Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Are Your Girls Reading Gossip Girls?

Time Warner, which brings us Big Love, The West Wing, and, well OK, let's be honest, The Lord of the Rings, now has a new series of books targeted to young-teen girls. Here's the blurb they crafted for the series:
Here in New York City's Upper East Side, the most fabulous teenagers in the world live, play and sometimes sleep with each other. Enter the scandalous world of Gossip Girls: a world where everyone is gorgeous, everything is fabulous, and jealousy and betrayal are everywhere you look.
... sleep with each other?! And those values! Materialism, jealousy and betrayal!

These girls smoke, drink, do drugs and have sex -- all for a target market that starts with 14 year-olds (although the books are available to younger girls who's parents aren't paying attention.)

The books come from the pen of Cecily von Ziegesar, who I thought was a fictional creation herself, but appears to be all too real. She's 32, but says she channels herself as a 16-year-old to write her books. No wonder Seventeen is so bad if the Gossip Girls are 16!

Her first Gossip Girl book made the New York Times best-seller list and her four-book contract was expanded to eight. She's since sold the TV rights and the British publishing rights.

Sin and corruption can be very good for the pocketbook, as long as you don't have a conscience that gets in the way.

As a public service, C-SM provides these excerpts from the Gossip Girl book, You're the One that I Want, which is previewed on Amazon.

Paragraph one:
Around the perimeter of the fountain lay sprawled the perfectly tanned and manicured bodies of Upper East Side high-school girls, smoking cigarettes and rubbing their legs with the latest Lancome tan invigorator ...
Right off, they're smoking. Thanks, Cecily, for helping us keep our kids off cigarettes.

Paragraph three:
Underneath her plain black Polo shirt and grey Constance Billard uniform she was wearing the new torquoise-silk-and-black-lace underwire bra-and-thong set she had bought at Barneys' lingerie department.
Sexiness gets established, and in Paragraph five, we get to sex:
"I promised myself that if I got into Yale, Nate and I would finally do it," Blair began.
And three quick paragraphs later, we get to profanity:
Blair closed her blue eyes and opened them again. "And if I don't get in ..." she paused dramatically. "Someone is going to f***ing pay."
Amazingly, the publisher offers a school edition of the books, and here's a review of one of the books from the School Library Journal:
Grade 9 Up--All the regular cast is present in this fourth installment in the series. Situations and alliances have shifted, but these are still beautiful, rich kids whose lives are the stuff of fantasy, and whose achievements seem effortless. Almost by accident, Dan gets a poem published in the New Yorker. Vanessa's film New York is used as a backdrop for an important fashion show. Serena lands a modeling job just by entering a clothing store. However, there is also a darker side to the characters' lives. Neglected and unloved by their self-centered parents, these teens are dying to be noticed. Nate gets busted for drug use. Within hours of meeting a new girl in group counseling, he ends up saving her life when she overdoses. Things don't go well for Blair, either. She's still trying to get into Yale after botching her interview in a previous book. In this installment, she's about to fall for the older man helping her repair the damage of her first interview--until she discovers that he's not separated from his wife and that his daughter is a freshman at her school. Soap operalike, the trials and joys of these kids continue. Teens interested in reading about the lives of Manhattan prep-schoolers are sure to devour this book.
Nary a word of caution or judgment ... and this from the folks that select the books our kids can check out from the school library!

Ach, my head hurts.

hat-tip: Laura Ingraham
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