Censorship vs. Effect
My writing has been kind of heavy lately as I struggle with my emotions in remembering my father as of late.
So here goes an “every day” dad post.
I talk to, and see, my daughters on Facetime nearly every night. And we talk about everything from the day at school, friends that they hang around with, Q & A, and many times, homework assistance, and often, just some plain silliness. Every now and then, we read to each other.
My daughters have always loved reading, and being read to. So, any time that there is an opportunity to have either read to me, I jump on that opportunity. Of course, my daughters are long passed Dr. Suess and the Magic Tree House series.
My oldest daughter is into “anime” these days, in particular something called “hetalia.” I am not really sure what the whole thing is about, and to be honest, it does not matter to me. What does matter, is that my daughter takes the time to share something with me, that makes her happy, and even happier knowing that she can share it with me.
Now of course, this level of literature, is more geared towards teenagers, so the language, imagery, and activities will be a lot stronger. As she was reading to me, she got to a sentence that she felt the need to warn me:
“Daddy, I just need to tell you, there are occasionally some bad words.”
I held back the slight giggle I wanted to release, but this just goes to show, that my daughter did recognize that there are things that are not looked at favorably, especially for a child to say or repeat. But since I was reading along with her on my laptop, I could see the word in question, “asses” which was being used to describe a troublemaker in the story.
That opened up an opportunity for me to explain about censorship, when it is carried too far, and just when, it is not as much necessary for censorship as much as consideration.
My oldest has always loved singing. She went through the Kelly Clarkson phase before she was two, then Ashley Tisdale, and by age 4, she was into a catchy song by Avril Lavigne, “Girlfriend.”
I got a phone call from daycare one afternoon with a very concerned teacher, “Mr. Edelman, do you know what your daughter is singing?” Innocently I said, “not really.” I was not concerned. “Mr. Edelman, she is singing ‘Girlfriend’ from Avril Lavigne.” Again I held back the laughter, and then asked, “did she sing it edited or unedited?” I knew what the concern was. In the song, Lavigne uses what is considered two “curse” words, one definitely considered offensive. Now my daughter had heard both versions, so my question was legitimate. As it turned out, she did sing the edited version, so there was nothing more for me to address.
But as I had the conversation advance last night, I brought this situation up. I mentioned that it was unfortunate that an artist like Lavigne, with connections to Disney, felt the need to include at least one very offensive word in the lyrics to that hit. And other artists who felt the need to do so as well. I named some artists that I knew my daughter would recognize, and she acknowledged that there were bad words in some of their songs. And I told her, that while the songs were good, and the artists were talented, they did not need to use offensive words to get their talent out. And who knows, they might even get more attention that way.
We also discussed how times had changed even from reading certain literature, or movies that had been edited to censor what at one time was okay to produce for effect. Yes, both books and movies have lost their “tone” by this censorship. We talked about how and when is the appropriate time to use the stronger words. She had been tested a few months ago when she referred to certain presidential candidates as a certain name, not commonly heard by a teenager, but clearly adults. Whether I agree with her sentiments or not, her teacher did not appreciate the method that was expressed to get her opinion out. And so, we did have that talk.
That brought back a memory I had when I flipped my first middle finger, having been taught by my elders that “the middle finger doesn’t mean anything,” as if using reverse psychology would keep me from doing it. It did not. And as I repeatedly gave that same middle finger to my elementary school principal, proving to him that it not only meant nothing, but actually did not physically hurt anything, only got me in deeper trouble.
I am glad I have this opportunity to keep my daughters on the right track.