Jell-O Wrestling. And My Thoughts.

Do you make a point to watch the evening news? If you don't, I'm not one to pass any blame. It's challenging to watch the evening news before bed; the stories often revolve around crime, a dismal political or economic outlook, or something tragic that happened in our country or abroad. I majored in journalism in college, and taught high school journalism for six years, so I understand the vital role the media plays as a 'watchdog' for our government and people of power. In debates about the 'swarthiness' of news organizations, I typically find myself siding with the reporters. Nonetheless, I'm still human, and still find myself gearing up for the evening news.

A few nights ago was no different, but when I watched a piece on our local news about a Jell-O wrestling "tradition" at the high school where I did my student teaching {seven years ago!}, I was astonished.

And appalled.

And did a *palm-to-forehead*


And was compelled to action.

You my friends, are witnessing a portion of that action.
{Beware, after this I'll begin my George Costanza-esque rant.}

First, and most importantly, check out this copy of the news story (which, you can tell, was slightly edited by a Jell-O wrestling supporter by text at the beginning of the video):


If you want more information before reading my thoughts, here's a news article that ran in the newspaper and online last year, after the event caught some serious attention. And here's another, an updated story, from this year {since the event has taken place many years}.

As a professional with a strong education background, and as a free-thinking young woman, I have a few thoughts about this topic, and they're best expressed in a letter to the students.

(I'm gettin' my George on...)

Dear high school student(s) who organized this event, and posted it on YouTube:
What were you thinking? Seriously. Have you lost your fricken mind? At what point is it socially and morally acceptable to ask girls to wrestle with each other in Jell-O in front of a crowd, then publish it on the internet for the world to see?

Ok, I understand what your rebuttal is going to be, "Adults do it all the time."

Lets move beyond the fact that adults, grown men and women, who are capable of making their own decisions do this sort of thing for money and/or notoriety. I get it. Adults do it. It's a financially lucrative operation.

But you're not an adult. You're a kid. You live at home with your parents. You sleep under an Avengers blanket in the basement. In no way do you have the life experience or authority to organize an event that demoralizes another person. Ever.

When you put the video of this event online, you furthered the outreach of your crappy choice. Dang, that was stupid. But again, you're a kid, so you don't really realize that what you are doing here is completely, totally, irreparably idiotic.

Perhaps you can save some face and make a few good choices in the wake of this, but most likely the damage is done. And that's pretty unfortunate because no one will forget this; but not in a good way.

Dear high school female participant:
Girl, you don't even know what's in store for your future. When I say "future", I'm not talking about tomorrow in the halls, I'm talking about in the days and weeks to come when your friend's parents, your teachers, your family members - and any other person who knows what YouTube is - finds out what you've done. They are going to look at you with a new set of eyes, and at first you might brush it off, but eventually it will get old. You might want to forget about that one night during Homecoming week where you wrestled with your friend in a pool of Jell-O.

You have made a name for yourself, and it's one that will follow you for quite some time. Soon, the people in your life will probably start treating you like the young lady you made yourself out to be: A woman with little self-respect, and willing to do just about anything for some attention. That's not the woman you are, but they don't know that.

What I hope doesn't happen, but could, is that you begin to think that you really don't have any class, that there's no reason to respect yourself, and that you are a woman of little self-worth. Pretty bird, you are not those things - never were and never will be - but a lot of people are going to judge you. I hope you're tough enough to handle it.

Dear high school student and community "bystanders":
While watching the video, which was shot and released by, I would assume, a fellow teenager, I felt a sense of nausea and anxiety sweeping over me. I became anxious watching two young women rip each other by the hair and pummel each other into a baby pool filled with Jell-O. Could I assume you also felt that wave of sickness also pass through your body as you watched your classmates do this to each other?

Probably not, because you supported this event by attending or not preventing it. Some day you will learn the serious role that bystanders play in our society. You'll learn that they are just as much a part of the tragedy as those who were directly involved in it.

You are also a bystander if you are a parent of one of the female participants, student who organized the event, or you let your child attend this event.

According to one of the articles I linked above, “A majority of students don’t see an issue with it, and sadly, there are a number of parents that support the event and created Jell-O for it,” [High School Principal Rich Powers] said....

Your actions, dear misguided parent, cause me even more angst than the hundreds of children - yes, children - that are huddled around that pool of Jell-O. Your role as a parent, the same as my role as a teacher, puts you in a position of authority, and puts you under more intense scrutiny when events such as this arise. Shame on you for allowing your child to participate in the degrading, tasteless activity that will not be forgotten. This activity will follow these students around for the rest of their lives and you, by your actions - or lack of action - made sure of it.

...

End rant.



1 comment:

  1. "Parents..support the event and created Jell-O for it." ??? This firmly falls into the category of, "What were they thinking?" Oy vey. With parents like that, it's no wonder the kids thought it was perfectly okay. Great letter.

    ReplyDelete

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