If there is an American left who hasn't seen Britney Spears cluelessly writhing about the stage in her sequined underwear during the recent MTV Video Music Awards, take note: We envy you. Despite the abundance of stories about admirable young adults out there, Americans insist on broadcasting, writing about, watching and talking about the saddest cases of unbecoming conduct among the gifted and well-off.
But radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham sees the wholesome light at the end of the tunnel. Ingraham's new book, "Power to the People" (Regnery Publishing), speaks for "the people." She represents those who don't have the loudspeaker she has. And while "Power" chronicles a lot of what's wrong in culture and politics, it also points out that many people are actively doing the right thing (unlike some suggestive media types). For example, while we may have an illegal-immigration problem, it turns out voters aren't going to let nonenforcement of our nation's laws stand. They're not going to let Congress make it worse. They're not going to surrender to rule-breakers and patronizing lawmakers. And they're also not going to allow the "pornification" of America to continue.
TV talk shows love to get Ingraham on to talk about pornification because sex sells -- and because they can use her appearance as an excuse to shrink the fully clothed Ingraham and fill the majority of your TV screen with Britney's subpar but extremely revealing VMA performance. Maybe they'll treat you to Paris Hilton slinking on a wet car, selling hamburgers -- or any number of other inappropriate clips.
Despite an oversexed media peddling untalented starlets, there are plenty of American youths who aren't taking the smutty bait. I became aware of Rashida Jolley in a book that came out this summer, "Girls Gone Mild" (Random House) by Wendy Shalit.
Jolley is a Washington, D.C., native, born into a big, loving family. Her father's attitude was clear, as Shalit relayed: If his daughter got pregnant or had sex at all, and he found out about it, she would "have to move to another planet," so it was a given that she would be abstinent. This may sound tyrannical, but it helped her come to a mature understanding of sexual morality. "It wasn't about our parents anymore, but realizing that we wanted to be respected in all aspects of our lives," Jolley recalls.
Jolley is a powerhouse because she insists on shining her light and getting that message out. She says that when she speaks to city kids, the overwhelming majority applauds her.
The Guttmacher Institute and Centers for Disease Control report that teen-pregnancy rates are on a slight decline. And the Disney Channel's "super wholesome" (as TV Guide puts it) series "Hannah Montana," about a high-school girl with a secret identity as a rock star, is a hit.
These are some signs of hope to latch onto.
Ingraham suggests that you should be your children's media guide, and Shalit notes that it's not going to be right-wing screeds (however well-written) that are going to change the culture. It'll be parents, good teachers, grounded media moguls and clean teens.
So let's get to work. You know what beats a washed-up pop tart.