This week I attended the State Street Summer Solstice Parade. I was happy to see streets lined with familiar faces and families with children. However, I was concerned with imageries presented to children, 1 to 13 years old in particular. As a UCSB graduate in Film & Media Studies and former newsroom employee at KEYT, I feel that I have an obligation to this community to raise concern when girls on wagons, in cages, half-clothed, are being objectified by grinding jail bars; the precursor to a float displaying a pole-dancing stripper high atop.
The following group was an incredibly fabulous dance routine, an enormous 50 to 100 dancers with bright pink feathers. However, this genius choreograph was followed by picture-framed people; one was a heavily painted witch accompanying two other witchlike characters, intentionally scaring children all the way down the street by giving them long, uncomfortable stares. They even creeped me out upon eye contact.
Children are incredibly impressionable. Developmental brain studies have shown that exposure to frightening imageries can damage children’s mental cognition, giving them nightmares, night terrors, dark-natured infatuations with negative identities, as well as leading to alarming rates of substance abuse, violence and incarceration in teen-adult years.
I would urge my beloved Santa Barbarans to consider pressing the Solstice Parade coordinators to show some future discretion, maybe some accountability checks and balances by more prudent members of the community, or post warnings to families that some imageries may not be intended or suited for children of certain ages.