Boundbytheword Blog

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Screwing with young minds since 1937… March 16, 2011

“I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me…”

This is what played on the radio today while I made lunch for my daughter. I’d never really listened to the words of Rihanna’s song that closely. Needless to say they were crystal clear when they rang from my eight-year-old daughter’s mouth as I stood grilling up a cheese sandwich. It’s a catchy tune.

Good god. I now have a better appreciation of when I was twelve years old and my father was dismayed as I bellowed out AC/DC’s “Big Balls”. What the heck chance do you have when you have this kind of pop culture shaping your kids?

Gone are the days of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White in our house, and it kind of snuck up on me. Now I have to manoeuvre through mine fields of radio idols singing about S&M, sending the message that treating me bad, is oh so good.

I want to go back to decisions about braids or pigtails. I want to have simple discussions, like how in order to be a real princess you must have royal blood or marry a real prince, and they live very far away. That was easier. That also seemed like less of a reality than my daughter growing up and encountering boys that grew up listening to those same songs, shaping the men they’ve become.

Maybe I’m naive. After all, the messages from the princesses aren’t “I am woman hear me roar”. They might not have been into bondage, but what they said between the lines isn’t a great way to shape a young mind either. Take a listen, and let me know which is sending my daughter into therapy one day… Rihanna or Snow White?

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11 Responses to “Screwing with young minds since 1937…”

  1. Lisa Llamrei Says:

    The princesses are definitely worse than Rihanna, hands down. Sit around and wait for a man to come and rescue you. All you need to do to get along in life is look pretty and let others take advantage of you until your fairy godmother comes along to make it all right.

    Rihanna is by no means the worst one out there. Try listening to Lady Gaga – stalking and violence. Even Shania Twain has a couple of songs about super-possessive alcoholic morons, although at least her language is clean. The saving grace of pop song lyrics is that by the time kids are old enough to understand them, they’ve lost the sponge-like absorbency of younger children and are questioning moral concepts. That’s when you can have real open discussions.

    • Yeah…that prince charming dream is a real winner isn’t it? It’s no wonder we’re all a mess! And you’re right, so many songs have really bad messages. I don’t really get it, the tune is so great you could sing along to a shopping list…so I don’t know why they have to put lyrics that make a parents head spin.

      Of course that’s probably what makes it cool in the eyes of teenagers. When did I get old?

  2. Norma Bickle Says:

    Wow !! that brought home the memories of that afternoon episode of AC|DC lyrics All I know is that every generation has dubious lyrics to contend with. ie “I get no kick from cocaine” from the 4o’s or “every man needs a party doll, to be with him when he’s feeling wild” 50’s and on through the decades. “Elvis” was considered to be leading the younger generation to hell in a handbasket in his day. I guess it is for each generation of parents to forge their own set of rules.Remember your Dad’s answer was you could listen and dance but not sing the lyrics out loud LOL you probably obeyed until he was out of earshot, but at least you were aware that a caring parent thought the lyrics were inappropriate for you in his eyes, and see, you still remember it. Good Luck.

    • I know! Poor dad probably thought he would have a heart attack! Especially at the fact that he drove me to the mall to buy that album with my birthday money…lol. Somehow that would bug him even more I know it!

      I recently heard a Rough Trade song – High School Confidential – where the lead singer was Carol Pope. I was shocked that she is talking about a girl she likes and she “It makes me cream my jeans when she comes my way”. WHAT? I was in grade eight when that song came out and I know I didn’t get that, but I sure sang along…lol. I guess I was a slow learner!

  3. Rhonda Says:

    So Noelle, you just made the point I was going to make… which is that just because they sing along… doesn’t mean that they “get it”. I can safely say that I sang along to some VERY inappropriate lyrics from the “Grease” Soundtrack and I had no idea what I was saying until just a few years ago when I printed off the lyrics for my daughter to learn as a singing assignment! I was shocked and shredded most of the songs allowing her to only see the ones I had approved.

    That is what I remind myself when I hear them singing along to (one of my favorites) Pink who mostly has a good message about being yourself but also alsways has a thread of alcoholism and swearing too.

    Bottom line, I sang to inappropriate songs and watched inappropriate movies and MOST people would agree that I turned out to still be a decent human being. And regardless of “Big Balls”, you did too! So I am sure that you don’t have to worry too much when your children sing along, I say, just sign with them!

    • I agree – Grease had some crude lyrics for sure! And you’re right – you turned out completly normal. The jury is out on me some days, but mostly, i’m okay too, so you may have a valid point.

      As for the advice from princesses, I’m not so sure!

  4. Corey Liu Says:

    I think the one thing parents should definitely be wary of is the Twilight series. You’ve mentioned the gender politics of fairy tales, and I would argue that the same rules apply to the Twilight universe – and to any other vampire series on right now. Usually, the protagonist is an idealized female virgin who is irresistible to predators and in constant need of being saved by her vampire boyfriend. Specific to Twilight, she is also obsessed with becoming a vampire (and eventually becomes one) so that she can remain eternally youthful, suggesting to the reader that female aging and growth are to be feared. Then there’s the fact that in all vampire series the vampire boyfriend needs to feed on the heroine, the most literal example I can find of a parasitic relationship. If we are afraid that the girls of today are being fed images of damseling ideals then I think we could look at something as pervasive as Twilight and other celebrations of vampire culture.

    Wow, sorry. That was more long-winded than I had intended. I had just had a conversation with my roommate about Twilight, and she was passionately defending the series and its “feminist” message. Maybe she’s right, and I’m being too hard. I just think it’s interesting that in Twilight, True Blood, and Vampire Diaries, not once is there a human male coupled with an empowered female vampire. The power relations between the genders are clearly skewed more one way than the other.

  5. Lisa Llamrei Says:

    I have to agree with Corey about the Twilight series. But not all vampire culture is that way. Anne Rice has a number of empowered female vampires. They don’t tend to have relationships with human males, but then she doesn’t do a lot of human-vampire relationships period and many of those are same-sex relationships. Unfortunately, she doesn’t appeal much to the younger set (and she’s no longer writing vampire books), so really all they see is the helpless human female. Also Laurell K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter series is fantastic – definitely no helpless human female there. Her books have much more of a chance with young people, with a little nudging. Quite violent, but not more so than most of what’s on tv these days (perhaps that will spawn a new blog entry).

    Again, though, by the time Twilight appeals to kids, they are teenagers and are questioning values anyway. Doesn’t take as much to plant the seed of doubt as it did when they were six. One of Decara’s friends (age 13) talks about how sexist Twilight is. I definitely want Decara to have more of her influence.

    • I agree with both of you in terms of Twilight.

      I’ll confess, I did read the books – all four of them – and was sucked in by the absolute longing the author brought to the page. Anyone who has half a brain cell left can remember the torture of longing with lust as a teen. She nailed that emotion. BUT…

      The overall message in that book was scary to say the least. Think about it – if Edward – the male lead – was just a guy instead of a sexy vampire, it would be reminiscent of Julia Roberts 1990’s movie – Sleeping With the Enemy, where we all creeped out by the man who loved her so.

      Being stalked, controlled, bullied…these were all prominent themes in Twilight, but it was okay because he loved her so much! AHHHHH! That she is willing to give up every friend, every family member, and her life for him, but it’s okay because they were fated for each other, soul mates -that is one scary message to put out there to impressionable minds.

      That being said – I loved Anne Rice’s series as well. I don’t fully understand the fascination of vampires for women, except perhaps it is hopelessly romantic to think someone could love you forever, and be true to you alone – that is, until they suck the life out of you.

  6. Jenna Says:

    I totally agree that is why we only listened to KX96 the Country station in the car and at home the odd DAM OR HELL is nothing compared to that. Emily is now almost 13 and starting to listen to other music but I can still control what goes on that IPOD and I still love my country music (she does too) so we are ok for now.. Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood are the fav’s so we are fine for now..
    Did you Lady Ga Ga on stage 1/2 naked with a 10yr old on her lap singing what the hell was that !!!!

    • I did see the clip of GaGa with the girl on her lap. It did seem a little weird to me too. But this wouldn’t be the first time the words weird and GaGa were in the same sentence. That is how she markets herself after all. That’s her gimmick for fame.

      I have to admit, country music has retained more of the innocence in lyrics. Other than the fact that they sing about losing their man, their dog, their white picket fence – they seem to keep their dignity, and seldom sing about losing their pants.

      Sadly – I can only do the Swift and Underwood versions of country music…new country is as down home as I can go.


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