Sweet (?) Little Sixteen

A New York Times piece awhile back addressed the excesses of a rite-of-passage as exemplified by MTV’s program, My Super Sweet 16. Yes, MTV, whose thoughtful shows for adolescents include such educational gems as Tiara Girls, Date My Mom, Fresh Meat, and, of course, Beavis and Butthead.

Rich folks will spend the equivalent of the gross domestic product of a small nation for their sweet baby girls.

Times writer Lola Ogunnaike, picking up on a story about the program that appeares in TIME Magazine reports on the situation with a few representative anecdotes:

Aaron Reid, son of the music mogul L. A. Reid, took five months to plan his party. He had just moved to New York from Atlanta and was eager to make a name for himself at his new prep school, to establish himself as more than L. A. Reid’s son. His invitation was an MP3 player. At his party, held at Jay-Z’s 40/40 club last November, the producer Jermaine Dupri was the D.J., the rapper Kanye West performed, and Diddy, Aaron’s godfather, made an appearance. Poppa Reid clearly pulled some strings.

”Everybody else spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, but I didn’t spend anything,” Mr. Reid said proudly. ”I got my friend’s club. I got my friend to perform and I got my friend to D.J.”

”There’s absolutely no way that I would ever spend that type of money,” he continued. ‘‘I think it’s over the top and sickening and a real poor representation of wealth.” (emphasis added)

In other words, it’s all right to throw an outrageous party costing tens of thousands of dollars as long as you don’t have to actually pay for it.

Ogunnaike continus with the story about a joint birthday-graduation party for two daughters of a cardioologist who immigrated to the United States from India in the mid-1980’s.

”It’s the American way. You work hard and you play hard.”
Born with silver ladles in their mouths, his daughters have certainly mastered the latter.

Their Bollywood-themed party for 500 guests will be held in the family’s backyard –all 4 1/2 acres, behind the 10,000-square-foot house. The Format, their favorite band, will perform. And they will make their grand entrance on litters, during an elaborate procession led by elephants. The sisters, who plan to perform a choreographed routine at their to-do next month, are also taking dance lessons, and they’ve enlisted the help of a trainer.

”We both want to lose three pounds,” said Priya, who received a Mercedes convertible and an assortment of diamond jewelry for her birthday. Her sister’s graduation gift package included a Bentley, diamonds and two homes in India.

”I was really surprised,” Divya said, ”because I was only expecting a Bentley and one house.”

Who says you can’t raise kids with reasonable expectations anymore?

According to the TIME piece by Ana Marie Cox:

To witness such unself-conscious acquisitiveness in one sitting is like eating an entire normal-kid birthday-party sheet cake, wax decorative candles and all. There’s the same queasy sense of monochromatic excess because all the shows are alike, from the fake panic that the party may not happen to the scary-sexy dry humping on the dance floor.

Chuck Berry was prescient in his song on the subject, written almost 50 years ago:

Sweet little sixteen
She’s got the grown up blues.
Tight dress and lipstick.
She’s sportin’ high heel shoes.
Oh, but tomorrow morning
She’ll have to chang her trend
And be sweet sixteen
And back in class again.

Except I would expect these guys to cut class…or have mummy and daddy pay someone to attend for them.


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