Study Hall Makes You Free

Written by J.R. Taylor on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.

There are
several reasons for my reticence. First of all, my source could be too easily
traced. I also don’t like dealing in information that reveals plot twists
or endings. That’s more of a job for people who make theatrical trailers
for major motion pictures.

Then, of
course, there’s the simple fact that whether Felicity ends up with Ben
or Noel hinges on a pathetic plot twist that’s typical of any lame soap
opera, which is typical of this supposedly quality television for idiot teens,
which remains the kind of thing that’s an important part of my daily life,
which makes me the only writer in America who isn’t being snide or ironic
when he pleads for someone to kill me now kill me now KILL ME NOW.

Oh, but
there’s no reason to risk a six-month jail sentence for homicide. The ACLU
and their Homeless Army of Doom will see me dead soon enough. (That acronym,
naturally, is HAD, as in, "That white devil HAD to be pushed in front of
the F train.") In the meantime, I’ll continue to toil and suffer in
teen culture. If anybody asks, though, I will maintain that my work actually
pertains to truly interesting post-apocalyptic theory. This is because most
teenage culture distinctly resembles the end of the fucking world.

Take a moment
to appreciate my great courage in approaching this subject. Writers are generally
terrified of making fun of teenagers. I goofed on a stupid 16-year-old a few
years ago, and Option wasted no time in quoting me as an example of what
happens when rock critics get old. That was actually my punishment for earlier
goofing on Option’s editors for being naive enough to believe that
Madonna introduced s&m to popular culture. It’s all false fear and
bravado, anyway. Even teenagers are aware that teenagers are morons. Only desperate
professional adolescents obsess over keeping their credentials as young and
stupid. That’s fine with me, though, since that kind of thinking provides
us with important publications like Teen People.

I read
Teen People
regularly, but would usually never mention the magazine in these
pages. This column is a responsible member of the hunting community and refuses
to bag more than our limit. As with Spin and Rolling Stone, each
issue of Teen People is full of enough assorted absurdity to easily fill
a column. I settle for tearing out pages that will later help me knock out a
quick holiday wrap-up of the year in stupidity. Here’re a few highlights
from Teen People’s October ’99 issue: Salma Hayek flaunts her
education while talking about the human race’s search for God: "We’ve
been on this planet for two thousand years." MTV intern Kalinda Vazquez
explains her taste in vintage fashion: "I actually wear a lot of my parents’
clothes from the 70s; some of the shirts are really authentic." And an
article titled "Where The Sidewalk Ends" reveals the plight of homeless
teens who sport expensive fashion accessories and wear cool rock t-shirts.

other reasons why I love Teen People. Say what you will about Pat Boone,
but he’s never pretended to be Little Richard. Teen People shows
the many busy faces utilized by today’s young businessmen. Orgy’s
Jay Gordon and the guys of Limp Bizkit are completely different personalities
when they’re kissing up to their teenybopper demographic–which, despite
the magazine’s title, is determinedly preteen.

gets a little less funny when you start considering that true readership.
It’s one thing to lie to intelligent teenagers. They will naturally rebel
while seeking out an individual identity. Teen People is busy trying
to brainwash average imbeciles who are barely into their adolescence. Corporate
indoctrination is often neatly summed up within the monthly "Now!"
calendar. Make your plans for Oct. 18: "Forget history–get
the herstory of women’s music with the R-E-S-P-E-C-T box
set ($70)."

But don’t
think indoctrination is all about shopping. There’s also National Pizza
Month and Gwen Stefani’s birthday. And look who’s the hunky dreamboat
for Wednesday, Oct. 6: "The attack that took Matthew Shepard’s life
occurred a year ago today. Fight intolerance!" Then, just one week later,
it’s National Coming Out Day. This is also Columbus Day, but why make that
the focus? Columbus helped kill the American Indians, you know. And the next
Saturday has Britney Spears and Joey McIntyre In Concert on the Disney

At least
Coming Out Day promotes diversity within Teen People. There’s an
article on two proud young lesbian couples, which marks the first time Teen
has ever run a picture of ugly fat women. Heck, this may be the first
time Teen People has ever run a photo of any young woman who isn’t
at least five pounds underweight. (Fortunately, a poll on pages 201 and 202
explains the importance of a healthy body image. These happen to be the only
pages without photo illustration.)

Coming Out
Day is also the focus of Teen People’s News Team Editorial Page.
This has four teens explaining why they’re so wonderfully sensitive about
not being threatened at all by the idea of homosexuals. There’s even a
Christian who–remarkably–doesn’t believe in beating gays on the
head with broken beer bottles. He’s a good Christian! The true
Teen People
spirit, however, is best expressed by Shawn Anderson of Spencerport,
NY. The 17-year-old explains, "We need to make tolerance and diversity
classes mandatory so that teens reevaluate how they treat others."

inherently funny, but I left out the punch line. Here it is, in full: "We
need to make tolerance and diversity classes mandatory so that teens reevaluate
how they treat others, especially minorities like gays." Shawn Anderson
looks like a pretty sturdy blond kid. He could probably beat some sense into
any of those Catholic students, or anyone else who has some kind of weird religious
objection to mandatory tolerance and diversity. Don’t think this is exaggerated
speculation, either. We’re coming out of the summer where Teen People
hooked up with Dateline NBC for their very first news special. It
was a careful look at teens and violence, which mentioned that jocks were pretty
much responsible for all those kids getting shot at Columbine.

The magazine’s
called Teen People. I can’t help but look at it and see the future.
Then I only make things worse by talking to teens in person. There was, for
example, my social experiment with a kid outside the big Orgy concert. He was
wearing a backpack that sported a sticker that said "Stop Hate!" There’s
a tragic statement from our young people. Anyone who’s anti-hate is also
anti-love…although that doesn’t interfere with the ability to get laid,
so why should a teen worry about that?

I casually told the kid that hate should never be stopped. "After all,"
I said, "there’s one group that it’s always okay to hate."

The kid
gave me a puzzled look, but then he saw I wasn’t some kind of racist kook.
He gave me a big smile and shouted his response: "Christians!"

I couldn’t
tell the kid that he had given a good answer. That would have been betraying
my own religion. I settled for giving him a high-five and telling him he had
given the correct answer. This much was true. The kid had been paying attention
in class. Not the classroom, of course, where contempt for Christians is only
taught through silent disdain. The kid had been paying attention in the classrooms
of Time Warner and Teen People. The kid will hopefully grow up to be
a really Godless evil person who eventually runs into another close relative
of Gerald Levin.

For the
record, the kid would have only gotten a B+ if he had said "Catholics!"
That would have shown a lack of imagination. Catholics get positioned as something
beyond hateful. Teens will learn this if any go to see the upcoming Stigmata,
which reinvents Christ as a demon and presents the Catholic Church as murderers.

Nobody has
to worry about protests, either. Anyone who’s offended has the sense of
humor of the Ayatollah. At least, that’s what Ben Affleck says in Teen
about anyone who complains about the upcoming Dogma. Never
mind that the Ayatollah was ousted as his ancient religion was destroyed in
the name of inventing the Las Vegas of the Eastern World. The Ayatollah should
have had more celebrity friends like the Dalai Lama. Teen People supports
the Dalai Lama, and no one even cares that his religion believes in willing
away homosexuality.

are frankly more tolerant about Coming Out Day, but why should Teen People
get so deep into a topic? The magazine can’t be bothered to examine too
much diversity. It’s best to celebrate homosexuality without any real context.
That way, teen people can grow up to be idiot adults who do things like petition
for the banning of Dr. Laura Schlessinger and her anti-gay beliefs. It doesn’t
matter that nobody ever listens to Dr. Laura without making a conscious choice.
Why treat someone’s belief system with equal value, when everybody feels
so good about gay rights?

gets to be genuinely frightening in its banality, and even that much
isn’t original. It’s a continuation of the early Sassy tradition
of being nonjudgmental and stomping anyone who dares to believe differently.
Teen People actually believes this is the path to adulthood. That’s
why the jocks at Columbine deserved what they got coming. And it’s why
Janet Reno still remains the definitive Sassy girl.

should put her on the cover. It’s a perfect match, as we’ve
all been reminded with Waco back in the news. I no longer bother trying to explain
why the Branch Davidians are true American martyrs. People can do the research,
or at least take the time to go watch the Academy Award-nominated Waco: The
Rules of Engagement
. Otherwise, you’re welcome to think I’m part
of a lunatic fringe that clings to the notion that there was a government conspiracy
to kill the Branch Davidians. You’re welcome to your ignorance.

But I worry
about a new generation that’s routinely taught that religion equals brainwashing
and guns equal crime. It’s even weirder to see entertainment magazines
routinely making the template for this unthinking intolerance. My issue of Teen
reads a lot more lately like Soldier of Fortune, and I just
don’t know how 90s kids are supposed to realize that it’s very, very
bad when people lie to you and tell you how to think.

The Rules of Engagement
was recently in the New Releases section of my local
video store, even though it originally came out on tape last year. This was
probably based on some mad retailer’s hope that recent news reports will
spark new interest in our government’s act of genocide. That’s not
likely. Today’s kids can’t get interested in any documentary that
doesn’t have staged events, dramatic recreations or a skewed sense of activism.
They need documentaries that look like network news.

But maybe
an old-fashioned 80s horror film could teach a similar lesson to that needy
teen audience. Especially an old-fashioned 80s horror film that nobody bothered
to watch the first time. Bad Dreams originally came out in 1988, and
was unfairly dismissed as a Nightmare On Elm Street ripoff. Today, people
might be a little more receptive to this look at an evil force in search of
control. The setting might even seem familiar to any teenager who’s accidentally
watched the news over the past six years.

Bad Dreams
begins with young Cynthia in the commune of charismatic cult leader Franklin
Harris. He’s busy baptizing his followers in gasoline as part of a big
Jonestown-style barbecue. Cynthia’s just a little kid, but she’s also
the only one who tries to escape the home as the group goes up in flames.

only gets far enough to make it into a 13-year coma. More girls should try this,
since Cynthia comes out of her coma looking like sexy young scream queen Jennifer
Rubin. She’s quickly sent into group therapy to adjust to a world where
The Electric Prunes are no longer popular recording artists. It doesn’t
take long before Cynthia starts seeing Harris walking the halls of the mental
ward. The scorched psycho then starts killing Cynthia’s fellow patients
in grisly ways guaranteed to make the pages of Fangoria.

In a bizarre
twist, however, Harris isn’t a Freddy Krueger-style knockoff. It turns
out that the evil Dr. Berrisford has actually been handing out hallucinogenics
to the folks in Cynthia’s group therapy, as a quick experiment in nefarious
mind control. Cynthia has just been hallucinating the charismatic cult leader
bogeyman. It turns out that her life is really endangered by the powerful authority
figure she has carelessly entrusted with handling her medical program.

This alone
should give the thickest teen some clue about the dangers of a nanny society.
It gets even better by the time Cynthia’s love interest figures out the
evil plot. Cynthia’s in the loony bin about to kill herself, and the good
guy has to open the cells of every nutcase in the hospital just to save an innocent

Let the
kids give that exciting development some thought. I can certainly relate. It
never seemed likely that I would ever support the rights of neo-Nazis, the JDL,
and the new Black Panther Party to store large amounts of weaponry. In this
day and age, however, my prayers are with the intolerant. And if the ATF ever
shows up at their doors, then I hope those neo-Nazis, the JDL, and the NBPP
don’t make David Koresh’s mistake. They should kill every damn ATF
man out there, then reload quickly for the FBI. That’ll teach their children