Monday, December 19, 2011

On Virtue


Disclaimer: US Magazine arrives in my mailbox addressed to the former renters of this house. I don't deny reading it however. It's like indulging in crappy candy bar: toothsome, high in nostalgia points, but overall too many stupid calories to waste on something so poorly made.

As a self-proclaimed Over-thinker Extraordinaire, I see crap like this lying around on my coffee table and I cannot help but stop and take a picture. I know it's not pornography lying on a copy of the Bible, but this contradiction of input in my life is precisely the reason I wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself, "What the hell is going on in this messed up world? How can I manage to be a decent parent when these opposing messages are floating around my home?" Then I try incredibly hard to erase the thoughts that follow, the ruminating, the catastrophizing, what to do about my inner inactive activist, amongst other textbook depressive thoughts. My poor mind lives in two worlds: one of deep existential doubt and grouchiness, the other full of light and love and optimism. I suppose I have to pay tribute to both halves... and it goes a little something like this:

"Kim Kardashian, I love to hate you. I love that we don't know one another and I can giggle about you and your emptiness and your bizarre lifestyle. I adore the fact that we can use you as everyday gossip. You are a prime example of sleazy convo filler that is welcome in a variety of social circumstances, and for that I thank you. Honest. (It's much easier to chit chat about you than it is to unleash any criticism about my peers, and when I read about you I have access to that part of my brain that is empty and shallow. I suppose that part needs nourishing too.) Every day that you maintain a sense of sanity under such intense public scrutiny is pretty heroic actually. Look at what Hollywood did to poor Lindsay Lohan... and she actually had some talent! I'm not tired of seeing your face on magazines yet so please keep up the good work. "

AND TO THE OTHER (more virtuous) HALF:

"(Post Post) Modern "Western Civilization" That Has Adopted a Quasi Buddhist Mentality- I love to love you. You are (besides my family) the reason I'm alive. You've taught me a lot about how we as humans matter and don't matter. It's pretty fucking cool, although it does make me feel sad when I'm shopping for cheap nail polish at Target or when I use plastic bags and paper towels. It's like I'm a Super-Bad-Cheater-Fraud in those dark moments... but at least you give me balance and perspective. Without you, my concept of world peace seems unattainable. You allow me to forgive myself and others for all of our vices, and you help me mindfully do the dishes and laundry when I want to say screw it and run away from home. Om Shanti."

Phew. Happy to have that rant off of my brain for a bit. Huge apologies to those of you who can't wrap your heads around what I'm talking about... consider yourself lucky maybe? Maybe you don't have children of your own yet - because that was the real turning point for me - especially when they learned how to read and listen to pop music. I have to ask though, what are these mediums saying and doing to their innocent minds? These little humans I created - they believe in Santa! Mr. MagicPants himself thriving in my children's thoughts... I find it absolutely endearing. If we can easily convince them that a fat bearded man gives loads of toys to a billion children around the world simultaneously, isn't that proof enough that their fresh and empty minds are so ready to be filled with the sordid messages of our INSANE world? I try so hard to keep it "clean" for them (the F-Bomb Mom has paid loads to the Foul Language Collection Jar recently) but I'm finding it borderline impossible on many levels.

I have decided, however, that I don't want to shelter my kids beyond reason. Eventually they will have to sensibly navigate the hectic input of media with an informed mind on their own and I feel I do have to give them a sense of perspective somehow (maybe we save the semiotics lesson for high school).

"That magazine is total junk," I've said over and over when they try to sneak away and inspect the "Who Wore It Best" section. And then I heard recently from Ruby, "If it's junk, why do you read it?" I explain to them that it's like having an unhealthy meal - if you consume too much of it, your body doesn't stay healthy.

What I haven't explained yet is that I also like to believe that the virtuous material almost (almost) cancels out the smut.

And the message is... eat the candy, go on a long run. Offset your carbon emissions. Is that what I'm saying? At least for now, this is the best I can come up with.

1 comment:

Amelia said...

I spend a lot of time too thinking about the same dire dilemma's of this world right now and many a day thinking about the effect on my kid (now kids). One thing I have learnt as one turns 19 is that they copy what they see me doing (argh!) I can't hide the dodgy things out in the world but I can be an example. Sometimes I am astounded by the way my daughter has turned out (I think she's lovely and has some fab values) and whilst it's not all down to me (yes, I was a solo parent to her) I realise she had to figure her own way in the world I could only be but there with thoughts, opinions and doing my own bit too . . . the other child, well, that's a whole other story that involves aspergers syndrom and a whole lot of copying what he sees, but hey, I'm working on that one ;)

As for trashy mags I made them in to potent pieces of critical and satirical art work ;)

Had to give a long comment to such a well-written and thought-provoking blog post.

Happy day,