A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this TV movie directed by popular comedian Nick Cannon is filled with stereotypes that divide teens into one-dimensional groups like jocks, geeks, and mean girls. The school’s snob queen uses peer pressure on her friends, harasses her enemies, and uses the Internet to humiliate a girl after she flirts with the girl’s boyfriend, all without repercussions or due justice from adults. Some of the teens use a lot of slang words ("krispy" and "'tude," for instance), and accompanying pop-ups offer definitions for viewers who aren’t familiar with the terms. What’s more, the hour-long movie has the feel of an elongated ad for a music trio’s music, as the content breaks for five music videos throughout the story.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
SCHOOL GYRLS is a musical comedy that centers on the eponymous, real-life teen pop group consisting of Mandy Moseley, Jacqueline (Jacque) Ray Pyles, and Monica Parales (a.k.a. Mo Money). The trio star as newcomers to an exclusive private high school where they’re thrown together as roommates and discover a common passion for music and dance. With a penchant for trouble and a deep rivalry with the school’s resident popularity snob, Mandy, Jacque, and Monica enter a teen competition in an effort to dance their way to respect from their peers.
Is it any good?
First, the good news. To call this trio of starlets "talented" is to commit a serious understatement. Their individual talents in song and dance complement each other so well that it’s difficult to not like them, and tweens are sure to be drawn to the energy and excitement they display in their musical numbers.
That said, there are a lots of reasons for parents to take issue with the messages School Gyrls offers tweens, and girls especially. In its brief 60-minute format, the movie shows examples of bullying (including one instance of cyberbullying), peer pressure, and theft, none of which has real-world consequences. Stereotyping is also a big concern here, and it goes beyond the typical casting of high school students as jocks or cool kids, incorporating cultural stereotypes as well. Weak attempts to inject cookie-cutter values like honesty and self-esteem can’t redeem the movie’s pitfalls, so truly positive content is at a minimum in this music-driven movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying and cyberbullying. How would you define bullying? Have you ever witnessed or been subjected to bullying behavior? How was it handled? What recourse do bullying victims have?
Tweens: How prevalent is imbedded advertising on TV or in the movies? Have you noticed it in your favorite shows? Did you get the sense that this movie was attempting to promote the pop group’s music? Are you more inclined to listen to the trio's music because of the movie? Why or why not?
Parents and tweens can talk about stereotyping. What examples of stereotyping exist in this movie? Did you feel they were extreme, or are they comparable to what you see in other shows, movies, or real life? Is stereotyping ever acceptable? How does our tolerance of it differ between entertainment styles (comedy to drama, for example)?
For kids who love music
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