Parental Supervision–TV Edition

The other day I was watching Puppet Master on TV. An ’80s classic to be sure. I remember watching it with my sister when it came out on cable. I was probably 10 or 11, which would have made my sister 9 or 10 at the time. You could say that we might have been a little too young to be watching a movie in which a bunch of creepy puppets murder people, but hey, it was the late ’80s/early ’90s. We were allowed to do that back then.

The question came up on Twitter once about what were you not allowed to watch as a kid. While other people are listing R-rated movies and TV shows like South Park and in some cases The Simpsons, I really had to think about it because we didn’t really have restrictions on the TV we consumed. The best I could come up with was we weren’t allowed to watch anything with excessive sex. That’s it. Excessive violence was fine. We were allowed to watch horror movies with the understanding that we were not to wake up our mother if we had nightmares. We made this choice. We got to deal with the consequences.

This is why I went through a period of sleep deprivation one summer after watching Creepshow 2 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4. I was afraid to sleep because I was afraid to have nightmares. It turns out I don’t remember having any nightmares about the movies when I did sleep and as I’ve gotten older I realize the my nightmares act independently of anything I watch. They just are.

As a result of this lack of parental supervision, I watched A LOT of horror movies when I was more than likely too young to be watching them. I can remember sitting on the couch when I was really little watching Poltergeist and V: The Mini Series with my dad. Of the two, it turns out V was the one that scarred me for life. Fucking lizard people.

The best part was that this lack of parental supervision extended to grandparents on both sides. In the case of my paternal grandpa, you could say it was even encouraged. He might make us rent stuff like The Journey of Natty Gan and The Princess Bride from the video store, but then we’d go back to the house and he’d say, “Oh, look! There’s a Maximum Overdrive/Duel double feature!” and then we’d watch that (my sister still hates driving alongside semis).

At his place I can remember watching Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch; The Hitcher; Aliens; Poltergeist III; and Trilogy of Terror (I was convinced the Zuni doll lived in the bookcase after that viewing).

At my maternal grandmother’s house, I’d sometimes go off to watch TV in the den. There I remember watching Jaws 2, Cujo, and Motel Hell.

Most of these movies were consumed by my eyeballs before I got through junior high (some of them before I got to junior high).

And it wasn’t just horror that we were allowed to watch, either. There were some more adult action and comedy flicks we were consuming at tender ages, too. I don’t know how many kids in fourth grade watched Fatal Beauty, but for a period of time, I could quote it. Ditto for Police Academy 3, but that was one of those things where the adult jokes kind of fly over your head and you just laugh at Proctor walking into a room full of people while stark naked.

TV shows were the same way. Do you want to watch Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted? Go for it. Pro wrestling and Beverly Hills 90210? Enjoy. 21 Jump Street and Cagney and Lacey? By all means. Cartoons? Okay then. Cartoons are for kids anyway. Just no Wile E. Coyote impersonations.

Did I watch age-appropriate stuff? Sure. All the time. Did all of this unbridled media consumption warp me? I dunno. I think if it did, it’s probably way down on the list.

Did it help form my tastes in regards to the media I consume as an apparent adult? Yeah, I’m sure it did. I wouldn’t have watched all of those horror movies as a kid if I weren’t fascinated with them and wasn’t willing to face the potential nightmares to experience them.

Am I saying that parents should let their kids watch whatever? Of course not. They’re your kids. Warp them in your own unique way.

I’m just saying that for me, I’m glad I wasn’t so supervised.

A Quick Thought on Love Winning

rainbowflagLast Friday marriage equality was declared law of the land and I am down with that. Not because I’m the marrying kind (thought if I do decide that I am the marrying kind and the kind I want to marry is a woman, then yes, I have a vested interest in this outcome in the future), but because I know that there are other people that are the marrying kind and I think they should have that civil right. I am all for it.

The reason I think I am so all for it and probably would be all for it even if I wasn’t a bisexual gal is because of my great-aunt and my childhood.

I have a great-aunt who is a lesbian and throughout my childhood she and her then-girlfriend were often present at family functions. These were happy occasions usually, filled with food and laughter and hugs. Wonderful, warm occurrences in my existence. Now, the children were never expressly told that my great-aunt was a lesbian (I was in my teens before I did that math and then got confirmation from my mother), but in my kid-brain I put her and her girlfriend together. They were always at the family functions together so in my head they were one entity, a team, a partnership. And I remember a lot of my cousins referring to them likewise.

The big thing about these family functions, though, was that even though it was not expressly stated to the children that my great-aunt was a lesbian, none of the adults treated her as anything but a beloved family member. She was never treated as an other or a less-than. She was never treated, at least in my memory, as a deviant or a disappointment. She was loved and respected and cherished and so was her girlfriend.

So to see people so dedicated to treating people like my great-aunt as other or less-than, to deny them a government contract that grants them a certain set of rights that are only granted to couples that enter into that contract, to see people that I share DNA with, my own blood, HER own blood, putting their religion and their adherence to a cherry-picked handbook above someone that they are told by that same handbook to love, is just fucking baffling to me. I don’t get it and I decided on Friday, once and for all, that I’m not going to get it and I don’t want to get it. I’m sorry you feel that way and I feel sorry for you because you feel that way. I’m sorry you choose self-righteousness and a promise of an afterlife by some super judgmental god over loving and protecting and relating to people in the here and now. But if that makes you happy (and considering how many folks are frothing at the mouth right now, it doesn’t seem to make them THAT  happy), then you do you.

But my great-aunt is not an other. She is not a less-than. I am not a less-than. That guy you don’t know marrying his partner of fifty years is not a less-than.

The way you cut your own humanity off like it’s some sort of defect, though, that’s pretty less-than.

Love wins.

2013: Getting Louder

Electronic red megaphone on stand.

My goal for 2013 is to be louder.

 

I want to be louder about who I am and what I want and what I’m doing.

 

I want to be louder in my support of my friends and the really cool things they do and the cool people they are.

 

I want to be louder in my support of my family, too.

 

I want to be louder about needing help and support.

 

I want to be louder about being a writer.

 

I want to be louder about being a Rerun Junkie.

 

I want to be louder about being a bad fan.

 

I want to be louder about being a fat girl.

 

I want to be louder about being a fat girl belly dancing.

 

I want to be louder about my fashion sense.

 

I want to be louder about getting what I want.

 

I want to be louder about having a good time.

 

In short, I want 2013 to be one hell of a noisy year.

 

Kiss Me, I’m Not Irish

I’m not Irish. At least I’m pretty sure I’m not Irish.

I say this because St. Patrick’s Day is approaching and never will you meet so many people claiming Irish decent. I don’t know if it’s the green beer or the desire to be kissed, but suddenly everyone’s got a leprachaun hanging from their family tree.

So, yeah, I’m not Irish. At least I haven’t found any evidence to suggest that there’s any Irish in my family. I fully acknowledge that there are branches of my tree that haven’t been fully explored (and some that haven’t been well pruned or watered, but that’s another post for another day). Maybe I do have a few shamrocks in there. But until I see some evidence, I won’t presume anything for the sake of wearing green bowlers and Chicago dying their river a brighter shade of green.

From what I’m told by members of my family that had the tenacity to actually research branches of my family, I’m mostly Scottish and German. That’s on both sides, too. To simplify things I just say that I’m half-Scottish, half-German, though I know that there’s at least one Frenchman in there on my Dad’s side, and I’m not sure about part of my mother’s family.

My Dad’s family (those bearing the Haws name) crossed the ocean a long time ago. A long, long time ago. We’re talking the late 1600’s. As soon as Scotland heard that there was a new country open they put my family on the boat.

At least that’s one of the stories that’s told. The other popular story is that as sheep thieves, we had to leave to escape punishment (a similar story is told about why my family moved from Kentucky to Illinois: they don’t hang horse thieves in Illinois). No one really knows why my family immigrated since it happened so long ago. That story was lost to the erosion of time. 

I know that the family first came to Virginia before moving to Kentucky and finally Illinois. Living in the south during the time of slavery might lead some to fear that there are slave owners in their past. Not my family. I don’t think we’ve ever had a pot to piss in; I doubt they ever owned enough of anything to warrent owning a slave. I’m not entirely sure my family didn’t come over as indentured servants themselves.

On the other side, my mother’s side of the family (at least her dad’s side) hasn’t been in this country that long in comparison. Somehow a man from Scotland and a woman from Germany immigrated from their respective countries, met up in Ohio, got hitched, started a family, and eventually ended up in Illinois. Five generations later, here I am. It’s kind of wild to think that I’m not that far removed from the mother countries.

I’m not sure why that side of the family came to this country either. I’m guessing it was in search of a better life. That was the trend back in those days. I’m guessing they found one, though why anyone thought Central Illinois would be a good idea, I don’t know. It must have been a more happening place back then.

Scottish and German. That’s me. It’s not as sexy as being Irish, but I’m still proud of it.

It’s also a great excuse for my questionable taste in fashion. I mean, come on. Lederhosen and kilts.

I never had a chance.