The maker of Beanie Babies has begun selling two plush girl dolls with the same names as the new First Daughters: Sasha and Malia. Coincidence? Not likely, a conclusion that First Lady Michelle Obama also apparently came to. Her office understandably took the Illinois-based toymaker to task recently for trying to make a buck off her kids. "We believe it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes," Ms. Obama's spokeswoman said.
Conservative blogger Todd Kruse, who lives in Apple Valley, praised Mrs. Obama's ire in a recent post on a relatively new site, Regular Folks United. And he offers up a thought-provoking take on the issue. If the First Lady is concerned about the Beanie Babies' maker exploiting her girls, why not take it a step further and crusade against the exploitation of young black women by media moguls and entertainers?
Kruse writes, "... I say -- you go girl but don't stop at criticizing Ty for these dolls Michelle. Your next target should be ... BET -- Black Entertainment Television -- which features a constant flood of rap videos which exploit young black girls (ok -- they are probably in their twenties) who serve as scantily clad, booty shaking props for the rap singers."
Black media certainly has no monopoly on the problem. This sad portrayal of young women (Britney Spears, anyone?) is epidemic on any channel that teens watch. As a parent, it's easy enough to deal with by limiting teens' TV shows. As a society, it's far more difficult because it quickly becomes a freedom of expression issue, with the specter of censorship hovering in the background. No one wants that. Still, these images aren't healthy.
Years ago, Al Gore's wife Tipper became the personification of prudishness after she crusaded for parental advisory labels on records. The lyrics (Prince songs came up often) that she thought were a problem seem almost quaint now compared to music videos and shows of today. Is it Michelle Obama's responsibility to launch a dialogue on this? Not necessarily. But it's a troubling trend -- one that needs to be more often acknowledged and addressed. Leadership from anyone is welcome.