In all the brouhaha about Anthony Weiner, MTV got away with quite a lot this week. Maybe what happened on their air was dismissed because the audience was made up of mostly teenagers, but to me that's the principal point.
Sunday night MTV broadcast its annual movie awards. From the get go, the jokes were about penises and boobs. All in good fun. Haha. Also, the opening sequence was a spoof of the Hangover movies, meaning a homage to being blackout drunk. Again, all in food fun. In the first half hour, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis took the stage to give an award. Their scripted patter was a set-up for Timberlake to come from behind and cup his hands over Kunis' breasts and hold on. He said he could do it because they weren't dating but just friends. She responded by reaching behind and cupping his penis in her hand. There was laughter, rolling of eyes, and more laughter ... but otherwise, no consequences. Again, all in good fun.
While I understood this was sophisticated insider Hollywood humor, wink wink, nod nod, I thought about the kids at home, maybe an 11-year-old boy, watching, laughing, thinking how cool that Timberlake could feel up Kunis on national TV and it was okay. She laughed, after all. She didn't slug him or call the police. So, maybe a week from now, or two weeks, or whenever, that same boy tries it on a girl at school, thinking the response will be the same ... but instead she is appropriately shocked and offended, reports it to the school administration, and the boy gets suspended or worse. He's like, "What? Justin Timberlake did the same thing on TV."
The penis jokes, trilling from the lips of highly paid and glamorous stars, also find their way into the conversation of little kids, because they want to be like the celebs. It's cool. Getting blackout drunk is the same. I mean, you can't be more rad than Hangover II at the moment, and that's all about drinking for the purpose of blacking out. The glamour and fun is in being so drunk there is no memory. If it's cool in the movies it has to be cool in real life, too, right? What impressionable kid wouldn't aspire to that moment when he can emulate a rockin' hot Bradley Cooper?
How does that apply to Weiner and other politicians who have critically bad judgment about behavior? As I wrote earlier today, they live in a bubble, and the bubble protects them from low self-esteem, that whole in their soul that's never been filled, that little boy who grows up thinking you can get away with stuff if you're in power.
Politicians, I fear, have no concept of normal behavior, at least not if they've been in political life for a while. Moreover, they are protected from consequences--until they get caught. They seem to want to be Jack Kennedy, or whoever they believe he was, though, as far as I can tell, he never raped a hotel maid, impregnated the housekeeper, sent pictures to young women of his half erect penis, came on to another man through a bathroom stall, or queried male pages about masturbation. Seriously. I think he just got laid every now and then, sipped a martini, and got on with business.
It's interesting to me, though, that the MTV Movie Awards didn't cause a ripple. Oh, Robert Pattinson caused a buzz for an F-bomb. It made news only because the censors failed to bleep it, not because he said it. Every other presenter Sunday night fired off an F-bomb, almost as if part of the script. Utterly inconsequential.
What could MTV do about it? Aw, script a good show, think about the message, have a little soul. Connect the dots. Maybe next year. Until we start thinking about these things, woe is us.