Thursday, October 3, 2013

This post contains a lot of sex, drugs and general indecency

The other night in the car, my kids were joking back and forth. This is epic because a) my kids don’t always get along and b) my kids don’t always get along. So I was happy. Until I noticed that amidst the tomfoolery and shenanigans, the conversation was laced with verbiage like, “you suck” and “pissed off”.

Now, you can judge me two ways with this. 1) I can’t believe you let your kids get away with saying stuff like that, or 2) In this day and age, I can’t believe you even blinked an eye at this.

I don’t even know where to go with this because there is so much swirling in my head. In my perfect little family that I tried to raise, we never said things like this. If my little cherub said, “I hate broccoli,” my response was, “Now, we don’t say ‘hate.’ You DISLIKE broccoli. And really, what did broccoli ever do to you?” If the oldest called the youngest a “stupidhead” then he was immediately put in timeout and forced to apologize for wounding his brother’s spirit and potentially shattering his self-esteem with his negativespeak.

So it's come to this - "you suck," "pissed off" and a few other choice words that I can demand not be said under MY roof but that I know full well they hear commonplace every single day. Now, I know there are those parents out there who somehow, some way, manage to raise their kids to never, ever say a bad word, watch a TV show with questionable content, and generally be morally amazing. These are probably the same parents who don’t have cable. Or electricity. Or ever leave the house. I even knew of a mom who once complained to a store manager that there should be a magazine-free checkout aisle so her kids didn’t have to view the tabloid filth while going through the line. 

And guess what? As fuddy-duddy and unrealistic and prudish as it seems, I agree with her. 

I know the world evolves. I know back in the 50’s the planet had a field day with Elvis shaking his hips on national TV. I know that Dick Van Dyke and his wife had twin beds. I know if you filmed a man and a woman on a bed that one of them had to have one foot on the floor. And we as humans managed to bend our moral compasses bit by bit as time went on and the push for acceptance by the minorities became the consensus of the majority. 

Fast forward to what we are willing to accept now. And yes, I know that by railing on this I risk being dubbed a middle-aged Mrs. Grundy who yes, listened to Van Halen in high school and never thought Hot for Teacher was a bad thing. I get it. I stand guilty. BUT….

I think we’ve gotten out of hand. No. I KNOW we’ve gotten out of hand. Not only has our moral compass been bent, it’s been tied and twisted and convoluted so much it can’t even point anymore. I feel like I’ve been bullied into “being OK” with the foul language and lewd behavior that is peppered all over the media, in the schools and in the home because “that’s just the way the world is now.” We pretend to stand aghast at Miley Cyrus’s performance on the Video Music Awards (no I won't link to it), but the point is, she was allowed to do it. And we watched it. And we watched it again. And we talked about it. And we spoofed it. And we laughed at it. And it's wrong, People. It's just wrong.

I’m going to say this right now and I know I’m going to be unpopular. I don’t like The Simpsons. Or King of the Hill. Or Tosh.0. Or a host of other shows that grace the airwaves during prime time each night with content I consider questionable to my kids and blatantly immature for adults to even entertain. And here's a HUGE social risk: although Breaking Bad was a well-written show, I can’t believe the accolades and following it got due to its subject matter. Seriously. Yeah, I just said that. Why? Because kids are impressionable. And kids watched it. You can slice and dice the theme of that show any way you want it and I'll still feel the same way. Sure, kids can turn it off. But they don't. Parents can refuse to watch it. But they do. Like I said, it was a good show. Very well-written. But I can't believe we as a society have gotten to the place where this kind of stuff is OK as means of entertainment.Oh, and don't even get me STARTED on YouTube.

And you are welcome to try to tell me that I can just not allow my kids to watch it - or play it - or listen to it. I’m just as guilty for joining the majority – albeit kicking and screaming. I am JUST AS GUILTY. There’s only so long you can police your kids until they get to the ages where you just CAN’T anymore. And there’s also that fine line you walk between being the house where kids want to go and hang out and being the house that NO ONE wants to visit. I strictly forbid M-rated video games in my house. They still play them elsewhere – oh, and I’m finding “demos” sneaked into our own game systems as well.  And they’re basically outcasts with their friends because they DON’T own Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. Really. Even their moral, church-going friends. I just don't get it. Am I the only one who cringes at the sound of someone getting blown away or lying on the floor in a drug-induced stupor? 

I don’t know why there are naked people on TV having sex. I don't know why we're so entranced with the drug culture and why we basically give kids a road map into it. Don't even get me started on the dichotomy between the "Stop Smoking" campaigns and the ones to legalize marijuana. I will listen to your argument all day and still won't see the benefit - monetarily or socially. (Let the firestorm commence.)

I don’t know why George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can't Say on Television (1972) has become nothing more than a nursery rhyme today. I don’t know why there are shows glorifying making meth and teenagers having babies and Amish people leaving their communities so they can live sin-filled lives in New York City. I don’t know why I can’t listen to the radio without flipping the dial because Bob and Tom took it “just too far” for my liking again. I don’t know why “What's up, nigga?” is now a term used to say hello to another person. That's reprehensible no matter how much it's "just a joke" or "just how kids talk these days." I don’t know why kids think it’s OK to post what they post on social media. Really, parents. LOOK AT WHAT YOUR KIDS ARE POSTING. Look at the pages they’re allowed to be fans of. WHY ARE THESE PAGES ALLOWED TO EXIST??? It’s messed up. And I don’t know how or when this became OK. And if you think your kids aren't doing it, think again. THEY ARE.

The lines have become pretty blurred (yes, I know all about Blurred Lines and I won't link to that either) between what some consider “pushing the envelope” and “offensive.” And it's not any easier given the fact that I am in the advertising and marketing industry, where we're constantly looking for ideas that will pattern interrupt day in and day out. I guess I don’t understand WHY we have to push the envelope of our morals just to capture people's attention. What redeeming social quality does any of this have? Or is it that we don't really care about social quality anymore?

At heart, I think we’ve turned into a nasty, raunchy, inappropriate society who revels in one-upping the nastiness, raunchiness and inappropriateness. I wonder if we’ve come from where we were in the 50’s with Elvis’s gyrations to where we are now, where we’re going to be 50 years from now. I don’t even want to think about it. And I'm as guilty as anyone else for propagating it, sharing it and saying it - to an extent. But not the extent that it exists, and not the extent that's becoming the culture of the children we're trying to raise.

I had the best of intentions when I had my kids. I’m not saying they’re not going to grow up to be moral, upstanding individuals – I hope to God that amidst all the unscrupulous outside influences, coupled with the mistakes I've made that somehow some goodness sunk in and they have enough of an internal morality to not get sucked in by all the degradation in the world. 

I know I failed them by giving in – by throwing my hands up and knowing that there is no way I can shelter them completely or control everything they see and do. But I do strongly believe society has also failed them by setting and allowing such bad examples of humanity and decency. I can pretend to hope that my kids will rise above, but I honestly think they're up against some pretty serious odds.

Not really what you were hoping for when you clicked on this blog title, was it? 

1 comment:

  1. Talk about hitting the nail on the head! You sure did with this post. Haven't seen a single episode of Breaking Bad and did not watch the video music awards. I have no kids left at home and hope that some of the lessons they learned are being passed on to my grandchildren. I think they are trying and hope they succeed.


For those of you not commenting directly from a blog, the simplest way to leave a comment is to go to the "Comment as" dropdown menu and select Name/URL. Type in your name and don't worry about the URL.