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You may have missed it, occurring as it did during the holiday break, but those stalwart defenders of morals at the Times offered up an Editorial Observer column from one Lawrence Downes which posited the immemorial question, What's the matter with kids these days? Downes sets the scene thusly:

It's hard to write this without sounding like a prig. But it's just as hard to erase the images that planted the idea for this essay, so here goes. The scene is a middle school auditorium, where girls in teams of three or four are bopping to pop songs at a student talent show. Not bopping, actually, but doing elaborately choreographed re-creations of music videos, in tiny skirts or tight shorts, with bare bellies, rouged cheeks and glittery eyes.
They writhe and strut, shake their bottoms, splay their legs, thrust their chests out and in and out again. Some straddle empty chairs, like lap dancers without laps. They don't smile much. Their faces are locked from grim exertion, from all that leaping up and lying down without poles to hold onto. "Don't stop don't stop," sings Janet Jackson, all whispery. "Jerk it like you're making it choke. ...Ohh. I'm so stimulated. Feel so X-rated." The girls spend a lot of time lying on the floor. They are in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

Hot, right? But there's more.

Downes goes on to blame the usual suspect: feckless parents, frightened administrators, our hypersexualized culture ("It is news to no one, not even me, that eroticism in popular culture is a 24-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet, and that many children in their early teens are filling up." Ah, so that explains the obesity epidemic!), a "cramped vision of girlhood," Janet Jackson, etc. Downes, who attended the performance with his ten-year-old child, regrets that other parents "allow the culture of boy-toy sexuality to bore unchecked into their little ones' ears and eyeballs, displacing their nimble and growing brains and impoverishing the sense of wider possibilities in life."

A tipster has managed to identify the school at which the variety show took place, and has a request: "Some student must have slapped up a bunch of clips onto YouTube or MySpace. Anyone able to track these down? I mean, if we can see Saddam swing, surely we can see a bunch of 11-year-old girls tramping it up." Anybody want to help out? You know where to find us. Anyway, nice the see the Times writing about something other than nanna porn.

Middle School Girls Gone Wild [NYT]