August 22, 2006
"Look Out for Mr. Stork": Stream of Thought
No...I know what you're thinking, and it's not that. I'm 41 and if that were the case, I surely wouldn't be humming a jaunty little ditty from Dumbo. More like screaming, "I'm Late!" from Alice in Wonderland.
Anyway, I'm not even talking about storks or babies here - bad title. I thinking about media and art forms and popular thought and even propagating thought...it just started when I got this stork song in my head. Then I thought of Song of the South, for some reason...and the fact that Disney has refused to release it on video in the United States because of the racial issues involved. I remember seeing that as a child. I don't think I have any bad associations with it, just singing cartoon birdies in a happy meadow and sweet singing faces of the people around. And Briar Rabbit, vaguely. But I'd have to watch it again as an adult to understand the issue fully.
I'm not talking about racial issues here either actually...I have no interest in sharing the movie with my kids. I was thinking about how media and art produce these glimpses of time for us, these reflections of our lives or someone's thoughts about our lives or their life and we are encouraged to buy a view of it, be entertained by it, consider it and perhaps even changed by it. No matter the content, really. Think about this. Consider this. Be open to this. Think this way. Now don't think this way - don't even think about thinking this way. Leaves in the wind? I have to wonder. Then again, some art is timeless, like Van Gogh's Starry Night, copied here by my 9 year old son Luke. Can we recognize quality and goodness from the start and teach our kids how to do the same, how to be wise consumers and discerners? Anyway, I guess my thoughts could have something to do with the fact that my son and I are reading 1984...and I'm feeling like cattle.
I just read this article about Tom and Jerry in Britain. How they're going to cut scenes of them smoking. Sounds reasonable too, I certainly don't want my kids thinking smoking is cool. But what are they watching now, being encouraged to embrace now that I'm missing...that I'm being encouraged to relinquish my kids to...that is politically correct now, and they will have to question later? Fine and dandy now, hey, it's 2006! Bad later. There are universal truths and they are not given to us through movies, music and tv very often, especially not to kids - the future of our country's economy. But Buying into this crap certainly has nothing to do with universal truths.
And for instance, The Hardy Boys. They have a portly friend who's always referred to as hungry, or slow, or ample. My sons point it out when they read it because in their current world they are encouraged not to make these observations or descriptions. Then it was one thing to be fat, now it's another and we all must be on the same exact page. We can still openly refer to someone as skinny or gawky or skeletal and assume all the boney people wouldn't mind. Oh, that someone would call me boney. I wonder if the future will prove different. I was just thinking about how we sometimes support certain art forms saying they simply reflect current truths and therefore it's okay to portray or sing about awful things that offend certain others now, or certain universal truths. It's passed off as just an expression and expression is what it is. But then years later, when that expression is no longer acceptable to certain other people or doesn't serve that faction any more or has become distasteful to most, it's banned.
So...Tom and Jerry, The Hardy Boys, Song of the South...they start out as happy little fun harmless things to some. And then their content is suddenly offensive. Surely many saw the position of African Americans in the Song of the South era then for what it was...surely many knew that it was wrong to take into the body a substance God never intended as nourishment, but it was the thing of the time and that's always okay in art...till it's not. I wonder if we'll ever look at these things critically from the start, and have the discipline and wisdom to reject them at the start. Some do. Or if we'll continue to excuse "modern culture" until it's out of style and passe, then have a good critical look at it. What's more important? Modern culture and art and entertainment or good & right?
On the other hand: Remember when it was so fun to think of storks dropping babies onto porches and the couples scooping them up into their loving and surprised arms?! Warning: Someday that will not be entertainment! People are going to be unable to have children and the idea of getting one so easily will be fiercely offensive! Quit vexing them with storks! Plus, storks will be extinct and, well, that would be rude.