Sugar and spice and self-image is the price

Imagine if you will five Brit pop singers, to the blatant public dismay of Americans, capturing the number one chart spot with just one song — their first. And then they brazenly continue producing successful singles — all off their debut album. But even this doesn’t stop them. Now they are tackling the film industry.
The Beatles trod these steps decades ago; now a new British breed is following their footsteps towards world domination. I am, of course, speaking about the Spice Girls. Yes, the world’s most beloved musical/variety group has created a new landmark, this time in the realm of the cinema.
On Sunday, I was “blessed” with the opportunity to see this cultural phenomenon. It was not the poignant filmmaking, the gorgeous cinematography, the far-too-tall platforms, the skimpy skirts or the sheer talent of the girls that made it phenomenal, though. The audience made the night stunning.
Before the film, my friends and I found ourselves transfixed with the poster outside the theatre. We positively identified each of the girls according to their Spice names. However, there was some debate as to which one Sexy Spice was. I was convinced that she was the obviously more seductive one, just left of center, donning a short Gucci number and a pair of pumps RuPaul would kill for. As I was explaining my reasons for choosing this girl over the others, an older gentleman and his companion passed by. The man was quick to point out that the one I thought was Sexy Spice was actually Posh Spice.
You can imagine my shock when this gentleman, probably not in the group’s target age group, corrected me. But what is the target age? Are they trying to appeal to every age group, or is it (much like their talent) an accident? The audience that night led me to believe that the Spice Girls are able to touch just about everyone. Members from every sect of our diverse culture were represented, from a 10-year-old girl, to her 42-year-old mother, to the teenagers in the front row, to me, to the older gentleman we encountered in front of the theatre, and a few folks in between.
I’m sure that every person had different motivations for seeing the movie (for me, it was footwear). Has there ever been an event so appealing to such a wide group? Perhaps “The Lion King” or another Disney cartoon. Even “Titanic,” estimated to be the biggest movie of the season, will not attract 10-year-old girls. At least not many of them. For the 10-year-olds who are turned off by romantic mush and scary shipwrecks, is the most appropriate film one in which the collective weight of five girls is about 400 pounds?
Should 10-year-old girls, or anyone for that matter, be told that, in the words of Scary Spice, “boys should be ordered like pizzas” and then, as Ginger Spice so eloquently put it, “be wheeled out until they are needed again?” Should our society be told that we must all fit stereotypical images, like molds imposed on us, and then when we try to break these molds, be repressed into them by our friends and co-workers?
In all fairness, I must state that for all its controversy, “Spice World” did offer something in the way of positive values. Like — hmmm — loyalty and one-night stands with co-workers!? So, I guess we can’t say it was all that bad.
Although the media has been under serious criticism lately for portraying negative images to the masses, we cannot blame the media for everything. Did the director, screenwriter and producers realize what kind of messages they were sending? Are the film and music industries aware of their impact upon society, especially children? Should children be watching this film? Should we expect our 10-year-old daughters, 65-year-old parents or grandparents or our 16-year-old brothers to “slam their bodies down and wind them all around?” Or “get it on, get it on, ’cause tonight is the night when 2 become 1?” (Not a good population control policy, at least.) Maybe what the Spice Girls need is a bit of seasoning.

Joel Dickinson is a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts.