Did you read Charette's comment about Wicked?

Here it is.

"I hope I won't be flogged for this...but despite the fabulous energy, music, acting, and perspective...I had a few issues with Wicked. We saw it in Chicago, but I assume the production is roughly the same. I just felt like it was a little slanted toward anti-establishment. Stephen Schwartz does this in a lot of his plays. Don't trust the people in charge seems to be a basic theme. And Wicked takes it one step further. Don't trust the people in charge, and when they wrong you, attack! Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed every minute. But as I thought about the themes, and as much as I love the way it makes you think about what is REALLY good and what is REALLY evil, I couldn't help thinking the perspective was slightly skewed."

While I didn't necessarily see this particular problem in Wicked, at least it didn't jump out at me, I see her point in a lot of other places, and it brought to home to me one of my personal pet peeves/prejudices.

Why are adults always the bad guys? Where/when in our society did we decide that only those with age shouldn't be trusted. I watch tween/teen movies and I see the rampant theme of "Do what is good for you, no matter what anyone else thinks". "If'n your daddy gives you some advice, promptly go and do the opposite". Are there really that many adults out there that give really horrible advice and squelch dreams?

I know these people exist, but it seems like those frustrating few make it much harder for the rest of us. No parent that I know personally right now is out to make the lives of the people around them horrible. Most people that I know have grown in wisdom as they aged. They give good advice and they tell good stories. Not all, most.

And yet our society treats adults as inferior to the obvious smarts of the young. On sitcoms the grandmother is a witch and the grandfather is lazy with only one topic on his mind. Daddy also only has one thing on his mind and mom is a sharp-witted shrew who barely seems to have time for her kids. I'm obviously generalizing here.

In movies the parents are not important. Often there is only one, or even none. It's the same in books. It bugs me that people think that in order to be successful you have to do it alone. Does no-one realize the value of working together.

I know that we all have things that we have to face "alone", but how many of you, even in those alone times, know that there are people around you who would help if they could. We are not a people who really do things without the aid and support of people around us. I feel like one of the weaknesses of our society is this tendency to push others away and have to be independent. Unhappiness comes from doing "it" alone. (More on happiness in a another post.)

As I watch these movies (rarely) and read these books (frequently) and watch these sitcoms (very rarely) I wonder what kind of toll this independent philosophy is taking on society? Is our propensity to not follow the law a subtle symptom of this? Those people in Washington--and believe me, I'm as jaded as anyone else here, if not more--do make laws that would make a dramatic difference if we obeyed them. There are times when they know better than the rest of us.

Can you think of any laws where if everyone in the USA were to start obeying them right this second the country would see a dramatic difference? I can think of one. What kind of an impact would this country see if all the people in this country stopped drinking and driving. . .now and forever? Can you even imagine it? But we think we are better than the law. We think that it can't possibly happen to us? "We didn't really have that much to drink". (Not me personally. This isn't an issue for me.) Decreased health care costs. Increased time for the police people to focus on other things. Decreased suffering and pain--physical, mental and emotional. Can you imagine?

It's staggering isn't it? One law.

However, we are taught from the get-go to think for ourselves and be independent. We have to do what is "good" for us--whatever the cost. We ignore the wisdom of those that know better. I'm pretty sure that those MADD mothers aren't doing their thing just to annoy us. I'm pretty sure that they know something about the costs of breaking this one law that I personally hope I never have to learn.

It's the same with people who are older than me. There is so much I can learn from those that are older than me.

I belong to a church that is run by a bunch of old men--to put it quite bluntly. There are a lot of people who think that's wrong. That my church would be better if they'd let some young blood and fresh ideas into the fray.

I disagree with that. Those old men (and a few old women--but the 15 with the most control are men) have a lot of life experience under their belt. They've seen the dangers and the pitfalls of life. They also have a lot of experience with the ways that so many of those heart aches could have been avoided.

I am content to learn from those with more age and experience than I.

I am content to not have to learn every lesson by myself.

I am content to put my trust in those old men because not all adults are idiots, and not all adults are out to get us, and a lot of them really are smarter than I am.

(For a shining example of a book series where the hero has good and supportive parents, check out The 13th Reality by James Dashner. Atticus (our hero) still has to go off alone, but his parents understand what he's doing and support him. This aspect alone endears the series to me.)
9 Responses
  1. Kimberly Says:

    Wow...love the perspective you've offered here. In fact....I'm suddenly rethinking my book.


  2. The whole thing with child and young adult heroes whilst the adults meander about in the background has been going on forever. I noticed it in cartoons when my oldest was a toddler. The teachers who have been teaching for a while will tell you that TV has ruined kids--they don't respect authority the way they used to. Kids in TV shows always have a snappy comeback and save the day when adults can't. OF COURSE it is having a major affect on our society. As for Wicked, I haven't seen it but I did have this same feeling about The Phantom of the Opera. Loved it to death, saw it twice in San Francisco, once with the incredible Davis Gaines who is well known for his awesome acting/singing skills (the Phantom can't really show facial expressions so it's important to be able to act with your voice)and once with, oh geez, that Italian guy whose boyfriend is Brian Boitano. His voice was technically pure and perfect but I preferred Davis. Anyway, my point is that the hero of the piece is someone who is actually evil--he embraces the dark and encourages Christine to do so, as well. He kills people, he has temper tantrums, etc etc etc. Yet, we are made to sympathize with him to such affect that he is one of my fave romantic heros of all time. It stares in the face of reason, does it not?

  3. Interesting points of view. I don't see it the same way though. If we're looking for the negative, that's what we're always going to find. I don't necessarily think that what is always being portrayed is "adults are stupid and dumb". I think that all teenagers go through a phase when that's how they feel and they think they "know it all." I think that is what is most often portrayed. As I thought about a lot of movies and sitcoms and books however, I feel that in the end, it usually is about togetherness, parents truly trying their best and loving their kids (and the kids realizing this in the end), the aged really holding the keys to sound knowledge, etc. I just may be watching and reading completely different media, but I really don't grasp the negative tone in this aspect of what I read and see. For the most part, I really think it emphasizes (sometimes in the end), the good and the positive. But teenagers will always strive for independence and take their personal journey of discovery, which I think is natural and good. In the end I think we all realize that we need others and want others to help us, and I generally feel that is what is portrayed.

  4. Brillig Says:

    I've absolutely noticed the same thing, and it's worried me. I hate the my kids are growing up in a world that tells them that I'm the bad guy. I'm not always going to be right, but gosh-dang-it, I'm going to be their number one fan and the person they can trust the most and I hate that the world around them is telling them otherwise!

    Great post, and suddenly i'm slightly more inclined to check out Dashner's stuff...

  5. charrette Says:

    Well, at least I made you think! :)
    Actually, my problem with it was that I could see the younger generation falling in love with this show and at the same time feeling like the "establishment" (be it education, or law, or especially church) has it all wrong. That idea is completely okay to explore, but dangerous to embrace.

  6. Kazzy Says:

    Great to meet you today. Charrette has said a lot of nice things about you to me.

    Another stereotype that has always bothered me in the child/adult relationship is found in just about every Disney movie. Bumbling fathers and either absent or mean mothers. Kind of convenient that the children always seem to need to "teach the adults a lesson".

    Great post. And I also like your layout. Take care.

  7. I love the perspective you took on this post. I think people who are older than us often have a lot of wisdom and hidden gems they can teach us.

    And why can't young people learn from older people and the other way around?! Seems like a two way street should be pretty doable.

  8. I usually think of myself as a perceptive person, but how I failed to make the connection that YOU are Eowyn makes me seriously doubt my previous opinion of myself.

    It was an utter delight to meet you!

  9. Meg Says:

    Hey! Found your blog through Write Stuff and I think this post is really interesting... but sadly, I do not agree.

    I don't think that Wicked is a good example of this. Here Elfie didn't 'fight back' per se, she just refused to become the Wizards minion therefore making her the "Wicked Witch".

    I think we do need to be careful with what we allow ourselves to believe just because someone else tells us to. There are many things that our government stands for that I do not agree with at all. Yes, I see the drunk driving aspect of it and I completely agree but there are so many other things that I don't agree on.

    And I don't necessarily agree that sitcoms and movies make the parents out to be the bad guys all the time. Sure there are a handful of them but growing up all of my favorite shows had the teenagers having wonderful relations with their parents. I was addicted to The O.C. and in that show the parents are 100 % a part of their teenagers lives. The teens always went to their parents with problems etc.

    Shows today like Hannah Montana and many other Disney Channel shows have the teens having wonderful relationships with their parents.

    Anyways, sorry about the long winded comment :) I still do think that you have an interesting point though and it is very well said! I will definitely be reading your blog from now on!