Follow me on Twitter:

Follow me on Twitter: @matt_claus

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Wussification of Our Children

So the other day, my youngest daughter, who was 4 years old at the time, asked me "Daddy?  Can we watch Star Wars?"

My pride outweighs any witty caption.
My chest swelled with pride, and I lovingly pulled the blu-ray from it's sheathe and slid it into the player.  My daughter giggled with excitement as the icon 20th Century Fox played it's fanfare, and then went deathly quiet for those 2 seconds letting your heart flutter in anticipation.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, and then....  POW!  The trumpets sounded, John Williams masterpiece over whelmed the room from my speakers, and the Star Wars logo flared upon my screen!  We both cheered at the sheer awesomeness of the moment.  A warm tingly shiver ran down my spine as the yellow words scrolled across the screen, and I explained to my daughter, that the film was actually called Star Wars, not a "A New Hope", but we should enjoy it for what it is.  There would be time for arguments of the validity of Han shooting first at another time.

This was one of those moments in life which should be treasured for all time.

As the Imperial Star Destroyer roared across the screen, I held my daughter tight in an embrace...  Storm Troopers shot rebels, droids ran through lasers, Darth entered, ominously yet grandly and then choked the captain of Leia's cruiser.  The droids jumped into the escape pod, and those stupid imperial officers decided not to shoot it.  (If they had, the whole series would have been solved.  Emperor wins.)  As I pointed this out to my daughter, I noticed she wasn't nearly as excited as she was 5 minutes ago...  In fact she looked downright bored.

She looked at me and said...  "Daddy! I wanted to watch ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS!  Let's watch 'Finding Nemo' instead."

This is not the Star Wars you are looking for.

I thought unhappily to myself, that marketing wins again as I switched off the 70's epic tale, for Disney's cute fish for the millionth time.  If nothing else, it makes a good story.  I decided to tell my folks the tale of disappointment and shame, but as I launched into my diatribe of how today's children don't appreciate anything that can't be launched as a dollar app, I stopped and looked at their faces.  They were looking at me in complete disbelief and disappointment.

"You let our 4 year old granddaughter watch Star Wars?"

Darth Vader is now the second worst father of all time.

I stopped to consider...  There's a lot of killing, violence, and pure evilness in Star Wars.  Not to mention incest and worst of all Jar Jar Binks...  I was a bad dad.  How could I expose my poor sweet innocent child to this.

Hold on a second though...  When Star Wars came out in 1977, I was 3 maybe 4 at best.  My parents took me to see it 8 times!  (Mind you, I think I slept through it most of the time.)  When I pointed this out to my parents, they were taken aback.  Indeed they had corrupted me with the evil film, and I turned out...  Well, I can't say normal, but my shrink thinks I'm getting better.

You do monitor your kids don't you?!?
It got me to thinking though, why do we shelter our children so much?  Society in general tells us that our kids are precious snowflakes which must be protected at all costs.  We put them in helmets when they ride their bikes, we diligently monitor everything they watch, their friends, their teachers, their very lives!  We as parents know that if you let your child experience life in any non sheltered way, you are subject to arrest.  In fact, this mom was arrested and incarcerated for 18 hours for the crime of letting her kids play outside, while she was supervising them!  Keep your kids inside parents, exposure to fresh air and sun is punishable.  They might get a sunburn.  

But why on earth do we think our kids our so damn fragile?  Why do we believe they will be mentally scarred for life if they are scared by anything worse than their own shadow.  We let our children believe that the universe is rainbows and lollipops, and that bad things only happen to bad people.  Any semblance of freedom will surely lead to their abduction, or worse, to them hurting their feelings and becoming an antisocial member of society!
Yeah Matt, we heard this before.
I'm lazy already.

Now what most of you are thinking right now is that I'm going to launch on one of my diatribes on how the latest generation are also bunch of wussies like I have on more than a few blogs before. This however goes beyond that. It's not just the latest generation which has been wussified, it is our entire society. The kids, the parents, the grandparents, everyone.  (Please note that I am Canadian, and write ethnocentrically.  If this blog does not apply, feel free to read a different blog, featuring BOOBS!)

A friend of mine recently pointed out to me that back in Roman times they used bring the whole whole family on down to the local arena to enjoy some good man on man slaughter for entertainment. It wasn't all fighting though... there was exotic animals for the kids. You know like lions and tigers eating slaves for snacks. Good old fashioned family entertainment. I'm pretty sure that all of Rome didn't turn out to be serial killers. I'm also pretty sure that they didn't all become nonfunctional members of society unable to maintain meaningful daily routine. As a matter of fact, they became a dominant player in the world, and were able to create, conquer, and make a name for themselves as one of the most important civilizations of all time.

A game of skill and finesse...
But that's not fair, you might argue. You can't compare our society to theirs. They were barbaric butchers, bludgeoning their way through life. Where we live, we wouldn't stand for that. We are civilized people who abhor violence, where they celebrated conquering their neighbours. Canadians exist peacefully with the world, and have a human rights record which is unmatched. Democracy exists to give everyone the right to their say, where they lived under a system of tyranny, in which killing was the only means of survival.  Our entertainment is a of a more civilized ilk.

It is very true that while our societies differ considerably, the fact remains that through out history there are numerous examples of kids being exposed to things that would make toughest of the adults in our society horrified. In Athens, the birth place of democracy, relationships between grown men and young boys were common. Their neighbours in Sparta taught their kids to be able to fight or die at ages where we won't let our kids hold a butter knife. All over the world, killing people was like pay-per-view entertainment.  France and their guillotine, Witch burnings in Salem.  Even right here in Hamilton less than two hundred years ago, taking the kids to see a drawing and quartering was considered a nice picnic atmosphere.  (Read about the Bloody Assize)
Tee hee hee, Ass Size....

The truth is all societies have to adapt their attitudes around their needs. If your civilization in constantly under the threat of being attacked ruthlessly by their enemies, then it behooves it to introduce their youth to violence at an early age. This allows them to more effectively defend themselves and survive, and even dominate other societies.  Our schools teach us how to learn things which are fun, but ultimately useless.  (Except math of course, I still use that, mostly to help my kids with their homework.)

We learned about dinosaurs,
They learned how to kill a man three ways with a paperclip.
We find this barbaric because we haven't grown up having to deal with self-defense. Morals are dictated but societal needs, and not by anything else. That's why kids in history have been treated like the adults we are today.  That's also why adults today act like the youth of history.  Kids, like all humans can adapt to their societies needs, and what's more can do so more pliably than most adults can.

So the answer is this... We treat our kids like precious snowflakes because we don't need to make them grow up. It's not their fault if they turn into wussies who can't fail at anything because they haven't been taught how. It's ours. Competition has become a bad word,  and self esteem seems to be the only thing that matters. We raised our kids this way, because in turn it was the way we were raised. We live in a safe society where we don't fear being attacked daily because the government protects us. As such we don't feel the need to have to defend ourselves.

I'm gonna learn how to virtually kill people
and yell racial and homophobic slurs when I virtually die.
Having said that, we have to remember however, that as sensitive as we think our kids are, (comparatively speaking, they are...)  Kids are also lot stronger than we give them credit for. What's more, they will find ways to express themselves that we don't understand. (Pokeman comes to mind).  Best we take control and give the a little bit of non-child Friendly entertainment before they are old enough to control us, and turn our old age homes into a life like simulation of Grand Theft Auto, wheelchair wars.

Of course, if you can't handle it, you can always use these. 
These ARE the droids you're looking for.

Now if you'll pardon me, I have to go console my daughter...  She's crying because the barracuda killed Nemo's mom and then ate all his baby brother's and sisters.