Friday, March 7, 2008

Stirring it up...

The North Midland Family Center hosted a Valentines dance and fashion show for local teens a couple weeks back that like most dances I've attended in my life was filled with hormones and teenage awkwardness. For me the images I came back with spoke to that transition stage in our lives, that confusing mixture of carefree innocence and self conscious uncertainty. I found myself squirming uncomfortably or cheering madly from behind my camera lens as I recognized their humorous first attempts at a thing called "love."
The community out cry against these images was intense. They accused the Midland Daily News and myself of putting a "spin" on an event for "shock value," taking advantage of minors, and printing "distasteful," "appalling," "worthless" "garbage" as news. I was both shocked and amazed by this response which seemed to suggest a severe case of delusion when it comes to teenage activities and dress as well as the role of journalism in the community. I found it ironic that the community was asking us to do the exact thing that they claimed was so appalling about these images- to put a spin on the news. They were asking us to tailor the news to their liking and to run only 'positive' images regardless to accuracy. Our photo editor, Ryan Wood, felt it necessary to respond and wrote a column that outlined our approach and intent.
Even as I review the images and try to see them through their eyes, I struggle to understand what they found so offensive. Maybe I am a hopeless product of the times, but I have personally witness more inappropriate clothing and behavior walking through my college campus and at friend's house parties then what is depicted in these images. I am curious about what other people's responses are to these photographs and would love feedback. Is this a reflection of the generational gap that exists today and the different standards and expectations or is the outcry based on a white, wealthy, upper class community's attempt to portray a positive wholesome image even at the cost of truth? Is it a product of idealistic ignorance or are these image truly that offensive?


Thomas Simonetti said...

Do these people ever watch TV?

Thomas Simonetti said...

If people aren't complaining, you probably aren't being "real" enough.

Aaron said...

In the original MDN article about the event, the "Busty Girl" posted a comment herself, and I think she does a good job summing up the ridiculousness of it all:

i think the community should know. My name is Alicia Laeder, I am the "busty" girl dancing in the photo taken at NMFC. I was repulsed by the belittling comments and editorial pertaining to the photo taken of me and my frineds. I am a freshman at H.H. Dow High School, a Freshman with a 4.233 GPA, not some reckless teen. One lady voiced that her daughter volunteered that night and was part of Big brothers Big Sisters and did not get any recognition in the paper and instead some out of control, barley dressed teens were in the paper. I am not an out of control teen, i have never used any illeagl substance, nor have i ever been in trouble with the law. I participated and placed in Pre-Teen Michigan and Pre-teen America Scholarship program, one that recognizes a girl for outstanding GRADES, VOLUNTEER SERVICE, ACEMDEMIC ACTIVITIES, ECT! As far as my attire for the night, I was wering a cammisole, sweater jacket and jeans...I liked what I wore...I may be curvey but i am thankful i am not battling eating disorders. I think its unfair to have to buy all neck high shirts just because i have a chest. And to people who say girls that dress like that are the ones that are having sex or being raped they are wrong, i am in control of my body. Girls already have it in their mind if they are gonna make a decision like that, its not because of the clothes they wear. And in most(not all) cases of girls being raped its because of poor/no communication with a guardian. Being a teen these days you are exposed to more than adults sometimes know. I know where all the hot party spots, drinking places, and other tricks....but to me those are not a good time. Dancing with friends is by far better to me. Why do people complain about the way teens dress...the way teens dress is not whats causing the drugs use, drinking, swearing, cursing, and rebellion. People who try and stop their teens from dressing a certain way...always loose the battle. It creates a craving in teens...its like telling someone to not think about the word horse for 10 seconds. Maybe my picture should have been printed next to an article about how many teens drink, smoke, do drugs, commit or even think about sucicide, shootings, or how many teens have major run in's with the law or court system. Maybe then people would see dancing and the way people dress as not a problem. Just maybe then they would see that real problem is the way people misjudge and sterotype...that is what creates the problem....and creates the hate. I feel bad for those people who complained about the pictures, because i know there are a lot bigger/worse issues in this world, and if they are worring about all the little things, they must worry about alot all the time and to them i want to say just remember for every minute you are angery you loose 60 seconds of happiness. I do not blame the Midland Daily News in any way, they did a great job. Thanks to those you did support me and my frineds! And Thanks to NMFC TEEN GROUP for putting on a great safe night!

Nice work, Mandy, as always. :)

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