Saturday, February 6, 2010

and I can't get you out of my head.....


"call me Mr. Flintstone, I can make your bed me Mr. Flintstone,I can make your bed rock.."...wafted from the speakers in my husband's car the other day. I looked over to find him singing along enthusiastically with, perhaps, the lamest song I have ever heard. If there were a hint of irony in any of the lyrics between the absurd choruses, I might understand why it plays every ten minutes on the radio:

"She Got That Good Good,
She Michael Jackson Bad,
I'm Attracted To Her, For Her Attractive Ass,
And Now We Murderers, Because We Killed Time,
I Knock Her Lights Out, And She Still Shine,
I Hate To See Her Go, But I Love To Watch Her Leave
But I Keep Her Running Back And Forth
Soccer Team
Cold As A Winter Day,
Hot As A Summer's Eve,
Young Money Thieves
Steal Your Love And Leave "

Where is Steve Allen when you need him. I would pay lots of money to see him do that song spoken word style. The Summer's Eve is funny because it isn't supposed to be, but the rest of it is makes me simply think "douche bag", which isn't normally my preferred put down. The truly ironic part about this song is that LilWayne, the singer of this verse, was sued by the Rolling Stone's publisher:
"The lawsuit cites lyrical comparisons like the Stones’ original chorus “But don’t play with me, ’cause you’re playing with fire,” and Wayne’s line “But you can’t blame me if I set this stage on fire.”
In the lawsuit, Abkco, the publisher, says that the public might assume the Rolling Stones approve of Wayne’s uses of “explicit, sexist and offensive language.”

Excuse me? Have you heard the song "Brown Sugar"? Well, how about reading the lyrics. I did today, for the first time, and was a bit surprised:

"Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields
Sold in a market down in New Orleans
Scarred old slaver knows he's doing alright
Hear him with the women just around midnight
Brown sugar how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar just like a young girl should
Drums beating, cold English blood runs hot
Lady of the house wonderin' when it's gonna stop
House boy knows that he's doing alright
You shoulda heard him just around midnight
Brown sugar how come you taste so good, now?
Brown sugar just like a young girl should, now
Ah, get along, brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?
Ah, got me feelin' now, brown sugar just like a black girl should
I bet your mama was a tent show queen
And all her boyfriends were sweet sixteen
I'm no schoolboy but I know what I like
You shoulda heard me just around midnight
Brown sugar how come you taste so good, baby?
Ah, brown sugar just like a young girl should, yeah
I said yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
How come come you taste so good?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo
Just like a...just like a black girl should
Yeah, yeah, yeah, woo"

Perhaps it is the "woo" and the end of each "yeah yeah yeah", but if I were African American, I might not like this song too much. If it were Simon and Garfunkel singing it, the content might not seem as glorified, but combined with Mick's gyrating and Keith's guitar licks, it's anything but a condemnation. It will never be the same song for me, and I have gyrated aplenty to many a "yeah,yeah, yeah WOO" in total ignorance because I couldn't understand the lyrics. I can't help but like The Stones because the music is really good. Maybe I can sing different lyrics-maybe lyrics about how much I like brown sugar:

"Hawaiian born ship bound for New Orleans,
Bought a five pound bag at Fifth and Queen,
Tweaked out sales clerk is doing alright,
Gonna bake my ass off just around midnight,
Brown sugar how come you taste so good?
Brown sugar, just like I knew you would...
Yeah,yeah,yeah WOO
Ima butter my muffin goooood....
yeah,yeah,yeah, WOO
Just like a fat girl should...."

I know, not nearly as fun as the original, but once you become a parent, you make a lot of changes to lyrics. I have taken the song “Bad Mamma Jamma" which says "she's got all the curves a man likes" and turned it into “she’s got all the curls her dad likes" because my kids love this song. I can't teach them the actual lyrics for fear that we have a "Little Miss Sunshine" scenario at school someday soon. Aside from the inappropriate lyrics, it feels strange to promote music to my kids that is actively raunchy or sexist. I intend to continue playing The Rolling Stones, but when they get older I may mention that I don't think The Stones had the right as white British dudes to riff on the Black slave experience with impunity. I realize that it was released decades ago.I just can't believe that they weren't somewhat aware of the significance of the lyrics, though they are hardly the moral compass of rock and roll.

It is their constitutional right to write it, play it and sing it as often as they'd like and those of us who don't like it can write some letters and try and get Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Center involved( don't panic, liberal friends, I'm being facetious)but it speaks to the issue of free speech. If we don't like it,our option is to turn it off, which is a fine option. But what about the stuff you can't turn off or tune out?

While I am all for our rights as Americans, I am of the opinion that the free speech thing has gone a bit too far in some respects( don't panic liberal parents, I am still a fan of the First Amendment). While Larry Flynt has kept us all in disgusting, debasing images of naked women, he has consequently defended our right to print whatever we damn well please.So we are in his debt on the one hand. On the other hand,  I don't think it is acceptable for a merchant to display "Anal Bondage" magazine in the front window of his cash register stand( an actual experience) directly in the eye line of everyone under four feet tall. Unless the store services a large population of little people, they must be marketing their products to very young children. My children, to be specific, and that isn't okay with me. I can't imagine that a photograph depicting a mostly nude woman tied up with her nether region up in the air is going to have anything but a negative impact on someone who is four years old. It is akin to a corrupted file that got past the virus software and will eventually damage the internal mechanism.

We must agree as a society that everything we see is imprinted in our brain, forever. Certain images that I have seen or had described to me with respect to sexual slavery, animal abuse, factory farming- you name it, they are there forever and often rear their ugly but truthful heads at inopportune moments. Nothing kills a romantic evening quicker than a flashback of a little girl describing her ordeal at the hands of her rapist adoptive father.Thanks Oprah....

What about the preponderance of violent or overly sexual song lyrics, gory video games and accessible pornographic imagery?It has been an issue for years and while it would be nice to be able to say that there is no relationship between what we see and how we behave,  any parent can tell you that after their kids watch something on television, they basically incorporate it into their fantasy play. Mine become Cinderella, or Belle, or an ugly step sister on occasion.They are little sponges that soak it up and spit it out, which is why it is so important to monitor what goes in.
I actively dread the middle school years because that is when sex comes into the picture. Over exposure to sexual imagery and content has forever changed the landscape of teenage relationships. I remember the day that Patrick Vagnenius (an eighth grader with an unfortunate surname) brought "Beaver Hunt" to school and showed all of us a series of close up photographs of women's crotches clad in Bermuda shorts with a triangle cut out to reveal extremely au naturel vaginas.It looked like a bunch of ewoks peeking through a plaid window panel to my naive sixth grade eyes, but the boys sure thought it was groovy. It was called the "Bermuda Triangle" edition. This was twenty eight years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday.  Every time I see a pair of Bermuda shorts, I revisit those images. Thanks, Patrick,and how gross and unnecessary for a thirteen year old boy to be reading such a strange magazine. What exactly is the appeal of such a spread( sorry, bad pun)?And what did he think when he finally got a look at a real live lady part?

Certain imagery really should stay behind the brown paper wrapper where people have to seek it out. A friend of mine had a very strict father growing up.She, the only girl, wasn't allowed to platonically date,wear make up or dress provocatively in any way shape or form.One day, when she was about thirteen, she found his porn stash under his bed and, after reading it, scrawled "Daddy's little girl" all over it in black ink.The weirdest part is that it was never mentioned.We can assume that it was discovered at some point and that the culprit was fairly obvious,but what exactly do you say in that situation? Why Daddy looks at porn isn't something that can really successfully be explained to an average thirteen year old girl because they really aren't supposed to be exposed to that sort of thing just yet.While I have nothing against the concept of pornography, in practice it can create too many expectations about what sex is supposed to be.

On a similar but entirely repulsive note, when I was bartending once, some of my clients were passing around a picture and giggling. I was clearing their table and asked what they were looking at. They told me I didn't want to know, and I persisted, thinking ,what could be so bad?What they showed me is permanently burned into my brain, and I almost threw them out of the bar. I won't burden you with a detailed description, but what kind of people carry around and share a photo of someone having sex with his dog? Again, I suppose it is their right to look at whatever they want, as I don't think viewing bestiality is a felony yet, but have a little respect for other people who don't choose to corrupt their brains with something that is entirely useless and flat out damaging. I walked around for weeks glaring at every guy I saw walking his dog. They probably thought I was giving them the stink eye because they didn't pick up their dog's poop, but I was simply disgusted with every last one of them.

I have gotten wiser in my old age and made conscious choices not to view or hear things that I think are vile.I don't mean the news, though if you watch Fox, it is pretty vile, or world events.I just mean,base,ugly,nasty shit that has no place in my life. I am not saying that it isn't okay for people to act out their twisted fantasies with each other or engage in consensual freakinshness.Adults can do what they please, with other adults, because this is America ,Goddamit, but do the rest of us really have to know about it? Must our smallest citizens be inundated with explicit material that is way beyond their comprehension? We all plan on living well into out seventies, so let's allow the kids to be kids at least until they can vote and then it's anyone's game.Hopefully, by then they have learned what took me thirty five years to learn- protect yourself ,because what you look at and hear and experience makes you who you are. It is called Too Much Information,and that applies to songs, magazines and most conversations, overheard and otherwise.

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