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Hard Times… June 1, 2010

Posted by dailyfeminist in Uncategorized.
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I first read about the Hard Times of RJ Berger in an article posted to Yahoo news – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100601/ap_en_tv/us_ap_on_tv_hard_times As MTV’s own website indicates, the show is about socially awkward 15- year old boy who obtains respect and attention after he accidentally exposes his penis while playing in a basketball game.   As the actor who portrays RJ indicates in the video trailer, “the entire schools learns of his talent… RJ is extremely well-endowed.”  Talent??? Say it ain’t so.   But as the trailer continued, there was attention to issues of how sexuality is experienced in high school, and commentary that addressed the ways in which people become insiders and outsiders in school or other social settings.  Perhaps amid the expected low-brow humor and premise there will be a valuable lesson about interpersonal relations.    For more on the series from the folks who produce it, see http://www.mtv.com/shows/hard_times/season_1/series.jhtml

The first episode airs Sunday June 6th- I’m going to be watching, and will post my thoughts.    Although all series set in high school are ripe for feminist analysis, this one seems particularly valuable for consideration.  I, however, will do my best not to pepper my commentary with several dozen euphamisms for penis and erection.

For now, let me offer an mini-rant about the age  of the actors portraying high school students.   Paul Iacono, playing 15-year old RJ, is 21, while Jarbe Dauplaise (playing his best friend) is 31 years old.  The “ideal girl/love interest” is played by Amber Lancaster, aged 29.  The two other lead actors don’t list their birthdate in easily-accesible online sources.   When teen boys and girls view as their “peers” characters portrayed by people with much older body types, it sets up unrealistic expectations of how a person is supposed to look – especially those deemed the “beautiful people” (see the PSA on beautiful people syndrome via the Hard Times link above).   This recurs in shows like Gossip Girl, 90210, and One Tree Hill (esp the original version prior to the leap forward in time).   While I recognize that hiring actors over 18 makes filming easier (labor laws, schooling needs, inability to drive oneself to work), I simply cannot figure out why a 29 year old woman is hired to play a teenager.  If you can’t find the “look” you’re desiring among girls close to the right age, perhaps it’s because that look doesn’t exist among real teenagers.   And why is a 30-something male playing a high school sophomore?  Are there no good teen actors around?  And don’t get me started on the very white cast for a show on a TV station that caters to a very diverse teen demographic…. couldn’t MTV do better than this for one of their scripted shows?

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