It’s a cold, cruel world out there, and I am not just referring to the nasty and seemingly never-ending winter many of us have experienced during the last few months.
The world can be an extremely hostile place for anyone who dares to challenge the over-sexualized messages that are the norm in just about every form of entertainment and mass media that permeates our society.
Don’t believe me?
Consider the case involving a family from the peaceful town of Chelsea, Mich. It serves as a reminder as to just what could happen when we push back against a culture that knows no limits.
Michael and Mary Stone believed they were doing the right thing when they complained about a song that was scheduled to be performed at the local high school choir concert — an event that involved their own teens.
The song, by the popular boy band One Direction, contains some pretty risqué lyrics — and that’s putting it mildly. It includes not only one too many sexual references but references to sexting as well. Now, one would think given the long list of problems associated with sexting among today’s media savvy teens and tweens in recent years, and the many sexting and online bullying horror stories that have made headlines, the school itself might take the Stones’ suggestions and maybe change the lyrics in the song for the performance or not perform the song at all.
Given that One Direction is featured in a video promoting Office Depot’s bullying prevention program, one would also hope the pop stars would have some sort of a clue that the parents might have a point. Or even if they disagreed, acknowledge the parents’ concerns.
Not a chance.
For starters, the school rebuffed the parents’ suggestions, so their teens and a few others sat out the concert. Next on the hit parade came a tweeting tirade, which led to a cyber attack on the family.
Apparently One Direction just could not stand the idea of having one — or heaven forbid, several — fans not going absolutely bonkers over every single song. So band member Louis Tomlinson decided it was a good idea to show the Stones a thing or two. The singer sent out nasty a tweet inferring that Michael and Mary Stone are frigid and backward crybaby parents who need to get with the sex-for-recreation program. Charming.
The only shred of decency shown toward this family came from the national spokesperson for the Office Depot campaign. Brooks Gibbs told the Ann Arbor News he applauded the parents for taking a stand for something they felt strongly about. He alluded to the fact that the tweet was quite hypocritical given that the band is involved in a campaign that promotes bullying prevention to more than 300 middle schools around the country and also donated $1 million to the cause.
“I am really bummed about his comments because it launched a cyber-attack on these two parents. I have no doubt that it caused a lot of harm to the students who refused to perform the song as well,” Gibbs said.
The Stone family has since said they are very proud of their children, who decided not to buckle under pressure and perform the song. And while One Direction seems to have taken a wrong turn in the case of the Stone family from Chelsea, Mich., maybe the Stones’ witness will encourage other families — as well as other young people — to do the same: to stand up against bullies promoting and profiting off of a culture of decay.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ava Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.