I've been dating a single mom who has kids that range from 11 - 18 years old. They're good kids (all girls) and are very entertaining. However, if I crack a joke about anything that happened before the mid '90s, then I get a "deer in headlights" look from them. My god kids are the same way. Anything that happened before they were 3 years old escapes them.
Now, to my younger readers, that may seem normal, but to people my age or older, it's not. When I was growing up, TV was a family event. We had two TV's, but the biggest and best-looking TV was in the den where the family watched together. So, we had to decide as a unit what to watch which usually meant that my parents made the decision. Because of this, I watched a lot of shows and movies that were made way before I was born.
Parents these days don't normally watch TV with their kids, so the kids have the freedom to choose programming. And we all know that if you allow a child freedom, then the odds are they're only going to watch mainstream programming. Parents allowing the TV to "babysit" their children is one of the main reason why kids don't really know a lot about the world in regards to pop culture. They don't know "Who Shot J.R." or have an idea who "Jack Tripper" was. They only know the "now."
Thanks to my parents, I have a great appreciation for the things that occurred before I was born. In fact, I watched "Dragnet," "Gilligan's Island," "Gidget," and "Get Smart," to name a few. In fact, some of my favorite people and things were born/created before I even took my first breath.
Muhammad Ali was always an inspiration to me despite the fact that he was past his prime by the time I got to 2nd grade. He was the first celebrity athlete, but a lot of people don't remember his ads for D-Con Roach Traps. My father is the reason that I love boxing and after my generation dies, I think that boxing will with it unless they get more sensible about pay per view pricing.
My favorite singer of all-time died seven years before I was even born. My parents had four Sam Cooke records and I would wear them out whenever they left the house. I never even saw a photo of him until I was almost a teen-ager yet he was my favorite.
Aside from the crush that I had on Lucille Ball, her show, "I Love Lucy," was absolutely hilarious. Of course at the time, I didn't know that her and Ricky Ricardo were credited with being the first interracial couple on TV. I just enjoyed the antics that Lucy got into on the show. I would advise anyone of any age to watch this if given the chance. Somehow I doubt that "Vitameatavegamin" means anything to anyone under 35.
Oh, I remember Westerns. I'm sure my buddies, Squatlo or Mooner, appreciate a good western movie as well. My favorite is "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. It was released four years before I was born, but thanks to my father, I gave it a chance and enjoyed it as well as many others. "Westworld," "Buck & The Preacher," and even "The Terror of Tiny Town" from 1938 which starred an entire cast of little people.
I made my god kids sit down to watch "Tom & Jerry" with me and I'm glad that they did. They are 10 and 6 and both of them laughed harder than I've seen with any Spongebob episode they've watched in my presence. "Tom & Jerry," "Rocky & Bullwinkle" and "Looney Tunes" are always cartoons of choice whenever they come over. "Spongebob Squarepants" is still their favorite, but at least they were willing to give the old stuff a try.
And that's all I'm asking my readers, who are parents or mentors, to do. Sit a child down and at least attempt to get them to appreciate the classics. Sure, the special effects may not be as good. And yes, the actors/actresses may be unknown to them. Heck, it may even be in black and white. But, there was real talent back then. Not this reality show garbage with people willing to punch someone in the face for a buck, but people who were born entertainers.
It can go a long way towards them learning how to embrace the past and respect it as well. It's not cute when a teen asks you what an iPhone looked like in the 80's or did you follow Michael Jackson on Twitter after his Thriller video came out. Not a good look at all.
Now, if you don't mind, I need to update my Netflix queue for my girlfriend's kids. They haven't a clue who "E.T." is. (SMH)
Do you take the time to try and teach your kids to appreciate the classics?