King Of The Hill Accurately Depicts Adolescents
“I hate being an only child,” Emilia thought to herself while she stared into the mirror. Lately all Emilia could think about is the fact that her thirteenth birthday was a week away. Would the fact that she would be a teenager change the way her parents and friends look at her? Emilia thought about her best friends. They were all at least eight months younger than her. She had always been there leader, but lately it seemed like her friends new more about growing up than she did. Of course, being an only meant that she didn’t have anyone to look up to. Emilia didn’t know who she was supposed to be. She didn’t know how she was supposed to act. She didn’t know how she was supposed to look. Her parents tried to lead her but they were too old to know anything. They hadn’t been in their teens for twenty years! The only thing that she could look to would be her television. The television is like an all knowing being that can tell you anything you need to know. Now Emilia isn’t stupid and she knows that not all television shows actually display what a teenager normally goes through and does. However, she does know of one show that could be exactly what she needs. Does King of the Hill accurately depict adolescents growing up?
The King of the Hill episode accurately depicts adolescence and growing up as an adolescent in many ways. The main thing that it shows is the changes of puberty. The changes will bring on a whole new perspective on life. The episode brings up the subject of how other adolescents view puberty as well as how adults view puberty. The changes of puberty aren’t all physical. Moral development is demonstrated numerous times during the episode. This is demonstrated through the actions of the characters. Other actions into puberty are initiation rites. King of the Hill illustrates the importance of initiation rites to becoming a teenager. The rites are illustrated through a series of events that unfolds during the episode. When you become a teenager you will search for your sexual identities to find out what is considered masculine or feminine, as well as where you fit into those categories. This also means that they are searching for their sexual role and what society wants them to become. All of these aspects are depicted through illustration and dialogue. Nevertheless, not all aspects of development were shown in the episode. This is most likely because they were not able to due to time.
King of the Hill accurately depicts puberty and adolescents. Puberty is the physical changes that accompany adolescents. This is the sexual maturation of the young person. Maturation is the internally programmed growth, meaning that you cannot change your growth rate. Hormones trigger a series of internal and external changes. These changes can be different for boys and girls. For boys around twelve they develop pubic hair and larger genitals. They develop some fatty tissue, but it is quickly lost. They go through spermarche, which is their first ejaculation. About twenty-four to twenty-seven months after the spermarche a boy will go through a growth spurt which includes the broadening of the shoulders along with the thickening of the trunk. Their muscle tissue will increase and their voice will deepen. They will also develop more body hair everywhere and will get zits. For Joseph, his maturation occurred much sooner and quicker than Bobby. Joseph developed a small moustache, arm pit hair, stretch marks, zits, and a huge growth spurt of over six inches over a small amount of time. Joseph’s changes make sense because everything we know about puberty and the transformation that occurs during puberty is happening to Joseph. Joseph would be considered an early bloomer. We know this because in contrast to Bobby, who is a late bloomer, he is much farther along in puberty. Bobby has not developed at all and still possesses his child like body. He has the fatty tissue, but it seems that he will be chubby his whole life. This is known because of Bobby’s eating habits. Joseph and Bobby show both the extremes of puberty as one is an early bloomer and one is a late bloomer for boys. For girls the ages and changes are different.
For girls they will get their growth spurt around ten years of age and like the boys, will get fatty tissue right before the spurt. On average most girls will go through mecharch (beginning of menstruation) around twelve and thirteen. Their breasts and hips will then begin to fill out and they will develop pubic, leg, and arm pit hair. For Connie, different parts of her body are maturing at different rates. She has commenced menstruation and has zits. However, the rest of her body is lacking the maturation to become curvier by her breasts and hips filling out. She would be considered a late bloomer like Bobby. The episode doesn’t get too in-depth with Connie’s development. This is probably because of time. Puberty for both boys and girls were illustrated in the episode with a before picture and an after picture. The picture that Bobby shows to his grandfather that contains Joseph, Connie, and himself exemplifies that all three of them started puberty at the same level. The most prominent example would be their heights. Afterwards, the height of Joseph compared to Bobby and Connie are dramatically different. This can bring on positive and negative reactions.
Reactions from adults are shown in this episode through dialogue. Many adults will admire young people when they show determination and strength. That reaction could turn quite easily and adults may feel threatened by the young adults. In this episode the primary example of a reaction to puberty from adults is from Dale. Dale is Joseph’s father and he marvels at Joseph’s growth. He is constantly asking Joseph “How’s the weather up there”, and believes that Joseph’s hormones may get out of control. We know this because Dale talks about the Oedipal conflict from Freud’s Theory of Psychosexual Development. This is that a boy’s wish to possess his mother sexually is coupled with hostility toward his father. In order to reduce his fear from the same sex parents, the child begins to identify with the parent of the same sex. Dale misquotes and says that Joseph will possess Dale’s mother, but it is made known that his hormone changes have not gone unnoticed. Therefore Dale’s reaction to puberty is to joke around with his son. Another reaction from Dale is that he gave Joseph more chores around the house. He believes that he is ready for more responsibility. Reactions from other adolescents are different.
Adolescents will look at male and females in different ways. They will react to early and late bloomers differently. The changes have a tendency to make individuals somewhat self-conscious. When adolescents look at early female bloomers, they will see that she is noticed by older boys and has become bossy. This is because the female early bloomer will distance herself because they feel that they don’t fit in. Their confidence is shaken and they will try to compensate by taking charge. For early blooming males, adolescents will look up to them and rally around him. The early blooming male becomes everyone’s role model. The late blooming female will tend to get along with everyone. Otherwise, they don’t feel they fit in. They will also tend to make light of the situation or retreat. With Connie we don’t see how she reacts to her late blooming. This is because of lack of time in the episode. For the late blooming male, they feel left out because even the girls have outgrown them. They feel physically inferior and inadequate. This will cause them to overcompensate, which leads to either success or failure in life. Bringing you back to puberty and physical changes, the physical growths have powerful psychological effects because the adolescents haven’t formed identities yet. They stress on the physical features because there is nothing else to compare each other with. The adolescents are changing physically, but not mentally. They are still waiting for their brain to grow to their actions.
Moral development, or lack of moral development, comes up in the episode. Moral development can be classified into six stages. In the episode Bobby is kissing Connie in front of Joseph. This shows that Bobby is in the first and second stage of moral development. He is in the first because he is not considering other people’s points of view. He does not seem to have a sense of right and wrong. He is kissing Connie to receive appraisal from Joseph and is not thinking about Connie’s feelings. Conner herself knows that what Bobby is doing is wrong and this shows that she is in a higher stage of moral development. Although, later on in the episode Connie contradicts herself by kissing Joseph. This shows that she has returned to the lower stage as she is not thinking about Bobby and his feelings. She is kissing Joseph because she wants to try it and is not thinking of consequences.
The idea of initiation rites into adulthood comes up numerous times in the first five minutes of the episode and a few times later on. Initiation rites are also known as rites of passage. This is when the person is to pass from one age status to the next. The events can be informal to formal ceremonies. They are many examples of informal initiation rites. For Bobby, a few examples occurred when he was visiting his grandfather. They include telephone use, privacy, driving a golf cart, addressed as Mr. Bobby Hill, given some fancy pens, and being able to fly alone. All of these examples of initiation rites are informal, and even though they are not formal rites, they still mean a lot of Bobby. He takes them seriously because with these simple acts, he is being treated more as an adult then any other time in his life. The simple acts from his grandfather and parents show that they are ready to give him more responsibility. They are acknowledging the fact that Bobby is growing up. A more formal example of initiation rites would be Bobby’s thirteenth birthday party. This is a ceremony for the fact that he is coming to an age where he is going to be able to make more decisions. His family is calling him a teenager all the time and the passing of his birthday will make him an actual teenager. Bobby is entering a new age status. With his new age status comes the question of sexual identities.
Sexual identities, and the question of what your sexual identity, are illustrated through dialogue and the actions of the characters. Sexual identity is one’s biological inheritance. This includes genetic traits and may include some sex-linked behavior. This means that if you are born with the male genitals, then your identity would be one of a male. You would normally react to biological changes the same way another male would and vice versa for females. Joseph’s reaction to girls is an example of a sexual identity. Joseph says that he cannot get girls out of his head, and he believes that they are all attracted to him. This shows a biological reaction to the opposite sex that he cannot control. His sexual urges are changing his personality in the way he is treating girls. He is looking at their legs and not thinking of the consequence because his sexual urge is driving him. This is considered an identity because it is something that is inherited. Closely related to sexual identities are sexual roles.
Sexual roles are briefly shown in this episode through the older characters. Sex role is defined partly by genetic makeup, but mainly by society and culture in which the individual lives. It is a description of how a person with a given identity is supposed to behave. Our sex role informs as an adolescent on how we are supposed to act. This can be defined by what is masculine and what is feminine. These are stereotypes that have been created by example. For a male a sex role could be that he must be the supporter of his family. For woman, they are supposed to be a nurturing individual. The sex roles that come up in King of the Hill are that to be a man you must be extremely masculine. An example would be when Hank defends the fact that he is sewing by saying he is “upholstering”. He gets extremely defensive when his masculinity is questioned. This is because society has told and modeled that a man is supposed to be strong and does not do things like sewing. Sewing is a woman’s job.
Not all the adolescent changes are shown. There are certain changes in puberty that were not discussed. This could be because there is not enough time, characters, and the show is not designed to address all the aspects. For example there is no need to talk about spermarche on television. There are very few viewers that watch the show would want to see such specific details on life. Another example would be that the female development was not addressed as much. This would be because there is only one main female character. Not only that, but the changes of puberty do not all occurred at one time. Therefore it is impossible for one episode to show all of the changes unless they were to make a new character completely out of proportion to the rest.
There are other shows, such as The Cosby Show, that depict an adolescent’s development. This show is not a cartoon and therefore can have an easier time showing physical changes. The show ran for a very long time and you can see the dramatic changes of the youth from its first episode to its last episode. The show also deals with problems and how adolescents are affected by them. It demonstrates the aspects of adolescence through their many children and allows you to compare where they are on each of the levels. It is because of this chance to compare, that you can really see the changes and can understand them. For those reasons, The Cosby Show is an excellent example of adolescents.
It is now known that King of the Hill is a good example of adolescents. It is important that we understand that media can display adolescents in an accurate way. Yet, we must also understand that the media can do a terrible job of displaying adolescents. Shows like South Park, The Hills, et cetera are making it seem like youth today are all perfectly rotten. It is believed that most people do not want to watch accurately depicting shows because they can be boring. In all actuality, the lives of adolescents are fairly boring. We all go through the same process and therefore do not want to see a normal view of puberty. The media is showing us what we want to see, but it can be affecting the lives of adolescents going through those stages. They may have a lack of role models and the only thing they can look up to is the media. This can be screwing up the youth as they will start to believe that what they see on TV is real and what they should be. For example, a young female watches Britney Spears dancing on TV. She is assuming that the actions and words that are coming out of Britney’s mouth are acceptable because the TV is showing it. She then starts to dress and act the same way as her TV role model. Lawrence Grossberg, Ellen Wartella, D. Charles Whitney, and J. Macgregor Wise, the authors of Mediamaking: Mass Media in a Popular Culture, agree with me that media is corrupting an adolescents view on how to act in today’s society. It is believed that if we do not work on changing the way media portrays the youth of today, then the youth will be lost forever to lewd and appalling conditions. Therefore it is now known that King of the Hill accurately depicts adolescents because they are not over exaggerating rude behavior. They are showing adolescents as they are, and should always be.