Thursday, March 17, 2005

Saving Our Overprotected Kids

     We're living in a renaissance of the 1950's. Like all retro fads, I expect it to fade away soon. But in the meantime, it's subjecting the rest of us to Baby Boomer FantasyLand. They think they remember the 50's as an idyllic time when everyone was happy and got along and there was no terror and no strife. They're right, of course. The oldest Baby Boomers were born in 1946 - after WWII. The youngest were born in the 60's. So none of them had a job in the 50's. None of them had a mortgage in the 50's. None of them were in politics in the 50's. They were children if they were even born yet. Of course the time is remembered fondly.
     Unfortunately for the rest of us, we get hit with all of the lousy things that came along with that decade - uber-patriotism (including McCarthyism and pro-Christianity), civil rights tensions (Blacks then, gays today), and a desire to return to bland, uninteresting entertainment. (Please - I've seen Bob Hope. He wasn't funny.) Censorship was big in the 50's and it's making a resurgence. Of course, overt censorship has been with us all along.
     I was thinking about when I was a kid and I saw Revenge of the Nerds on network TV. (sidenote: thru my research for this blog, I discovered that a remake is coming out next year. How disturbing!) It was gross and funny and I was 12 so most of the jokes went over my head anyway. I begged my parents to rent the video. Sure, it was rated R, I told them, but I saw it on TV. It didn't deserve that rating - there were no bad parts. So the family gets together and rents and watches the movie together. Much to my dismay (and delight), there was a full-frontal nudity scene that I had definately not noticed the first time. Great to rewind and rewatch when I was alone - NOT cool to watch with my parents. After the movie, my dad pulled me aside and I braced for the worst. To my astonishment, he told me that he wanted to make sure I knew that you didn't need drugs to have a good time. Drugs?? There were drugs in the movie?? Now I know that there were - the "wonder joint" during the LLL party. But I had totally missed that in my pre-teen innocence.
     The reason I was taking this particular trip down memory lane today was because I heard a song on the radio where the word "shit" was fuzzed out to make it palatable for kids. Obviously we don't want our children exposed to gangsta rap and angry rock when they're really young. But is the answer to sanitize these songs for the radio? Like Revenge of the Nerds, all it will do is cause kids to like the song without even realizing that it's inappropriate in its full version. And when they do buy the CD (or download it off the internet) - there it is in all its glory. Sanitizing songs is like using Joe Camel to sell cigarettes to kids. It's like using Neverland to sell Michael Jackson to kids. It's just misleading. Maybe we should stop being hypocritical and look at ways to immunize our children from the bad influences that are out there, like my dad pulling me aside after the movie to tell me to stay off drugs.

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