Wine glass in-hand, at a cocktail party held by my architect friends, I systematically build my case like a lawyer. A handful of us graduate-level educated folks are engaged in a heated debate. We hit a stalemate as emotions run high. "Team Edward!" I chant for the last time. "Team Jacob!" yells a pregnant 30-something woman who works at a museum.
The Twilight movies--not politics, culture or science--dominate our social interactions.
It's not until hours later, in the clear and sober light of day, that it fully dawns on me. Like so many others in LA--frankly, in this country--I have been sucked into touting the brand of Lolita-banging pubescent porn spoon-fed to me by the studios, the publicists, Hollywood; in short, the youth-obsessed American media.
In the realm of movie stars, someone grown-up and classically masculine like George Clooney or Daniel Craig should make my knees weak. Instead, I've been Biebered, and Eclipsed--somehow swindled with kid gloves into seeing the fresh-faced and zit-challenged as romantic ideals and larger-than-life sex symbols.
I'm clearly not alone, if the 'soccer mom' demographic of Twilight movie fans is any indicator. And this, incidentally, goes way beyond the "cougar" designation championed by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Justin Bieber and the other boyish heartthrobs make the Punk'd star look like Sean Connery.
This trend is of course non-gender-biased as teeny-bopper tarts like Miley Cyrus are also part of it. However, the zeitgeist's female counterpart has forever been in existence in the U.S. (and to a large degree in 'little girl lovin' France and Japan).
Young girls like a pre-teen Brooke Shields, the Poison Ivy era Drew Barrymore, the Olsen twins, and most radically JonBenet Ramsey, have always been part of the accepted (but disturbing) media landscape. Wasn't it Marilyn Monroe's 'baby talk' that made her rise above some of the other equally gorgeous actresses of her day?
It's not shocking that this long-time adoration for youth has extended into the male realm. One might argue that it already did eons ago with the Greek's pedaphillic social mores. It's just that now--the playing field having been leveled--no one can cry sexism.
We can see this for what it is: an unhealthy (in my opinion), unabashed across-the-board Youth Mania. When SNL invites teens Bieber and Taylor Lautner to host, and NPR runs a "Team Edward or Team Jacob?" piece you know it's hit the tipping point into total societal dysfunction.
Here in LA, it has reached epidemic proportions. The Land of the Lost Boys, this town is rife with 50-year-old skaters or surfers sporting baggies and backwards baseball caps--hoping to 'live up to' the youthful ideal.
Whether they're middle-aged entertainment lawyers, ad agency directors or tech company founders, they look like aging members of a boy band. And though it's great that they want to retain an energized and youthful spirit, there is something undeniably sad and stunted about this media-fueled but self-accepted regression.
I'm not suggesting that we all--men and women--go back to the uptight grown-up days of Mad Men. With so many health-conscious, fit people in our midst (who don't look their age--some without plastic surgery and Botox), I just wonder why we--Hollywood and the media nation--are stuck in such a shallow and inappropriate groove.
At the end of the day, I guess I'm just a little afraid of the lack of age-appropriate boundaries. I'm scared for the teens--who, with hormones coursing through their bodies, will always lean towards sexual teasing and enticement. I'm afraid for the adults on the receiving end, who seem to have a form of age dysmorphia which could not only land them in jail, but block their personal growth and progress.
Most of all, I'm afraid for myself. If I don't remove those root beer goggles with which the media has provided me, the next guy I end up rubbernecking could be the son of the man I'm meant to end up with.