SMOKE: Doin' It For The Kids
Originally published: 22 September 2004
Browsing through Canadian publication The Edmonton Sun - as one does - I came across an article about a clothing store in the town of St Catherine's that has residents up in arms about a t-shirt they are selling.
The store is carrying a t-shirt in its display window that has a picture of a hammer dripping with blood and the words "She was asking for it" underneath. The store is wholly owned and operated by women and the owner is perplexed at the uproar, saying that she finds the t-shirt pretty funny.
She added that she was getting excellent advertising from the protests, and therein probably lies the key.
I think that in the right context - a Tarantino movie, say - violence can be most appropriate and extremely funny, but there are three types of jokes that I've never found appealing: fat people jokes, fart jokes and jokes about hammering women to death. It's not a prudish nor moralistic point of view - I simply don't find it funny.
Kinda like Eddie Eksteen, you know?
I also don't think t-shirts like the Wifebeaters range and the one described above do a whole lot of good for the male perception of females - with enough jokes about beating your wife to death our society becomes infused with a sense of acceptance for such things.
I'm not for a moment suggesting that if you wear a t-shirt with a hammer dripping blood all men who see it will rush off and kill their wives - it's more about a subtle cultural acceptance of it.
The world is made up primarily of idiots and the last thing we need to be doing is encouraging them to continue being idiots.
But the bad taste t-shirt is not why we're here today, friends. Oh no.
In the article one of the crowd of 45 enraged residents was quoted as saying: "I find it extremely offensive. What is it teaching our kids? That it's OK? It's a big joke? They don't realise the ramifications."
And that just killed me. What on Earth have children got to do with it? Every time something faintly offensive to someone's sensibilities is discovered the ox wagons are drawn in to protect the children. Everything we do is tempered by what it will do to the children and I'm sick to death of it.
If anyone gets a sniff of fame - particularly in South Africa - they are instantly regarded as a role model, from sportsmen to reality TV contestants to musicians. The argument that they are role models stems from always having to be careful of what we say or do in front of kids and what I want to know is: when did kids get so much power?
The reality TV contestants are the most ridiculous - since when did some wet-eared little twatties who lucked onto a seedy voyeur show like Big Brother become role models for other kids?
Surely role models should firstly be excellent people who have proved their worth, and secondly should choose to be role models? Yet everyone who gets on TV is suddenly a role model, no matter what kind of asshole or immature brat they are.
Our insistence on censoring everything we do because of children means we are losing valuable characters to political correctness. You don't get John McEnroe's anymore. You get clean cut boy bands instead of hotel-trashing rockers. You get family values television and animated movies.
Perhaps I haven't looked into the eyes of my little miracle child and been entranced by the beauty and mystery and wonder that lies within, and maybe that's why I resent everyone always thinking of the children first.
But I reckon on a sinking ship it should be women first, men second, crew third and kids last - why should I give up my life for some kid who hasn't gone through anywhere near what I have? I've put my work in, I've done my time - I want the reward for having made it through childhood.
But noooooo - kids are the future, you see, and therefore all adults instantly become irrelevant and worthless. Even though a kid has done nothing to warrant being given life over someone who has spent decades working for it.
It's grossly unfair.
Protect the adults, is what I say. In the case of the t-shirt with the hammer - don't ban the shirt because kids might see it. Ban it because adults might see it. And as an adult teach your kid that hammering women to death is not cool nor funny nor honourable.
If you instil a decent belief system in them you won't have to worry. They will be able to look at a thousand pictures of dripping hammers, but if they have a belief system which dictates that abuse of women is for fucking animals - they will never be influenced by it.
We spend all our time protecting kids from our own failures as parents. Enough. Take some responsibility for your own child and they'll get the ideal world you want.
All Smoked Out,