....LMB: "Won't Someone Please Think of the Children!"....

December 11, 2003

I first heard this "news" story some months back on a local newspaper website somewhere, and it only took moments to set off my bullshit detector. As the weeks passed, I saw the story pop up again and again in local TV reports, local papers, etc.

It's about those colorful, rubbery translucent bracelets that are a fad with teenagers right now.

News reporters began telling lurid tales about how these fashion accessories are nicknamed "sex bracelets" because of a sexual game that its wearers play. You see, each color corresponds to a sex act, and if someone snaps or breaks off one of your bracelets, you must perform that sex act with them.

Okay, let's say you're a 13 year old girl walking down a school hallway with your friend. Some boy comes screaming by, and you feel your arm get wrenched forward. Boy comes back leering, holding a bracelet that you bought at the mall that weekend with your own money. He's just snapped it in two. Your wrist and shoulder hurt. Is your reaction to a) go to have sex with this stupid young man, due to the sacred laws of "sex bracelet", or b) slap him and call him an asshole?

When I was in high school, there was a game like this with the pull-tabs from cans of soda. Supposedly, if a boy gave one of these tabs to a girl, she was supposed to kiss him. And if the pull tab he gave her had the little metal circle on the bottom intact, she was supposed to have sex with him. This lead to much pulling of tabs by the boys (double entendre slightly intended), but to absolutely zero kissing and sexing. The only difference between my stupid teen game and this one is that mine didn't make the nightly news.

What's hilarious is that half of the news reports about "sex bracelets" talk about the game, and then point out that most of the teens their reporters talked to don't play it, or have never heard of it. One even said that many teens were not learning about the game from each other, but from these reports on the news. Begging the question, "what are you fuckheads in the newsroom doing?"

So today, we get another "story", from the AP, questioning whether or not this story is true, or just an urban legend. Even in partially admitting they fucked up they get more mileage out of it.

This is a combination story. On the one hand, it's the "parents, you should be very afraid for your children!" story. And on the other hand, it's a "ooh, we get a chance to talk about a lurid, taboo topic like teen sex!" story. Almost makes you long for reports on good old fashioned murders.

Posted by Jake at 08:35 AM | TrackBack (0)
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Al Tompkins at Poynter has written from time to time this year on this subject, but with a degree of skepticism that started fairly high and only grew from there.

I also figured it was BS, but as this story shows, we've got enough to worry about with respect to teen sex without dragging urban legends about fashion accessories into the mix.

Posted by: Lex at December 12, 2003 07:10 AM

Whoops. Don't take link tags, do you? The story is: http://www.news-record.com/news/education/youthrisk_121203.htm

Posted by: Lex at December 12, 2003 07:28 AM

They really are ... "Lying Media Bastards".

Posted by: Woody at December 12, 2003 09:08 AM

Heard this around too--severeal locals newscasts and obviously the AP article today appeared in our paper. My Drama teacher was like is this true, she was higly skeptical and has great intuition/actual knowledge of teenage life. She couldnt believe it-none of us had heard of it either. If there were that many skanks walking around--well damn.

Posted by: Buddy at December 12, 2003 05:52 PM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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