Laying down the law
Having posted recently about not understanding some people’s affinity for some of the worst popular music of all time (which I insist was all made after 1995), I started thinking about pop culture more.
Truthfully, I am obsessed with movies, music and tv from the 80’s and 90’s. I even tried out for VH1’s “World Series of Pop Culture” with a team of other pop-culture addicts. I am still floored that we didn’t make it past the first round. There just couldn’t have been anyone better than we were.
But, in my pondering about the pop culture of my youth in that last post, I made reference to the fact that my parents banned hardcore rap in my house right at the height of the gangsta rap movement when everything was very political and driven. They, of course, never listened much to the lyrics to know anything beyong the fact that they were violent (or so they had heard) and used racial slurs. A whole lot.
That has led me to think at length about other things my folks banned at our house. Warning: this list is odd.
1. The Simpsons — My mother insisted that Bart Simpson (who she didn’t know by name, but instead referred to as “that child”) was “disrespectful.” Most of my questions, however, regarding her reasons for disallowing this program in her household were simply met with a pursed-lipped sour scowl and disapproving head shake. So, I am still not 100% certain what her beef was, but I think that she probably heard the “Eat my shorts!” tagline once and decided that it was NOT for her precious baby girl’s ears. It’s funny how philosophical, political and deep the social commentary is on this show, though. It’s a shame mom never got the chance to learn that guns are “for family protection, hunting dangerous or delicious animals, and keeping the King of England out of your face!”
2. Married With Children — This show was notoriously forbidden in my home as a kid. I never really showed much interest in watching it, though, so I am not really sure why my mother so vehemently protested against this in my presence. It kinda made me want to watch it, actually, though, so let that be a lesson about getting your kids to do (or not do) what you want them to do (or not do). But, I always thought that the show was a little…contrived. At my age as a young teenager, I didn’t really get the winky humor. My husband would now cringe since he was actually a big fan, but honestly, I just never really found it that appealing.
3. Dirty Dancing — Now, I know that the only reason I was not allowed to see this movie was because of the title. I know this, of course, because my mother told me that “no child of mine is going to watch something called Dirty Dancing!” Fast forward to a few months after the movie’s release when on a chilly February night I showed up at a friend’s house for a huge sleepover birthday party where the featured presentation involved Patrick Swayze’s gyrations and a botched back alley abortion procedure. Scandal. I thought for sure mom was going to turn me right around in the doorway and march me back home where everything was safe and we could peacefully watch “The Cosby Show” snuggled on the couch as a family. But, she didn’t. I stayed. I saw the movie. I had a nice time with my friends. I didn’t subsequently become a mass murderer. Crisis averted. And, now it’s my mom’s second favorite movie. First is still “White Christmas.” Nothing’s ever going to trump that. Not even shirtless foxtrots.
4. The mall — Well, to be fair, the mall itself wasn’t completely off-limits. I just wasn’t allowed to drive there, be driven there by anyone who received a license after Nixon’s resignation, be left alone for any length of time there, or “hang out” there without a specific purpose. To this day, I cannot browse. It isn’t in my nature. The desire for it was sucked out of my soul via my mother’s version of the Ludovico Technique, apparently.
5. Earrings — The rule in my household was that I would not be permitted to have piercings of any type until my 13th birthday. Granted, piercing anything other than one’s ears was not heard of in 1989 among the suburban masses, so their intention wasn’t to ban my becoming a punk, but was to ban my growing up too quickly since earrings somehow signified (perhaps to my father more than to my mother) maturity. My mom’s needle-phobia wasn’t putting her in a position to want to rush me out to Piercing Pagoda to watch a dart gun press metal alloy through her daughter’s flesh, either, I am sure.
As a parent myself now, I wish I could say that I am more reasonable than my parents were, but that would be a lie. I am totally irrational and have ridiculous rules and look forward to embarassing my children by dancing at their school dances. One might say that I have learned NOTHING from my parents’ example. They made things difficult for me and they made me want them to walk three steps behind me in public. But, I maintain that they taught me everything I needed to know about how to have a loving marriage and how to raise a clearly briliant, thoughtful, well-adjusted child. Who is also beautiful. And a genius. And just awesome.