The past few years in America have caused the media to become a chanting chorus of anti-bullying messages. “I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes,” Lady Gaga sang in the (rejected?) gay anthem “Born This Way.” “Don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing; you are perfect to me,” P!nk implored in “Fuckin’ Perfect.” “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?” Katy Perry queried in “Firework.” (Admittedly, some songs were more effective than others.)
With the It Gets Better campaign infecting all parts of the media, and especially shows like Glee, it’s very rare to see any arm of the press fall out of step with the vehement “Bullying isn’t okay; embrace who you are” message.
On the CNN.com homepage today is an article from Oprah.com entitled “How to deal with your kid’s weird friends.” Author Corrie Pikul describes the six different types of ‘weird’ kids your child might make friends with in school, and how to best deal with them. The piece itself isn’t the issue – though Pikul isn’t exactly setting the journalistic world on fire with this one – but in how she handwaves being able to call these kids weird.
“Your child is hilarious, interesting, clever—frankly, he’s all-around delightful,” she starts. “But his friends are …well, we’re all adults here, so let’s just come out with it: Some of them are weird.”
I’m not quite sure what being adults has to do with it. Is name-calling okay at a certain age? Are we as adults allowed to call kids weird, but not each other? Can kids call us weird? It’s a very strange qualifier, and while I’m sure Pikul meant nothing by it, I have to wonder why maven of good feelings Oprah Winfrey’s website endorses something like this.
Not only that, but the position is kind of imperious and condescending. ‘My child is perfect, but look at all these other weirdos he has to put up with!’ If your child is hanging out with weird kids, chances are he’s a little weird, too. In fact, most kids are weird. Hence why I don’t want to have any of them. Maybe this piece would have been more useful if it was about dealing with your own child’s weirdnesses as well.
I’ve made my position on It Gets Better known, and let me just clarify that I personally have no problem with this. There are such things as weird kids. Like I said, I personally think most kids are weird. But this is such a strange piece simply because it’s so out of step with the rest of media’s pro-uniqueness message. Perhaps the anti-bullying wave is coming to a close once again?