well as their mothers into a raging sexual frenzy. An article in Jezebel today entitled “…I Had More Sex When I Was Reading Twilight Than The Entire Few Months Before” addresses “the whole sexual element to Twilight” that is fueling “cougar” fantasies around the nation. And let’s be honest– if a young adult novel can put the spark back into a 20-year marriage, it’s certainly not going to make teenagers zip their pants. Robert Pattinson told Peretz in the Vanity Fair interview that he can’t leave his hotel room without being swarmed by horny teenagers trying to rip his clothes off as they cry and faint at his feet.
The Jonas Brothers phenomenon is equally puzzling. All three of them wear “purity rings” to announce to their fans that they will be virgins until they’re married. These rings, along with the band’s “wholesome” lyrics, are supposed to set a good example for teens, and mothers pay thousands of dollars to get their young daughters into Jonas Brothers concerts as a healthy alternative to watching over-sexed pop stars like Britney Spears and Madonna.
In reality, Disney has taken three good-looking teen brothers, dressed them in tight rock-star jeans, put “Haha You Can’t Have Me” rings on their fingers and let them loose into a stadium full of screaming pre-pubescent girls. The Jonases are then free to do borderline inappropriate things in the name of “good clean fun,” like spray massive amounts of white foam into the crowd with giant hoses (seriously). Please see this clip of a hilarious Southpark episode parody on the subject:
or, see the entire episode if you have time, because it’s absolutely hysterical:
The irony of it all is that a Jonas Brother singing about the purity of his love and a book about two teenagers that desperately want but can’t have each other will get teenagers far more sexually excited than a slightly bloated Britney Spears with nipple tassels and a toddler on each hip, singing about her divorce and subsequent mental breakdowns.
Telling a teenager not to do something is the absolute worst way to make him or her not want to do it. Perhaps a better strategy to virginify your teens is to tell them they better eat their vegetables, do all their homework and have sexual intercourse before 11 pm every weeknight or they’ll be grounded for a month. That oughta buckle their chastity belts, no?