Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A minus

As a child, I loved TV.

And naturally, that made any restrictions very frustrating.

My loving parents frequently restricted the amount of time I was allowed to spend watching TV, of course, but just as exasperating (depending on the day) was that, to my young self, they seemed to be forbidding so many of what were probably the best shows. Like:
  • Laverne and Shirley (sexist)
  • Diff'rent Strokes (my mother caught the Very Special Episode where Arnold meets a child molester)
  • Three's Company (also sexist)
  • Eight Is Enough (Frankly, I think this one was because my parents couldn't remember which was which of Three's Company and Eight Is Enough; better safe than sorry.)
  • I Love Lucy (also sexist, but a classic, so permitted but only occasionally, and only after a lot of discussion of what respectful relationships were and why Lucy and Ricky's was not one)
  • Anything that might give me nightmares (which was a lot of shows, including Scooby-Doo cartoons)
  • Any PG-13 movies that came out the first summer of PG-13 (when I was twelve)
  • Dukes of Hazzard (violent)
  • The A-Team (also violent)
So eye-rollingly frustrating. Everybody could watch those shows. And talk about them for days in school afterward.

And so tonight, 29 years after it first came out, I finally started watching The A-Team.

Less than three minutes into the first episode, I encountered the first instance of gratuitous sexual violence. Done with The A-Team.

Stupid parents.


Joe said...

Haha. You just reminded me of how my folks had a ban on MTV when it first appeared on cable.
Have a distinct memory of Mom walking in the room and flipping out one day while I was watching "She Blinded Me With Science."
I guess Thomas Dolby WAS an acquired taste.

Jennifer said...

Huh, clearly we grew up with different standards!
I have always looked at A-Team as fairly tame. No one is ever killed (cars blow up, flip over and crash...and two guys climb out and dust themselves off), and the good guys always win. How would we know the bad guys are bad if they don't do terrible things?

bzzzzgrrrl said...


Not knowing The A-Team well at all, but knowing my parents, I'd guess that the fact that no one is ever killed is part of the problem (as it was with Dukes of Hazzard). Violence without consequences is bad. And when the good guys are also violent, how DO you know who the good guys are? I was allowed to watch M*A*S*H, probably because people DID die and the good guys were the ones SAVING lives and complaining about war.

I make it sound like my folks were purists. They were not. The restrictions were also based on their own taste. So, if there were two equally violent, equally sexist shows, but they liked one of them, we'd probably be allowed to watch it. Especially if it was British (The Benny Hill Show, Monty Python's Flying Circus) or featured someone one of them had ever known or gone to school with (the soap opera Somerset).

There is a family joke that dates to a later era, when my sister and I were off the hook for those restrictions, that one night, she and I wanted to watch Scarecrow and Mrs. King* and he wanted to watch Hardcastle and McCormick,** and his argument was that Scarecrow and Mrs. King was "too unrealistic." That has earned him 25 years of mocking.

*Premise: A young divorced housewife teams up with a spy to fight international bad guys.

**Premise: An ex-convict in an awesome car teams up with the judge who sent him away to fight domestic bad guys.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

I just went back to watch that video, and failed to be scandalized, though there were a lot of very seductive knee shots.

Joe said...

Yeah, that was pretty tame compared with some of the other stuff. I think it was a general disdain for MTV, rather than Thomas Dolby specifically.
Funny, Mom never had a problem letting me watch Magnum P.I. with her. . .I guess a shirtless Tom Selleck trumped all those shootouts, car wrecks and various murder scenes.

Mike said...

So, had you been allowed to see the two movies that inspired the creation of PG-13? (When you were 11? Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins?

bzzzzgrrrl said...

I was allowed to see Gremlins (as was my two-years-younger sister). I believe we all saw it as a family, and loved it.

I was not allowed to see Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom because my parents were told it was too scary, partly because the family we knew who'd seen it included a kid who was five or six at the time and looked very much like the kid from that movie, so he had nightmares. I saw the first one, of course, but still haven't seen Temple of Doom.