Adolescents and THE MEDIA:
in this case, MTV or ...All in 8 minutes

by P.J. Pappas

It's eight-minutes-til-nine, time is almost up. Jazlyn MacKenna, 16, and her brother Jon, 12-going-on-13-in-a-month, are watching TV on a Thursday evening. They are allowed a half hour, between 8:30 and 9:00pm, as a study break, a family compromise worked out after extensive negotiations, which the kids feel is "kinda fair, depending," and their parents feel to be "quite progressive." All-American Sis and little bro' watch the typical fare, dictated mostly by the elder sibling: MTV, with occasional check-ins on other shows; while Jon, who pleads for equal viewing rights, and prefers Comedy Central's South Park, with quick hits of other cartoon and action-oriented programs, mostly has to wait for his easily distracted sister to leave the den, before he can manipulate the remote (which Jazlyn allows him to hold, but nonetheless controls absolutely).

The lurid and bombastic closing imagery of the latest video by rap-icon Dog Pimp, for his hit, "Unlimited Supply Of Tricks" is scorching the screen with gyrating, barely clad, women -- one in a purple g-string is currently straddling Dog Pimp, or Pimp Dog, it changes, and vibrating her derriere in an almost inhuman fashion, while the master rapper, casually holding a golden cane in one hand, and a glass of champagne in the other, drawls out ultra-cool braggadocio, "...All my tricks be hangin' on my sleeve, I gots more pussy than you niggaz can believe, and if she act up and lose my grip, I bust that ass, and just leave her lyin' on the block for other punk-ass mutherfucker to see and believe. Cuz I got an unlimited supply of tricks, nigga please!!" Jazlyn knows every word, absentmindedly mumbling along. She isn't really down with Pimp Dog, though she respects him, everybody does, but he's old school, gotta be in his 30s, at least. No, Jazlyn's boy is Sir Choc-a-lot, a new shooting star on the rap-scene, his album "Let Me Grip This Shit" has only been out four months, and already tops the charts. Choc-a-lot is built like an idealized Greek Adonis (though the statues in her history book didn't necessarily make the same impression on Jazlyn), claiming never to have lifted a weight in his life, and is 23 years young -- everybody loves Choc-a-lot. The last sequence of Dog Pimp cuts to him rolling slow-motion in his Rolls Royce limo down some anonymous SoCal boulevard, arm dangling a high-powered pistol out the driver's side window, as gorgeous, sultry heads turn, and show a little booty popping out of short-shorts, or cleavage exploding bikinis; and a few jealous rivals (nevertheless decked-out in the hippest rap gear) sneer menacingly in Pimp Dog's direction, but never would dare to step to the "king" in his own video. The final chant of the song repeats, "They all want some of this, they all wanna lick the stick..." Jazlyn is perusing her nails, and, for some reason licking her lips in a way that strikes Jon as strange, as she chants along with the final refrain, but he is not sure why; he sees the women in the rap videos, and girls at Jazlyn's school, for that matter, do the same thing all the time. While he prefers his shows, Jon doesn't really object to Jazlyn's videos -- all the sexiness makes his stomach feel queasy in a not-so-unpleasant way, which descends to his groin in a hot flash and makes him try to rearrange his "privates" more comfortably (which he never can achieve, but enjoys trying, until Jazlyn gives him that disgusted look). There's this strange feeling which the two of them never express to one another, that the sexuality they study every night on TV is important business; a venue to explore and analyze things which their parents only scoff and roll their eyes at when they walk through the den, on their way to watch the news, or The Food Network (Mom), or sports (Dad), on the living room television, and cast comments like, "Isn't there anything worth watching on that thing...?" or "What happened to Batman, and Gilligan's Island?" The kids react with their own eye-rolling, and impatient sighs.

Next is an Angel Face commercial. Angel Face is an anti-acne product: another manifestation of the medicated pad, which assures, evidently, primarily, girls Jazlyn's age that only if they use Angel Face will they look like the shining, perfectly plastic, bright-eyed, ruby-lipped, angelic adolescent, who begins and ends the commercial, smiling confidently, and seductively; ...and not like the same girl, hair frazzled, face pasty and completely horrified, looking in the mirror at a face featuring three reddish blemishes, apparently about to burst into tears (which must have been before she acquired the Angel Face product). It sends Jazlyn scurrying to the bathroom. Normally, she pays no heed to the Angel Face commercial, especially because she has been using the pads since the summer, with fairly decent results (she has quite dry skin, and tends not to break out very often); normally, she is reassured that she is every bit as wonderful as the spokesteen in the ad. But not this week -- she is suffering the eruption of one of those giant red, deep zits, which are even painful, right on the tip of her cute little button nose. She can hardly see around the thing, and it's still growing! Jazlyn is contemplating eating something rotten out of the trash one of these nights, to assure authentic vomiting, and a day home from school, in order to wage chemical warfare on the heinous, not-even-showing-the-white-head-yet, volcano, which is destroying her face... She can't bear it more than a few seconds in front of the mirror, and is stomping quickly up to her room for another Angel Face pad. She reminds herself not to rub too hard, it'll just make it worse, and, pleeeeease, fingers, don't pick at it!! Maybe she should call Jenn, and find out if that stuff her Mom has helped that big, infected pimple on her throat that her best friend has been hiding under turtlenecks all week. Jazlyn wants to cry in desperation... just as Corrin was starting to say hi to her in the halls, and even came by her table at lunch...!!

Meanwhile, Jon is reeling through an MTV Special commercial for What You'll Never Tell Your Parents Happened On Spring Break. It's just too much, essentially copulation in pools, hotel rooms, on the beach, girls making out with girls, another totally nude co-ed being passed over a dance club's groping crowd -- all television-prohibited, throbbing body parts inefficiently "blocked out" by those black rectangles, which cannot keep up with the pulsating sex-action. Jon is dizzy with titillation, and involuntarily massaging his crotch, while he can feel sweat prickling at his neck. Only the remote can rescue him as Jazlyn arrives, and he switches to South Park, simultaneously rolling from a sitting position on a pillow against the coffee table, onto his stomach, the pillow now under him. Jazlyn gives him that dubious look. But she doesn't tell him to change the channel back, because the action on the TV captures her attention. Two of the blocky South Park boy characters are at the local lake, voyeuristically peering through a pair of binoculars, from the cover of the shoreside underbrush, at some South Park high school girls going for a dip, and coyly trying to attract some guys who keep zipping by in their high-powered motor boat. Initially, the younger boys are very Beavis and Butthead about it all, moaning, and commenting, "These chicks are hot, dude! Look at those titties!" But then one of them spots something disconcerting, and the double-circular perspective of the binoculars focuses in on a high school girl's midriff. "Oh my god, dude!" one character exclaims in alarm, "...It's a Cave-girl! The bush is exploding out of her swimsuit, dude! Groooossssss...! I thought hot high school chicks had shaved beave, dude!" This is what arrests Jazlyn, and freezes her in a whole new horror. Pubic hair!! Back to the mirror, this time the full length on her closet door up in her room. Oh my god! And this Saturday is her PE class field-trip to the indoor WaveWorld aquatic complex in Springfield... She picked out matching pink and red bikinis with Jenn at the mall last weekend, and they look real hot, but... She's way ahead of all the girls besides Monica, in terms of body hair. Jazlyn looks at fuzzy the brown hair on her arms, damn! She wishes she could just shave them clean. Nearly in tears, she stands in front of the mirror and pulls the sides of her shorts up over her hips, like the bikini bottoms, ...and, sure enough, she can see a few hairs on either side curling and poking out, ...oh God! Where are the scissors?! No, hers won't work, they're for paper... she needs the hair-cut scissors her Mom has. But she remembers someone telling her that body hair that is cut, like plucked eyebrows, comes back thicker! She's going to have to get her Mom's leg razor, ...but it hurt so much that time she tried to do the hairiest parts of her legs; and she bled, and had to tell her mom that it was grass cuts, ...and mother clearly hadn't believed her. She has to call Jenn... It's already five-til-nine, only five minutes left of "telephone time"... they'll never be able to figure it out in time, and Jazlyn's planning on missing Friday by getting sick, and...!

"You're missing the Choc-a-lot video!!!" Jon screams from downstairs.

"SHUT-UP!!" Jazlyn bellows back.

"Up yours, bitch..." Jon mumbles, screw her, and fucking Choc-o-whatever, anyway. He switches away from the images of the Schwarzneggeresque young black man, stalking the stage, shirtless and glistening with sweat, braying, "I got my homies on the West Side, ...ready to ball! Got my bitches on the East Side, ...waiting for my call! Got five dead niggaz in my trunk, yeah, I did 'em all... and you know I ain't about to stop and take the fall..."

...To scenes featuring the actual Arnold Schwarzenegger, a hulking white man, laying down a flaming barrage of high-caliber machine-gun fire into a hoard of humano-insect aliens trying to corner, and devour, the Austrian action-hero; there are so many, so close, that the spraying green ooze of their blood, and flying shredded body parts, are drenching Arnold, who screams, "You dem alien-noid bah-schtahdz, I vill eat yoo fur brrek-fast!!" Who cares. Jon switches again; who cares if frickin' Arnold the Kindergarten Cop gets eaten, serves him right, bonehead foreigner, ...he shoulda quit after Terminator.

...CNN. It's Larry King interviewing Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, who are clearly almost ready to rip each others' heads off. (Jon knows, of course, that Tommy would smash her effortlessly; he saw the footage of Tommy kicking that paprazzi's ass on Entertainment Tonight). Jon sticks with CNN for a moment: it's about other sex-tapes that either Tommy or Pamela are about to release of them screwing on a Las Vegas casino rooftop (Jon saw the first tape, of the blowjob on the boat, which his friend Matt's older brother had a copy of on his computer). Seems like Tommy has the tapes; figures, Kid Rock would never let Pamela give out tapes of her and Tommy, for no matter how much money. Jon wonders if Kid Rock could kick Tommy's ass; probably not, Tommy's a big dude. But Kid Rock probably has more posse, and guns, and shit... Pamela's gigantic breasts bob and bounce under a sequined halter-top, and Jon realizes he still has that tickly, tingly sensation in his penis.... He stays with CNN a bit longer, not hearing the interview, just fixating on Pamela, her glistening mouth, her breasts... he wishes she would get up and walk around, and bets she's wearing skin-tight pants, like in that girl-detective show she does. Larry apologizes his way into the commercial-segue, and a gleaming CNN logo voice-over proclaims, "CNN... information you can count on!" Jon switches:

The South Park kids have just caught some teenagers going at it on a marina dock, but it switches to a Burger King commercial ...Jon switches randomly through channels: a documentary of an intestine-removal operation, patient splayed out like a crimson gutted fish, muffled doctors explaining something that makes Jon sick just to catch a glimpse of... On Elimidate things have gotten ugly and a woman smacks a man for groping her while they were making out in the limo... On Fear Factor contestants for the Miss Ban de Soleil 2003 Beauty Pageant are moonlighting in hopes of boosting their careers by being conned into eating live cockroaches (Jon's seen this three times)... Some politician with unfeasible hair vehemently states, "Those who are responsible must, and will, pay... The American people demand, and deserve, this..." ...

Jon still feels aroused, for some reason, and rubs against the pillow ...back to MTV: another girl hair-product commercial, ...lame. Where else can he find chicks? Oh yeah, ...the Spanish channels!

"Jon, Jaz'...!?" their mother's voice calls from the kitchen, "Have you two gotten started on the second half of your homework-time...?! It's nine, get back to it for another half hour...!"

"I'm done with mine!" Jon lies.

No way, his mother knows. He struggles with math, and has twenty problems assigned tonight.

"Jaz...?" she calls. No answer. Mrs. MacKenna picks up the phone on the kitchen wall. Sure enough...

"Jaz, TVs and telephones off... it's nine."

Jazlyn cuts the conversation off abruptly with Jenn, and her Mom misses that she was crying in the curt,

"Bye, Jenn..."

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