My Beef with Spring Breakers

selenaIt happens to all of our favorite Disney darlings—They grow up.

We’ve been big fans of  Wizards of Waverly Place at our house for years. Selena Gomez (aka Alex) is one of our faves. She’s a cool, quirky chick. Needless to say, we are dying for the wizards to return on March 15 in Alex vs. Alex.

I’m less excited about the movie Spring Breakers. Here’s why.

I understand that kids grow up (mine are doing it right this second). Child actors get typecast and want to do something more grown up. It’s nothing new. I  mean, it might actually be more interesting and less of a cliche if they didn’t always, always head down the same path, but it’s OK. I get it.

And I am a grown up. (I’ve been one for a while.) I’m responsible for my kids. It’s not Selena Gomez’s job to raise them. I get it.

Spring Breakers, Gomez’s new movie with fellow Disney break-out Vanessa Hudgens, is rated R. It’s not for kids. My family will not, of course, see it. However, all of my kids—2 boys and 2 girls ages 5 to 15—have seen promotional material for it.

You might say I need to lock it down more and be more careful. And maybe you’re right. But my older kids are online and my little girl is often over my shoulder coloring while I’m working and ads pop up. It’s not surprising my kids perk up when they see “Alex.” Millions of marketing dollars have been spent to create just this effect.

My kids see Alex, they want to click. My little girl sees Alex AND Gabriella from High School Musical? Get out of town! “What is that movie, Mom?!” Of course she’s interested.

I have to teach my children discretion. I will. I don’t count on Hollywood to do that, for sure. But here’s the thing: Spring Breakers is capitalizing on it.

Director Harmony Korine has this to say about his film,

The movie came to me like a dream. I had been collecting spring break imagery for a couple of years. From fraternity sites and online pornography. . . I started looking at it and I liked the world and the colors and the feel of it. There were all these hyper-sexualized, hyper-violent subjects. But then there’s all these interesting, child-like details. Nail polish. Bags. Stuff like that. I just imagined girls on a beach in bikinis robbing fat tourists.

“Child-like details.” Child-like details. It’s his prerogative to make this movie, certainly. But those child-like details that he flippantly links to pornography are of great interest to my children, my real children.  In a word? Gross.

It’s one thing to talk abstractly about film and art and satire. It’s another thing to have an actual 13-year-old daughter trying to make her way through the hyper-sexualization of young women, a 5-year old who only wants to “click on Alex,” and 2 sons who will—no thanks to movies like Spring Breakers— learn to respect and not exploit women.

It’s not Selena Gomez’s fault. It’s not even Harmony Korine’s fault. But it is treacherous.

Photo credit:  Terry Richardson for Harper’s BAZAAR.

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