Pushing the Pop Culture

One thing I’ve been thinking (idly) about lately is that perhaps we push pop culture on our kids too early. I’m not talking about things like sex and violence – that’s a whole other topic – but I’m talking about showing things to kids that you love, that you’re excited to share, but they just aren’t mature enough to really follow what is going on.

I’m a huge, huge pop culture junkie and when I’m not blogging or working I’m probably watching movies, or TV shows, or reading books, or reading magazines about movies/TV/books, or talking to my friends online about OMG JENNIFER LAWRENCE SQUEE. I admit I was counting down the days until I could show my oldest Star Wars and I have tried, oh how I have tried, to get him to love Star Trek and The Princess Bride. IT WILL HAPPEN, DAMMIT.

But something interesting has happened a few times lately – while Little Miss Sunshine, age 8, has been watching something age-appropriate – the older two have LOVED IT. I know they enjoyed it when they watched it when they were 8. But now it’s like they really APPRECIATE what is happening on a whole new level. They GET the in-jokes. They fully understand all plot twists. It’s interesting to me.

And this applies for even younger stuff. My three-year-old nephew was visiting at Thanksgiving and introduced the girls to Paw Patrol, which is apparently very hot right now among the toddler crowd given the volume of Paw Patrol toys I see in all the newly-arrived Christmas catalogues and flyers. It’s an animated show about a team of puppies who, in 10 minute shorts, solve problems and do heroic acts to help kids. And the girls have been eating it up – they talk all the time now about Paw Patrol, which is their favourite, what’s their favourite episode, can they PLEASE PLEASE watch Paw Patrol if they do all their homework first. And although he’d probably die if he knew I was putting this on my blog – even the Captain will sit and laugh and enjoy it. He knows all the names of the puppies, y’all. They are INTO IT.

A few months back we were watching a Winnie the Pooh movie that the older two had seen a dozen times in their youth, but the Little Miss hadn’t seen, and she liked it fine, but the older two – BUSTING A GUT. It was the most I’d heard them laugh at a movie in ages. It was so cool.

So now the older two, because they are interested and curious and gently peer pressured, want to watch things like The Big Bang Theory and Survivor and Glee, and we let them, and we talk about them, and that’s good. But it’s also good to go back to the stuff that is “meant” for little kids and show them that good entertainment is ageless. I think it’s sweet and adorable that they still think In The Night Garden is totes awesome (and I guess a phase is coming soon in which “kid stuff” like that will be SO NOT COOL, MOM, so I better appreciate it now).

I read an article in the summer about how Steven Spielberg was super excited to share his movies with his grandson, and so finally got the kids’ parents’ permission to show him E.T. when he was three. Putting aside any potential scary stuff, I have to wonder: did the kid even understand what was happening? Did he get the subtleties of sibling interaction, of being an outsider, of how a boy and an alien can become linked in some way that’s beyond the typical daily life? I’m not saying he shouldn’t have shown him the movie, but I do hope he plans to show it to him again when he’s 10, and then maybe again when he’s 15, and then again when he’s 30 – so he can actually feel all the wonder and joy and fear and sadness. So he can come away with something learned, something gained.

So that it’s more than just pop culture education – it’s a true experience. Something to enjoy, to ponder, to remember.

5 thoughts on “Pushing the Pop Culture

  1. I have never been more into tv shows than I am now. Maybe because I’m home so much and can watch endless sitcoms or shows while doing all this constant cooking? So as much as I appreciate the younger one wanting to watch the morning cartoons or Wild Kratts or whatever while they’re eating their breakfast, there’s only so much SpongeBob I can take at the end of the day or after school. So by default, I let them watch some of the shows I watch – Big Bang Theroy is one of them, and (yikes) Modern Family which Sonja likes more than I do bec of Lilly, the little girl on the show.

    The thing is, they don’t often ask questions. But sometimes they do…Sheldon is quirky but they don’t get all the humour, but he is also so entertaining in ways that SpongeBob isn’t. And I don’t know if they get the whole gay couple raising an adopted daughter thing on MF….but at least, I am THERE to answer questions IF/when they come.

    Still, I get it, what you say. Watch the shows, the movies later, when they’re older, and see it from a whole new perspective. I think this is true even for us seasoned adults. The true classics, they never go out of style because of that element.


    1. Yes! I forgot to mention that when watching “older” shows with the bigger two, it’s actually a bit of a blessing that they don’t “get” everything. There’s a ton of sexual innuendos on both Big Bang and Glee and I’m happy to talk about them or explain them if asked, but sometimes at the end of the day I’m also happy to just let it fly over their heads and leave the tough talk for another time. I wonder if when they get older and re-watch it they will be amazed at how much they missed – and that I let them watch it!

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. Everyone seems to be in such a rush for their kids to grow up. Maturity comes from the passing of time and experience. Exposing kids to things well beyond them isn’t helping them to mature. It’s just exposing them to mature things – things they very likely can’t really grasp or process.

    Great post!

  3. Zhu

    This is such an interesting perspective, I actually read your article twice and thought about it for a while! I can remember “liking” movies or series because I thought it was cool to like them, even though I now realize I wasn’t really getting the jokes or the innuendos.

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