February 18, 2010

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears-- Filtering the Media Madness

Part Two on Media Madness-- Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

'Ice-way eamcra'? My parents might whisper as we approached an ice-cream shop. Since we already knew Pig Latin, the secret was out. We were soon chanting, 'I scream. You scream. We all scream for Ice cream!'. 

'Eakspa aterla' ('speak later'), they might also say, if one thought their conversation was drifting into inappropriate territory.

I think that some, if not many, of the complexities and subtle nuances of English might well have come though attempts to shield young minds from unhealthy subjects. We filter or screen what might be harmful, ugly, harsh or easily misunderstood with allusions, puns, double-meanings, euphemisms, or personal coded speech.

Today, however, it seems less common to shoo kids away when there is 'adult talk'. It was once normal to hear someone say , 'Little pitchers have big ears.'-- meaning that their listening ability was full-sized, even if they had pint-sized bodies-- just before asking the young ones to skedaddle.
Perhaps the prevalence of– no, the dominance of-- television has slowly whittled away at our sense of what would have been unimaginable not long ago. I think this was best expressed by 'The Stranger'. (a widely known article you can easily find on-line).

In every media, and more and more in everyday conversations-- public or private-- very adult subjects and harsh, impolite attitudes flow freely, regardless of who are present. Children often overhear-- in restaurants and other public places-- people's racial, political, sexual and economic opinions-- loud and unfiltered. 

Once at a restaurant in Texas, next to several small children, a group of four well-dressed women (I can't say ladies) spoke loud and long about how they were planning to collectively 'rip-off' their husband in their divorces. At other times I've heard children, in their presence, referred to as 'accidents'.
No, they, I, we -- can't stick our heads in a collective hole and ignore reality. Yes, the world is changing. However I don't have to passively accept anything and everything...

Most of my life I have lived on the fringe of, or sometimes totally outside of, popular American culture. I didn't plan it, it was just the natural result of often living outside of the USA since I was in my early 20s. Even when I lived in the States, I was either busy raising kids, preparing to leave again, or mildly alienated-- or should I say culture-shocked?

[next... Culturally shocked by media madness.]

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