Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Eighties. WTF.

The following appeared in the February edition of Chicago Parent.

The year was 1984.

I went over to my friend’s house to check out the hot, new thing: cable television.

For the very low cost of $30 per month, people could watch TV with NO COMMERCIALS.

The audacity. The bravery. The brilliance. Sign me up!

Unfortunately, I was only making $1.50 an hour babysitting, and there was no chance my parents would ever pay for such a luxury. So I kept going over to my friend’s basement. At first, we were all about the videos.

Van Halen. Cyndi Lauper. Michael Jackson.

I was definitely going to marry Eddie Van Halen.

Then we discovered the MOVIES.

Porky’s. Animal House. Revenge of the Nerds.

In hindsight, our selections were far from appropriate for a pair of 11 year-old girls. But few parents back then were paying attention because of a historic reliance on network television to filter out such smut.

Today’s world would suggest that such exposure would damage us for life. We’d marry misogynists. We’d probably do drugs. Arrest records were inevitable.

Instead, I would argue these experiences are responsible for a certain appreciation of the absurd.

It’s why I love Seinfeld.

Recently, I spotted one of these films (edited) on television. My high school son wandered into the room and watched Revenge of the Nerds with me. He could not stop laughing at how completely non-PC the movie was.

“Oh my God, it was anything goes in the ‘80s, wasn’t it?”

I started getting flustered, even the edited version was raunchier than I remembered.

“Uh…this stuff was wrong then…uh…drugs are bad….uh don’t film people naked….”

“Relax, mom. It’s a movie, not a morality lesson.”

And there it was. As I kid, I understood the characters in these films were ridiculous and laughable.

I knew what they did was wrong.

While I don’t condone most 11 year-olds watching these flicks, I did realize something important: 

Parenting dictates how a lot of movies are received.

But we’ll all be watching The Sound of the Music next week.

Just in case.

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