Sunday, July 18, 2010

Children, Puritans, Crazy Chicks

I see that a couple weeks ago I was evoked as an example of a libertarian with conservative cultural sympathies (due to my debate with Kerry Howley), in a Daily Caller column defending gay marriage.  I don’t want to exaggerate my conservatism, since I also have my punk side (as the blog slogan suggests), but there are certainly times when I think there is something fundamentally awry with the anything-goes cultural attitudes of our fallen era, like the religiony folk are always telling me.  I think we’d all be better off if we listened to many of their cultural and psychological points regardless of whether their empirical claims about the structure of the universe are, strictly speaking, true.

Take, for example, the divide about what to teach children regarding sex.  It’s easy to condemn the puritanical religious types (some of them my New England ancestors, as I’ll explain in greater detail in about one week when my Book Selection of the Month will be Victorian Norwich), those who want to fill the kids with taboos and ignorance and tales of hellfire.  On the other hand, I hope I’m not the only non-religious-fanatic who’s noticed that there really does seem to be some countervailing mania on the part of some educators out there — be they hippies, perverts, or just religion-bashers — to impose as much sex-info on kids as early as possible, despite most of us turning out just fine with a large dose of mystery on these topics until adolescence or so.

Take this story about efforts to acquaint grade-schoolers with the fine points of anal sex and the like.  Is this necessary?  Surely there’s a happy medium somewhere between that and nuns forcing people to take cold showers.  The kids will piece it together from movies eventually anyway.

The most generous interpretation of the push to teach the young everything immediately may just be that it’s a case of hyper-egalitarianism, treating all potentially useful info about everything under the sun equally, as if it’d be suspicious to suggest that genitalia be treated in a more circumspect fashion than, say, computer programming.  I’m sure many people keen on creating a gender-neutral culture would see that sort of egalitarianism as a natural corollary of their position.  I only hope society never becomes so gender-neutral that it ceases to produce songs — and excellent videos — like “Girl U Want” by Devo.

That song was used to good effect in Tank Girl, which reminds me that perhaps we’ll hear some interesting (and thoroughly gendered) reactions next year as Watchmen director Zack Snyder once more mines comic books, this time to create an homage not to Charlton Comics heroes (or zombies) but to crazy chicks: Sucker Punch.  Again, as something of a conservative, I don’t think the culture needs a wave of crazy-chick chic.  But the movie will probably be better than Tank Girl.  Someday, perhaps classes on film and gender (which I’m sure Brown is still teaching 24/7) will present compare-and-contrast screenings of Snyder’s films Sucker Punch and 300.  Will either truly be feminine, though?  And is 300 kinda gay?


Gerard said...

Perhaps, but it’s still a great movie. Not as great as the low-tech classic The 300 Spartans, but probably the only film I’ve seen starring Gerard Butler that is not complete dreck. Also, one of the few comic book adaptations that I enjoyed watching.

I tend to agree with you, re: the intensive campaign of sexualization aimed at American youth by leftist organizations such as GLSN and the like. It does strike me as being part of the whole leftist drive to impose egalitarianism across-the-board, including in our sexual proclivities. Not only are the intended aims of these folks misguided, but one of the unintended consequences of their efforts is a reduction of sex itself to a series of prosaic anatomical functions.

It reminds me of this documentary about the early kibbutz movement in Israel, which I saw on the Sundance Channel last month. I was watching it in astonishment, because each person who was a kibbutzim would recount how unbearable their experience and life was at the time. How they were forced to shed any trace of individuality, how everyone was forced to work even if he or she didn’t want to, and how they wanted to emulate socialist utopian experiments taking place in Marxist countries. Be part of the vanguard, as it were.

The most remarkable aspect of this is that the filmmakers seemed to be framing these horrible confessions in a positive light, almost as if surrendering your individuality and freedom of movement, choice, etc., is something that enobles the human spirit.

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re crazy? That’s what I felt after watching that-not because of my mild social anxiety, or hypochondria. I mean, I felt I had been birthed on some completely different planet than the director of this film, who seems to think that giving up your identity as an individual is a fair tradeoff for building this undefined sense of community.

Todd Seavey said...

My real fear is that I am the only rational person on the planet.

The others — more “normal” in some purely-demographic sense — are defined in large part by their fear (recognized by the existentialists) of their own freedom and thus the potential for chaos. Their solace is almost invariably found, then, in submersion in some group identity (whether as sinister as cult membership or as near-benign as sports team fanhood) or in the adulation of an order-creating ruler, whether earthly (government) or otherworldly (God). Rid humans of that fundamental fear of uncertainty and individuality and, finally, the whole idiotic game changes. But I’m not holding my breath.