Opinion

Summer 'Camp' and Taylor Swift

byKevin and Marilyn Ryan
8/23/2013

Summer is fast coming to its last sunset. Camps are cleaning up the bunks, storing racquets and games, pitching socks from departed owners -- but the television series "Camp" is just starting to fire up the grill. We know little about this show from a lamentable 15 minutes of an adult romp. Opening lines of the sort not fit for younger audiences go something like "I know you want to sleep with me."

The early scenes are followed by advertisements for bras, modeled by teenage girls in coquettish poses that would make even Hugh Heffner blush. The ads go on for some time making one wonder who would place ads on this new series. Is this a camp for sex addicts or losers who spend too much time texting to have a real life?

The new show is from NBC, which we once considered a "family" network. Created by Peter Elkoff and Liz Helders, the website calls this an American "dramedy" TV series. "Dramedy," as in "laugh along with us and casual sex." NBC is obviously desperate for some ratings.

Naturally we don't watch NBC shows of this genre and we don't buy their sponsors' bras either. In full disclosure, we don't buy anything Calvin Klein or Benetton -- ever. CK has pushed sexuality for decades and remember when Benetton pushed the envelope with an ad featuring a doctored photo of the pope kissing an imam? They were sued and they lost.

We are confident our good readers avoid "smut" as our mothers declared we should. But who is going to boycott products and ad agencies corrupting our young? Use a politically incorrect term and you lose your show. (It happened recently.) Wouldn't it be nice if we shunned these shows and Calvin Klein and other such retailers living off our business?

Since we have had an education with our own grandchildren visiting this summer, we know we are way out of touch. We recognize generation apres has no interest in our archaic ideas. As defined by this generation, we aren't cool. But what is the media doing to our children? So many steamy and dangerous programs lurk on the exploding number of channels. "Girls," "Sex in the City," and now "Camp." No need to be coy: yes, sex sells. But not to us.

In desperation, many parents have banned television altogether since it is so difficult to monitor the content. Other families forbid cell phone use. Still, kids want to be cool.

In a leap of independence, our granddaughters took the "T" into the city. After our claim that here in Boston girls were expected to dress a little like a first rate city, a bit chic (and didn't they have a skirt to wear?), they reported to us how many others were wearing short, short athletic shorts on the T and on Newbury Street. As if we didn't know.

We don't care to be too negative on youth culture. After all, we were there once ourselves. So let's move on to a more pleasant venue. The granddaughters are high on Taylor Swift. Since she is a young, beautiful and talented pop icon, we decided to check her out. She is sort of a neighbor, a few miles by car, so we soaked up local stories about her. The "grandgirls" hoped for a sighting, as they peeked around the security guards. She has endeared herself to the locals in a posh Rhode Island town buying furniture for her lavish ocean house at a small downtown store and with her parents! The owner of the store (Micelli's) shut it down for the expedition, prudently offering the family some privacy. She is seen biking with buddies, taking the ferry and hosting discreet parties on the July 4th weekend. Her bathing suits remind us of Esther Williams and Jantzen suits, in today's vocabulary, "retro."

We decided to zero in on her lyrics, since the granddaughters have memorized and sing a good many. Taylor Swift appeals to teen girls with her songs of loves lost and found, attraction and disappointment. One popular song tells of the dad saying "stay away from Juliet," but the lad talks to dad, and dad tells her to buy a white dress. It's a love song turning out right.

She sings of herself in another song titled "The Lucky Ones":

"Everybody loves, pretty

Everybody loves cool

So overnight you look like a

Sixties queen

Another name goes up in lights,

Like diamonds in the sky.

And they tell you that you are lucky

But you're so confused

'Cause you don't feel pretty

you just feel used."

In the song "State of Grace," some of the lyrics are:

"This is a state of grace

This is the worthwhile fight

Love is a ruthless game

Unless you play it good and right.

This is the golden age of

Something good, right and real."

Let's hope she never stoops to the entertainment level of NBC. Along with other parents, we pray Taylor Swift keeps the faith with her following. She has adult support by setting a good example for teens. That is her state of grace.

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline.