Death of the Underdog…
(originally posted 8/29/12)
I grew up on movies like The Sound of Music, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Wizard of Oz, Miracle on 34th Street and Grease. My TV shows consisted of The Little Rascals, Mr. Ed, Good Times, Adam’s Family, Silver Spoons, I Dream of Jeanie, All in the Family, The Jefferson’s, Punky Brewster, Family Ties, I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Muensters, Different Strokes and the Cosby Show. REAL TV in an era where parents were just discovering the art of television as a babysitter.
I grew up Climbing Trees, Riding Bikes, making Snow Angel’s, and had scabby knees. Playing Double Dutch, Hop Scotch, Hide and Seek, Red Light Green Light and Freeze Tag. In an era when children could talk to their neighbors, go into their houses… and return home in time for dinner untouched… and safe.
Every morning before school my mom would hand me two things, my lunchbox and my coffee, (heavy on the milk and sugar). We sat down together for breakfast and dinner as a family every morning, every night. In an era when children could walk a few blocks to school alone… and return home in the afternoon unhurt and ready to play.
I made mud pies, camped under a sheet in my bedroom, played games like Uno, Connect Four and Operation. I had a Cabbage Patch Kid, a Barbie collection, a stack of coloring books, and wore candy jewelry. I used to wake with the sun on Saturday mornings for cartoons. Cartoons on EVERY channel! ALL DAY… in a time when TV Stations competed for parental approval and the love… of children. Do you remember Kids Incorporated… and After School Specials? I left my house in the early afternoon and played outside with my mom’s voice ringing through my head, ”Be home before the sun goes down.”
I was a Latchkey Kid… Thunder Cats, Heathcliff, Woody Wood Pecker, Scooby Doo, The Jetson’s, Garfield, Josie and the Pussy Cats, Goldie Gold, Richie Rich, Voltron, Transformers, The Snorks, Popeye, CARE BEARS! Spiderman and His Amazing Friends (Fire Star…. Mmmnnnn…) The SMURFS! Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Amelia Bedilia, ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN! Do you remember Encyclopedia Brown?!!!
Today I live in an era where it’s hit or miss when you turn on the TV. Shows like the ‘Secret Life of an American Teenager’ are being watched by little girls learning how to be promiscuous and compare sexual partners. People are getting naked now at 7 PM, on Reality TV… pretty much right after the news and shows like Jersey Shore glorify low self esteem and bad behavior. In a time when a child can see you reading a book and ask in amazement…”you’re reading… for FUN?!” Come on people… really? When did we start living for Shock Value and stop caring about the MESSAGE?
I had a truly awesome childhood. Family Value’s… FRIENDSHIP… love of self… respect for others… and the Encouragement… of IMAGINATION! If it all starts at home… what are we giving our children now? I grew up in a time when telling a story mattered, when entertainment was less important or impressive than the LESSON or the MORAL of the story.
I was taught by my Television Baby Sitter and my neighborhood what it was to CHEER for an underdog…
I was taught by family and circumstance what it felt like to BE an underdog…
What the f*ck happened?