iCarly Should Quit Promoting Bratty Behavior
Jennette McCurdy's call for youth kindness contrasts her TV persona.
One of the better perks of being a local news reporter is the occasional opportunity to meet someone famous. When Strongsville Patch Editor Debbie Palmer asked if I’d cover teen television star Jennette McCurdy’s tour stop at Southpark Center on Tuesday, I first wondered whether my sons would be interested in attending with me.
McCurdy, 18, who plays Sam Puckett on the Nickelodeon hit series “iCarly,” has just begun a nationwide shopping mall tour to promote her new single, “Generation Love,” and raise money for her chosen charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Interestingly, I banned iCarly from all televisions in my house about six months ago. To my sons’ horror, I used the handy-dandy parental control feature to block Nickelodeon and a few other channels that feature iCarly-like shows. I realized that iCarly and a few other sassy shows were modeling an awful lot of unpleasant behavior. Spongebob Squarepants might be animated, but he’s a rude dude.
My husband and I really couldn’t figure out where the new bad habits originated. We’d been seeing a lot more back-talking, name-calling and eye-rolling than we expected at our boys’ ages. It wasn’t until I actually sat and watched a few episodes of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows that I realized a lot of what entertains kids today is not what we want them to glorify.
Young people tend to imitate behaviors they see on television and in movies without realizing they're doing so. There's a reason so many parents are hoping Miley Cyrus fades from popularity very soon. Young girls love Hannah Montana, but Miley isn't so Hannah anymore.
The decision to ban Nickelodeon and other similar channels remains a very sore subject in my home. I wasn’t sure how my sons might react to the prospect of meeting McCurdy and watching her performance. I envisioned my 9-year-old being introduced to McCurdy and saying, “I love your show, but my mom hates it and she doesn’t let me watch it because she thinks you’re all very rude and obnoxious.” How’s that for hesitation?
I pitched the idea to my boys without promise of anything. I wasn’t sure I’d get an interview with McCurdy or even get close enough to the stage to see what she was wearing. None of that mattered, because my sons were over the moon. They certainly hadn’t lost their affection for iCarly. And what young male wouldn’t want a chance to see a gorgeous television star like McCurdy?
So I was cleared for press access and given 10 minutes to interview McCurdy on her tour bus parked outside the mall prior to the show. With my happy sons in tow, we boarded the bus and were greeted immediately by a vivacious and humble McCurdy. I was really taken aback by the sweet and gracious nature of this young woman. She spent our whole interview talking about her commitment to encouraging philanthropy and kindness among young people. I have no doubt that this is who McCurdy really is. Why must she portray such a snot on television?
As tempted as I was to ask that question, it wasn’t in keeping with why I was there to interview McCurdy. To avoid being thrown from her tour bus, I kept that thought to myself and dug deeper into finding out more about the charming and candid young woman.
McCurdy is passionate about helping children with terminally illnesses, a commitment even more endearing to her since learning recently that her mother’s cancer has returned after a long remission. She will donate all proceeds from her tour to St. Jude.
The more she talked about her desire to give her generation a better reputation, the more I wondered whether she realizes her work as an actress isn’t helping. I think it’s wonderful that she uses her celebrity to encourage kids to give of their time, talent and treasure to those who really need them.
It’s unfortunate that Jennette McCurdy and Sam Puckett must be two very different individuals. Even more unfortunate is that kids are far more exposed to Sam Puckett’s rolling eyes and sneers than the sweetness of the actress who portrays her. If more than 1,500 people were willing to brave long lines and lousy weather for a 15-minute concert appearance, then Sam Puckett is way more popular than she should be.
McCurdy is putting in an awful lot of work into this tour and donating a ton of money from it. That is an example worthy of high praise.
I realize that without iCarly, we probably wouldn’t know McCurdy from anyone else. A girl who aspires to make her generation known less for greed and impulsivity and more for generosity and love ought to dump her association with a television show that displays bratty behavior.