Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Breaking News

As I sit down to write about Malkin's latest column, I feel I should say that I would never want to trivialize cutting. It's a terrible problem that does, in fact, appear to be an epidemic. I'll tell you what does trivialize cutting: Blaming Hollywood for it.

First of all, I can't resist a graf or two on how hopelessly out of touch Malkin is. From the name of the column: The new youth craze: Self-mutilation to this:
There is even a new genre of music -- "emo" -- associated with promoting the cutting culture.
Well, let's leave aside the fact that the music usually called "emo" is almost as new a genre as "grunge." I was surprised to read that there are "emo" bands - The Used appear to be in the forefront, at least after a cursory google search - who sing about cutting, and that apparently kids are associating "the emo lifestyle" with cutting.

But self-mutilation is not new. The "craze" isn't new. It dates back to at least Sophocles. From the timeline:
Modern psychiatric interest in self-mutilation was marked by a 1983 paper by Pattison and Kahan. Using 56 published reports, Pattison and Kahan classified self-mutilation on the basis of lethality, method, and repetition, constructing a chart in which all self-damaging behaviors could be classified.

I have no expertise whatsoever in this field, but Malkin's column just screams of a lack of understanding about this issue.
This madness would not be as popular as it is among young people if not for the glamorizing endorsement of nitwit celebrities such as twentysomething actress Christina Ricci.
Maybe instead of castigation, Ricci needs serious help. Who really needs help are the self-mutilating teenagers, mired in mental illness. And help does not come from yet another anti-Hollywood diatribe.

But it probably made Malkin feel better.

Addendum: I let this go, but a friend read the column and his head almost exploded when he got to this sentence, so I guess I'll address it:
The destructive practice has been depicted in films targeting young girls and teens (such as "Thirteen").
"Thirteen"? Are you kidding me? Do I have to explain why an R-rated independent film that was released in a very limited way is not targeted at young girls and teens? That's like blaming "Traffic" for a rise in drug use.

Addendum 2: Am I the only one with this take on Malkin's column? Happily, No!