Wednesday, April 13, 2005

13 April 2005

O, Grow Up Already!

Poor rabbits - one moment the velveteen of a child's story, the next a coney to catch, a Peter, or a Playmate. There is no way of getting around this ambiguity with even a humble bunny, and no legislation can clarify how we see such a simple animal, let alone how we Bigger Brained see ourselves. If citizens want to promote or protect their own innocence, in this nation, under our Constitution, that is their responsibility and their privilege Not unusually, I defer to Digby on the political ramifications, and you can follow his links to Matt, to Amy, etc.

Off the top of my head, however, I can say this: public/political/theocratic cultural policies always fail. Islam interdicts representations of people, but we have Persian miniatures, and Mughal painting (maybe they got by just for being small....). Byzantine luxury. Books of Hours. Blood-and-guts Jacobeans. Miltonic masques (when the theatres were closed). Italian censors were constantly on Verdi's back for politically sensitive material (a royal assassination in A Masked Ball), but let infanticide, kidnapping (just before the girl takes her holy vows!), and a rather manipulative fratricide go by in Trovatore (a fave of mine, btw).

Steve Gilliard (with a couple of generations of observation supporting him) emphasizes the supremacy of peer pressure on kids, trumping the most intense pop cult assaults - and peer pressure is acceptance, imitation, or relegation to some other level, which will have its own passwords for belonging. You have to have lost both your mind and your memory to think that kids haven't developed any critical sensibility by, say, age 10 - it may not be very sophisticated, but it's there. And it wants to be better, wants to be able to make distinctions, knows it's being steamrolled by marketers on the one hand and by anxious parents and teachers on the other. It would drive me to GTA/SA, if I was there today, just for a bit of release.

Bite me, boys and girls. Culture is for grown-ups, but not when they are dumber - and more dishonest - than their kids. Need a rap on the knuckles with a ruler, they do.

For a more trenchant response to Amy Sullivan (& Co.), I refer you to Scott at LG&M.


blue girl said...

"Bite me, boys and girls. Culture is for grown-ups, but not when they are dumber - and more dishonest - than their kids. Need a rap on the knuckles with a ruler, they do."

That is great. And applies to both sides. I had to take my advil after I read all that bla-bla-blather today.

My wish for the wacko right: May you forever enjoy Norman Rockwell and endless re-runs of "Leave It To Beaver."

And to the loony left: Full body armour for you and your children as you do your best to dodge all the land mines of today's f-bombs and trash culture.

grishaxxx said...

Thanks, bg - but I really do commend to you the thread at LG&M - better argued in political terms than I can manage. I come at this stuff from more of a critic's position, and with as little preconception as I can manage. I have enough difficulty trying to keep my own responses (relatively) unfettered without having to think - as parents must - about their kids' sensibilities, what they can bear, what they are ready for and what they are not, knowing that you can't guard all gates. But you gotta try to get kids to engage the world (not just art) honestly, to recognize the hypocrisy and posturing of both left and right, know when fashion and cleverness are only that. That may mean giving in to one's love of trash, but also learning the distinctions between trash and better. Developing standards is liberating; swallowing doctrine confines.

blue girl said...

Let it be written. Let it be read. I will read LG&M--promise.

Don't underestimate yourself. You just put it very well here. It's a constant conversation you have to have with them. That's what I strive for and that's why "big blue eyes" roll at me constantly.

We all just watched "Sideways" last night -- (luckily he was in the bathroom at a couple of greatly-timed moments) Not that he couldn't handle it; just that I couldn't handle sitting next to him as we watched it. If you've seen it, I'm sure you can at least think of one scene I'm talking about.)

And we had a great talk afterward about the writing in the movie and the acting.
We thought Thomas Hayden Church was brilliant!

I think he "gets it" and although he won't admit it 99% of the time, he knows I make the attempt to teach him in my own feeble way.

blue girl said...

First of all let me say that the LG&M site is hard for me to read. The copy is small and reversed out of black. It was bouncing, so I couldn't focus 100%.

Also, a general observation. I would doubt that these guys have kids. It's a very clinical "take" on the situation. So as a mom, I'm skeptical right off the bat. Try being this clinical when you are raising a kid. Doesn't work. They'll throw spaghetti at you and then try to steal the car.

First bullet: "Surely not everybody has to accept these claims on blind faith."

Of course not, some do. Some don't. And some actually feel exactly the way Amy said they do in that statement. He is right though that her statement does not encourage discussion, but tries to end it.

2nd bullet: Not talking about abortion but other cultural stuff like video games, trashy TV, etc. -- I've never understood why this is a left vs. right issue. I think it's a money issue. A greed issue. If it sells, they'll do it. It backs the left in a corner to defend crap. So, Rupert Murdoch gives tons of money to the religious right then puts trashiest of trash on Fox? I have never heard anyone call them on this. I think there ARE people on the right that might vote Democrat but for the abortion issue. But, it's been a successful strategy of the right to label trash culture as "liberal" (which it's not) and it's been successful.

3rd bullet: Noone has to tell parents to be obsessed with culture. And I don't know any who are. Most parents do think it's out of control though. And some try to address it and some don't.
Some try to shield their kids from it and some could care less.

"I would like liberals to point out that other liberal democracies have lower rates of violence and teen pregnancy despite their children being exposed to similar cultural influences, which suggests that other factors may be more relevant that pop culture. But according to Sullivan, you're not even allowed to point this out, because if parents believe what politicians tell them you're not allowed to say anything different."

Well, if she really feels this way, that's strange. And I can't speak to other democracies having less teen pregancies, violence, etc. Michael Moore made the same point in "Bowling for Columbine." You do wonder why.

Last bullet: Seems like complete B.S. to me. Seems like a forced scenario to fit into this argument.

grishaxxx: You put it much better above. You have to engage your children. With everything. Try to teach them the difference. Try not to hover. Try not to overreact. Try not to underreact. Try not to panic. Try not to avoid. I could go on and on. Sit and watch "Wife Swap" with them, then take them to the art museum.

All this talk reminds me of what Gertrude Stein once said: There's not an answer, there's never been an answer and there's never going to be an answer."