As Young Hollywood goes, so goes Small Town America... eventually. About a year and a half ago I did a post about all the hubbub surrounding the news that nude photos of High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens had hit the web. In classic yet ridiculous 21st century fashion, this phenomenon now has a name: sexting. I'm a big fan of the Rick Vaughn school of thought that says "if you get a piece of it, you can name it" which would mean that rather than sexting, we should be calling it Hiltoning, but that's just me.
No matter what you call it, it is here to stay. Some fads are born in Hollywood and die there; only ever mentioned again on a VH1 special years later. However, once they become prevalent in sleepy little place like Spring Grove PA, they are here forever. Two freshman girls at Spring Grove Area High School are at the center of a storm that hit when they sent out nude photos of themselves to classmates. Freshman! As in 14 or 15 years old. Born in 1994 or 1995! The school has sent a letter to parents to address the topic, but the genie is out of the bottle. Not even the threat of a felony conviction on child pornography charges will stop some of these kids from circulating their nude pics. That is because, for many of them, it just doesn't seem like a big deal to lay yourself bare on the web, figuratively or literally.
Back in '07 when I blogged about the Hudgens story I wondered what would make a young person expose this type of image to the world. I'm a strong believer that the youth of today will go out of their way to do online what would normally be done IRL. Whereas sports begot Wii, and talking gave way to texting now even awkward teen sexuality has gone digital. Gone are the days where you reluctantly let a member of the opposite sex see you nude for the first time in your parents basement or the backseat of your car. Now, that awkward moment lasts a lifetime, and is easily mass distributed to everyone in third period French.
Or, put more succinctly: If the movie 16 Candles were to be remade today, and give it time, it probably will, the big embarrassing scene would be very different. Rather than being humiliated because she "gave her panties to a geek", Molly Ringwald's character would be shamed because she hadn't waxed before sending out that picture to the whole sophomore class. Parents do a lot of worrying about sexual predators out there, but what they should be looking out for is who their own kids think is cool. And the stakes are higher than ever, because in our world today, your mistakes will live on in a string of zeros and ones for ever.