I am, without a doubt, a child of the 80’s. My generation was raised on media- movie, TV, music- we soaked it up like a sponge. We learned about sexuality from seeing Supermodels in sports magazines and billboards. Women who rarely look that way in real life were perched precariously in every gaze, on every billboard, TV show, movie and magazine. As with most teenage males my every thought was refocused on attaining the attention of the unattainable. And not just sexual drivers – every facet of our personalities were affected by what was aspired and revered. We were mentored, molded and manicured into that which we thought we should be. No matter who you spent your spare time reading about or watching on screen- Indiana Jones, Gordon Gecko, Bill Cosby – we mimicked their every move until it became such a part of our social makeup that we can’t distinguish a learned or copied trait from a natural one. To this day at times I laugh like Eddie Murphy, say “helloooo” like Billy Crystal and raise one 6 million dollar eyebrow on cue. Silly little things we adopt into the fabric of our personality until we are eventually granted squatter’s rights.
But what happens when it’s not something innocent or sardonic? What happens if we don’t acknowledge that some of our values came from mainstream media? We learned to protect the little guy on the subway because Spidey would have. Paying attention to details is second nature now because we were told that “knowing is half the battle”. Hell, I thought I was a lazy lover 1/2 way through college when I realized “there are 22 positions in a one night stand”, and I only averaged 9! We’ll took guidance to heart – and from anyone. Why wouldn’t we? Any guy who can change his name from Prince to whatever the sign for the atomic weight of Boron is, and still get laid, really should be an authority. There is a very strong argument to made that Spielberg, John Hughes and Woody Allen did as much to influence us as our teachers did – and while I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing, it does make me ponder the influencers of my Son’s generation.
I’ve said many times that I’m not the first Parent to cock his head sideways and perk up his ears when looking through the lens today’s children use to see the world. Our parents didn’t understand Madonna’s shenanigans any more than I can tolerate Lady Gaga. And while both of these ladies arguably hide a profound talent beneath an outrageous social statement, you have to wonder about collateral damage when you see 12 year old girls dressed like Hollywood hookers at a Miley Cyrus concert. Seriously, is there ever a good reason for anyone’s daughter – at any age – to be twerking in public? How many times does Kanye West get to hijack an award show with such stupidity and self-importance before people stop listening to him?
My point here is that I never thought I would become one of these parents that feels the need to monitor a kids media intake. I know our Grandparents did not understand The Beatles, and that you can’t blaze brave new ground without running over a few mailboxes in the process. While I don’t understand nor see any talent or value in Kim Kardashian, I do respect her gross manipulation of the system. It’s hard to teach someone to beware of the game without acknowledging the players. The lessons my Son will learn will come from multiple sources, and my goal – as one example – is to make him ALWAYS respect woman, but be aware of the dangers the fairer sex can summon at will. To take part in the race for life, liberty and the happiness of pursuit, but not be overwhelmed or defined by successes and failures along the way.
To acknowledge the game and not be the only one not playing – but maintain a healthy detachment from it and not become a “playah”. It’s a fine line to be sure, and if he learns the differences in both message and musicality between Stevie Wonder and Chris Brown in the process – I’m more than ok with that too.
Of course, that’s just how I see the world. Your view may differ.