Sunday, March 15, 2009

Apparently, I am not THAT old

Published March 15, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I mention from time to time my work in the world of teenagers. For 40 hours every week, I’m immersed in hormones, tears, cliques, and drama queens. I don’t mind working with teenage girls for a living. Actually, I enjoy it immensely. Despite the bouts of hormonal drama, these are girls developing their budding identities and trying on newfound maturity. That more than makes up for the other stuff.

There is a decided downside, however, to being surrounded by teen culture. If you work with teens, you work around teen music. Folks, it isn’t pretty. As much as I try to keep an open mind about the stuff kids today like to listen to, my disgust must come screaming off my face. I tend to get reactions like, “You really hate this song, don’t you, Sarah?” I don’t tell them how stupid I think the music is. Sadly, I don’t think I have to.

I know adults had strong feelings about the music I listened to when I was a teen. I just remember the problem was that our music was too loud or too explicit. I can’t recall ever hearing, “I’m sorry. We don’t want you to listen to that in the house because it’s just really, really dumb.” Maybe I’m not remembering correctly. I just don’t recall the music of my teen-hood being so unabashedly ignorant. (The fact that I can use words like unabashedly is proof, right?)

A few cases in point:

Taylor Swift has a song out called “Love Story.” It’s a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in which all the events are mixed up and the double suicide is scrapped for a happily ever after ending. While I’m not okay with revisionist Shakespeare in the least, it pales in comparison to the complete idiocy of the following line. “You were Romeo. I was a scarlet letter.” Really? You were a symbol of shame in Puritan New England? I would tell her Nathaniel Hawthorne is rolling in his grave if I didn’t think she’d respond with, “Is he a singer?” I give this song points for trying to say something lofty and literate. Then I take them away for failing miserably.

Britney Spears has a new song out called “Circus.” I know Britney has had it rough, what with the drug addiction and the mental hospital and the baldness. She’s been in full image rehabilitation mode for months now. I think that’s why I’m so befuddled that she would release a song in which she says she’s like a circus without even the least sense of irony. Am I the only one adding “freak” each time I hear the words, “just like a circus?” The fact that lyrics like, “Everybody let go, we can make a dance floor just like a circus,” make people wonder what universe contains circus dance floors is just the icing on the Britney cake of brain numbing stupidity.

Of course, neither of those songs hold a candle to Lil’ Wayne’s “Phone Home.” This “song” has “words” and “lyrics” and not a one of them makes any sense. Like a mesmerized motorist unable to look away from a train wreck, I keep listening to this song to find some sense of meaning. Lil’ Wayne’s an alien from the planet Weezy and hip hop’s his supermarket like he bought it from Target? Huh? “I never had lice and I never had fear/I rap like that and died and gone to Heaven I swear/And here I’m a bear/Like black and white hair.” I would add more punctuation, but I haven’t a clue where to put it.

Obviously, these three songs don’t represent every song teens are listening to today. They just represent songs that are so popular MOST teens are listening to them. Having a child only one year away from teendom tells me my own kids will soon be listening to this music too. I’ve filled my house with classic literature and take my kids to symphony concerts in the desperate hope that I can balance things out.

Maybe if I tell them Mozart was from the planet Weezy…