There it is! That’s the Zits comic I saw in Monday’s paper. Zits is my favorite comic strip. It follows the adventures of a teenager named Jeremy as he finds his way through the maze of adolescence in contemporary youth culture. His clueless parents try to “find” him while he’s immersed in his own journey. It bothers me just a little bit that his clueless father is named. . . Walter.
Every now and then Zits gets me thinking about cultural realities that deserve our attention. Things like trends that we should notice, respond to, and perhaps even work to reverse. Our growing obsession with “hot” as the central goal of personal identity and as a prerequisite for relationship. . . that’s a big issue these days. Ever notice those Facebook photos? The self-obsessed self-portraits? The attempts to not only be “hot,” but to be seen and liked and commented on as “hot”? It’s pervasive.
“Hotness” is so destructive. For one, the standard for “hot” is so high that no human being is able to achieve it. We’re always trying to get there, but always left wanting. “Hotness” leads us to objectify others and ourselves. People are not people. They are commodified. “Hotness” is killing marriage. When a person’s “hotness” is what draws us to them, the inevitable forthcoming “cool down” period makes marriages go cold. If all we’re committed to is having a “hot” spouse. . . well, time and gravity will some day ruin it all for us. . . and for our spouse as well. On the upside, it just might be our commitment to “hot” that saves our economy. We spend billions of dollars every year to remain “hot” in the eyes of ourselves and others. And when we start to “chill,” we spend even more money to cover it up and fool the world into thinking that we’re still “hot.”
Could it be that a powerful apologetic for the truth and reliability of God’s Word is found in I Samuel 16:7? “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Wow. . . that sure tells the truth, doesn’t it?
How’d we get here? One of my heroes is Jean Kilbourne. She’s been unpacking, explaining, and challenging our obsession with “hotness” for years. Her book Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising rocked me when I first read it years ago. It’s worth a look.
Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted this video clip of Kilbourne speaking on a college campus. She does that quite a bit. Students need to hear her message. Maybe this is a clip you should show to the kids you know and love.