Friday, November 09, 2007

The Dwarves Changed My Life

The talk in class yesterday regarding the seperation and misunderstanding that exists between the adult and youth worlds reminded me of the most coming-of-age argument my parents and I ever had. I think this class discussion helped me apply greater meaning to the argument rather than settling on the typical teen angst/my parents suck philosophy.

One weekend when I was 17, I was at a youth group retreat. My friend left The Dwarves "Blood, Guts, and Pussy" cd in my car, which I had never listened to. It was merely shown to me, then left in my car. My mother found this cd over the weekend and had a metaphorical heart attach. She decided to raid my music selection and confiscate all material she deemed inappropriate, went through all the lyrics she could find, researched them on the internet and prepared documents of how this music is making me a bad person.

I returned from my trip (a youth group retreat! the irony...) to my parents' accusations of how popular culture was destroying my character and integrity. It was those loud rock shows that I went to with my friends every weekend. It was my best friend who was getting me into this "vulgar" music, and it was Satan working through these music recordings to draw me away from good. In ceremonious fashion, my mom shattered many of my favorite albums over her knee and told me I was never to go to a show again. And I could only listen to Christian music.


My mom was assuming that I was a passive consumer, allowing every value represented in the music to be injected into me. I had no discernment, no moral control, no interpretation of the meaning of the texts. Even if she conceded that perhaps I would intrepret these youth culture atrocities a bit different, my interpretation was wrong.

This incident changed my life in that I realized, then argued, that my parents were wrong. By the age of 17, much of morals/beliefs/viewpoints have already been shaped or are in the process of being configured by my life experiences, not my parents threats. I told my parents that they could punish me all the wanted, restrict my access to the world, and shut me into my bedroom, but at the end of the day, confronting popular culture is inevitable and they must trust my discernment and judgement (that perhaps they instilled in me long ago!) to create meaning out of the world.

I think this exchange was a big step for both of us in understanding each other's world. I understand that to them, loud shows with lyrics about "getting down tonight" may seem like toxic to family values, but they also didn't know anything about the music or the context in which it was made. Regardless, because of this exchange, my parents had received a new understanding of myself and the culture that I was growing up in. They understood that their reaction wasn't the only acceptable reaction to my youth culture.

My mom even bought me a new copy of my favorite cd that she had smashed.

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