sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

April 20, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things

Filed under: parenting, politics, Soviet Union, the Holocaust — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:01 pm

We recently watched The Sound of Music with our kids, and, dear readers, I’d like to share our observations:

1. The songs, once they got into our head, seem to have permanently settled there, but mostly in a good way.  Even if Do Re Me gets a little annoying, I’m always able to chase it away with A Few of My Favorite Things;

2. Loved the film, but it’s strange, is it not, to march to the altar to a song that declares the bride “a problem”?

3. Loved the film, especially because it featured a lot of kids and the central story was that of a man and a woman meeting, falling in love and getting married, and their lives are better for that.  So quaint.  Contemporary Disney can’t get around princesses who are not ready, get entangled in relationships with trust fund babies or, worse yet, so obviously represent the frigid dead end of feminism.

4. Watching the movie I found it necessary to explain to my children, 7 and 5, about the Nazis.  I don’t think there was ever a time in my life when I had to be explained such a thing.  I just knew.  VE Day, or, in Russian parlance,  Victory Day, was a major national holiday, every family was touched by the War and the media was saturated with War-related materials.

My husband, born and raised in San Fernando Valley, doesn’t remember being explained about Nazis either.  He does remember playing WW2 with his brother, though.  I’m quite certain I played the War a few times as well, even though I was a girly girl — because it was happening on the playground.  I’ve never seen American kids today playing anything violent with a reference to historical fact.

When we talked about Nazis being “the bad guys” my 7-year-old daughter promptly found an analogy: “Or, like they litter”.  Years ago I posted about a Soviet science fiction story where villains litter.  We can find faults with the Soviet story, but it’s my children who are living the life so overprotected, that they are unable to even begin to articulate the nature of evil.  (We shelter them from good, for a good measure, too, see number 3).

I recall, years ago, reading an article in local Jewish paper about teaching kids about the Holocaust.  It recommended waiting until they were 8 to explain that something horrible happened to Jews in Europe.  Perhaps I’ve forgotten some of the detail.  Maybe the conversation didn’t have to be postponed until 8, maybe the experts thought that parents need to wait until 5, but somehow I suspect a generation ago the issue was handled differently.

Granted, I didn’t know about the Holocaust until I was a teenager when my parents taught me about it.  I thought Nazis invaded our country and burnt villages, and my family, having no problem with this narrative, simply added on to it later.  Soviets weren’t big on Jewish issues, albeit there is the frequently played song about Buchenwald performed by Muslim Magomaev, but its subtext was by no means obvious:

My daughter shared her excitement about The Sound of Music with a girlfriend her age.  She told her not to worry, the movie is not that scary, although it has Nazis in it.  “So you get to learn abut the nuns?” inquired her half-Israeli friend.  Each year, Israel commemorated Holocaust remembrance day.

5. DH further researched 60’s musicals and found the following review of My Fair Lady:

No one younger than 50 will remember My Fair Lady. When it came out on stage and in movies it was wonderful. But now it just seemed dated. Radical lesbians will hate the thing.

But we are only interested in what gay men have to say about it!

6. Were The Sound of Music a Soviet film, Captain Von Trapp would be joining the Austrian partisans. Or at least the Italian ones.  And it would be no family fare.  Soviet and Russian WW2 films do not require redemption, are quite excellent, but very very difficult to watch.

April 1, 2015

Beyond Religious Freedom

Filed under: politics, whatever — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:00 pm

Is it just me or is the discussion of recently passed religious freedom legislature in Indiana and Arkansas thoroughly unsatisfying?  As the the state laws was explained to me, it just doesn’t go far enough.  So, allegedly, it enables the Christian businessmen who object to gay marriage to refuse accommodating LGBTQ weddings.  Conservatives are all wound up because the law that purports to protect religious freedom is attacked by liberals, some of whom are bent on violence.  Or depriving conservatives of their livelihood anyways.

I find the scope of the laws in question to be ridiculously narrow.  Our national conversation should be about freedom in general, not just religious freedom.  I know, we can make a strong argument around religious freedom, but why stop there?  Why should any business owner be compelled to serve anyone at all?  Say, an atheist DJ who feels that marriage is an outdated institution and refuses to put records atop of turntables at weddings [except for the gay ones], should he* be compelled to perform at such events or should the bride and the groom cue in an ipad?  Or a dressmaker who opens business to design clothes for his five best friends, should he drive to meet a client out of town simply because they are darker in complexion?

The great irony of the gays versus religious freedom debate is that gays created some of the most exclusive, glamorous and successful subcultures in the United States.  Take the enduring allure of the disco-era Studio 54, a club notorious for denying entry to revelers in last season’s shoes or insufficiently luminous eyeshadow.  Or try to hang with sharp-tongued queens.

Line to Studio 54: No shortage of orgy fodder

And please, don’t try to explain away this behavior by past incidents of bullying because for one it encourages the current bullying of Middle America.  And it’s bully’s bullying, too.  The cliques of ostensibly grown up men and women, like that at Andy Warhol’s Factory, can teach your junior high queen bee a lesson or two.  No surprise there because hard drug use, BDSM, fame and money make superficiality a must in this subculture.  Individuals who composed it are deeply flawed.  As much as I admire Warhol as an artist, his personal flaws, starting with him being a rotten friend, are undeniable.

Pre-fame Madonna at Studio 54. Amazing — I can almost see her humanity in her eyes

Fascism is another thing.  Gays joke about fashion police and dress up in shiny uniforms for their S&M sessions.  Punks took it to another level with actually wearing swastikas.  But really, who is searching for meaning in all the wrong places?

Another thing to consider: leftists complain that corporations are immoral, but if a businessman shows his morality, he gets boycotted by… the leftists!

I’m using he as a generic third person personal.

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