being a mom
Either We Were Cooler Than Our Kids Or Our Boring Kids Have Nothing To Rebel Against
Do you guys remember rock and roll? More specifically, do you remember being a kid or a teen and having a band or a style of music your parents absolutely hated? I don’t hate anything my kids listen to, and that leads me to believe that either life was much cooler when we were young, or that kids today are so boring and their parents are so progressive that there is nothing to rebel against. We need music today that kids can rebel with.
When I was little-little, KISS was the band to upset your parents with. They were loud and scary and flamboyant but they also had action figures and a set of Colorforms based on the band, so a lot of people in their forties were KISS fan as little kids. But my father hated them. He basically hated anything that wasn’t The Rolling Stones, except Bowie, Dylan, And The Faces. Being a six-year-old KISS fan and not understanding the sexual creepiness behind songs like “Christine Sixteen” or “I Was Made For Loving You” probably gave my mother a bit of concern, but that did not stop her from helping my younger sister dress as Peter Criss for Halloween. Kiss was a band to upset your parents with.
As a preteen, I scored a copy of Prince’s 1999 and I can distinctly remember listening to the cassette on some old-school sucky boom box under the blanket so my parents did not hear the lyrics. Prince was music to make you blush. I don’t know if my teenage son has ever heard a song that made him blush. Prince was dirrrrrrty and sexy and amazingly controversial and something my own parents didn’t approve of. Which was probably one of the reasons I adored him. As an adult lady person I’m able to understand how immensely talented he is (or was) but as a prepubescent teen I just thought he was sexy and he sang songs about sexy stuff. That was enough for my raging girl hormones.
As a teenager I had punk bands or goth bands or alternative bands, all things that could easily annoy my parents if played at the correct volume and had a hand in influencing my personal sense of style. Siouxsie Sioux had big black hair. I had big black hair and a nose ring. My younger sister based her entire identity as a young teen on a Social Distortion album cover. We worried and annoyed our parents with our thrift store boots and our black wardrobes and the safety pins fastening the holes in our jeans. We had The Sex Pistols. We had Iggy Pop. We had The Ramones. We also had 2 Live Crew and N.W.A.
I can distinctly remember being a teen and wondering if one day I would ever have my own children and if I did, what the future would be like. And now that it’s here, at least in regard to music, the future is pretty damn boring and derivative. How can my kids rebel against me if there is nothing worth rebelling with? I can’t think of any bands today that are as revolutionary or as interesting or as controversial as what I had growing up. At least the kids who were teens ten to fifteen years ago had the gleeful misogyny of Eminem or the gloom and doom serial killer ambience of Marilyn Manson to freak their parents out with. My kids got nothing.
Some music critics could possibly argue that Lady Gaga is this generation’s David Bowie but I don’t agree with that. Because Bowie did it before her, as did Freddy Mercury and Grace Jones and Alice Cooper. Plus, she sounds like Abba in a lot of her songs. How can a kid rebel against Abba? I can totally respect Gaga for her talent and charitable works and I have a hard time believing that she upsets a lot of parents. How can anyone who had a holiday special with Tony Bennett upset parents? To me there is nothing that controversial about Gaga. Sure, I won’t show my young daughter some of her music videos due to adult themes, but if my teen son suddenly became a raging Gaga fan I wouldn’t be upset by it.
I think rebellion is healthy in teenagers. I’m not talking about teens who rebel against their parents by drinking and driving or doing drugs or having unprotected sex. I mean good old fashioned healthy “my parents hate my music” rebellion. Our parents had it with our grandparents. We had it with our parents. This has been around ever since Elvis Presley performed Hound Dog on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956. Rebellion is good for teenagers because it helps them develop their own sense of identity and helps them explore their own tastes and preferences. How can my own son rebel against me if he is too busy stealing my Jay Z CDs?