Via Twitter I got a link to an old documentary thing that was done in 1981 and aired over a week on a local TV station out in LA called We Destroy the Family: Punks vs Parents.  As I was watching this I couldn’t help but recognize the bias of the media even back then.  One of my first thoughts while listening to some psychologist talk that that they had on there who “specialized in punks” was that the PMRC really shouldn’t have been any surprise.  If you ask me the PMRC was just the beginning of the strange forms of censorship that this group and that group call for.  Part of the issue the PMRC had was music with lyrics about sex, this coming from a group of people who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s hippy era when everything was about free love and drugs.   Maybe those of the PMRC had been against those things as well, we have never been told, but on the surface it seems ironic. My husband, who was half paying attention said something about how the documentary made punk look like something horrible.  Every generation has their subculture that the ones before it look at as the beginning of the end of the world as we know it, and not in a good a way.

Watching Punks vs Parents I took a look back at the 80’s.  As I always  tell my kids it was a really strange bright day-glo colored decade frosted with Aqua Net and there will never be anything like it again. For this I am grateful.  If I had to endure a round two I am sure my eyes would quit working all together.  In the 80’s the hippies from the 60’s and 70’s were raising families and these hippies became obsessed with providing their children something different than what they had.

Suddenly it was important to keep up with Jones’.  You became judged on how you dressed, what kind of car you drove, how large your house was and how much money you had.  People lived above their means by maxing out credit cards trying to have more stuff than their neighbors.  No one wanted to look poor by their community standards.  Both parents were in the work force in order to provide what they considered a lavish life for themselves and their children.  The thing was, they worked so much that they didn’t have time to enjoy all their stuff or spend time with their kids.  The term “latchkey kids” was coined to describe all the kids that went home after school to an empty house because their parents were working.    We were expected to entertain ourselves with after school specials on TV that told us not to do drugs or develop eating disorders and showed us what would happen to us if we did in the form of an hour long age appropriate drama.  In the 80’s kids ended up spending a lot of time alone.  Punks vs Parents tried to say that punk was a threat to the nuclear family and yet the nuclear family of the 80’s was somewhat dysfunctional compared to previous generations.

Kids seen their parents come to terms with the neighbors buying a new car and deciding that they needed to come up with the money to do the same thing because, heaven forbid, their car was three years old, and their social standing would come into question if they were the only ones on the block driving something older than 18 months old.  Kids were raised in a time that put things before people.  They were given the message, maybe not intentionally, that  making money for that new car was more important than making time for your family.

I know I spent a lot of time alone as a child and teen alone, as did a lot of my friends.  I couldn’t tell you what hours my step-father worked because he was home when I left for school but not there when I came home.  In fact, I don’t know what time he got home.  I just know that every night he and my mother would go deliver newspapers to over 500 customers.  My mother worked for my grandmother in her carpet store and stuffed envelopes on the weekend.  Between them, that was four streams of income and I really can’t tell anyone what we had to show for it.  My mother played bingo five nights a week with my step-fathers mom leaving me alone to my own devices even more and most of the time I had to fend for myself when it came to dinner.  Many times it was a bowl of cereal, a peanut butter sandwich or on a good day a hot dog at my step-grandmothers house.  There was rarely any real food there, not that it was like there was ever anyone around to cook anything.

We were expected to grow up and make something of ourselves which meant good paying jobs.  Our parents wanted us to be doctors and lawyers and engineers.  Art, music and writing were hobbies that were not to be entertained seriously.  Everyone claimed they were good parents even when they took little interest in their kids or what they were doing.   My teenage years exemplified that.  I do not have any memories of my parents attending any of my high school band performances.  After one high school football game performance I remember waiting around the school until just after midnight because someone “forgot” to come pick me up and no one was anywhere near a phone where I could call them.  My mother was off drinking and cheating on my step-dad and I have no idea what he was doing.

It is this over all collective attitude, in part, that explains the backlash that spawned punk.  In the UK it was spawned from political unrest.  Punk in America was our primal scream against consumerism, Reaganomics and the previous generation trying to make us buy into it all.  The angry loud music was embraced by those of us who had enough of being treated as an afterthought by our families and society.  Someone had to be around to inherit the wealth and we were supposed to be it.  We were sick of the commercialism that our parents bought into and it’s propaganda that made you a better person because you drove a certain kind of car.  The funny part of all this is, in my high school at least, it wasn’t the punks, those who were picked out as the trouble makers because of how we looked and the music we listened to, who were contributing to teen pregnancy statistics.  It was the “good kids”.

Look around at the mess that attitude as made of our world.  What we are living in now is the debris of what was created in the 80’s.  Those kids who grew up in the 80’s and bought into their parents attitude of possessions make the person are now the soccer moms at the grocery store who are too wrapped up in their own lives to watch out for others at the grocery store and run into people with their carts and can’t be bothered to say “excuse me”.  These are the people who are too busy talking on their cell phones to watch where they are driving and cause, or nearly cause, traffic accidents.  These are the people who over compensate for their parents not being there that they spend so much time running their kids from one activity to another that they don’t have time to wipe their own asses when they go to the bathroom.  They also try to live vicariously through their kids endeavors.  I swear if I hear one more person say something to the effect of, “I don’t know what to do.  Johnny’s baseball practice is at the same time as Amanda’s band practice and Sally’s drama rehearsal and I can’t be in all three places at once to watch all of it.  How do I pick?” I will scream.  I swear I will scream so loud I will be heard three states away.

I lost my train of thought somewhere along the line of having to answer the phone and go to the bathroom (not at the same time – wouldn’t want to drop the phone in the toilet – and posting on Twitter that the TSA is like date rape without the booze and roofies) so I am going to end this.  All I have to say is feel free to look at me weird with my piercings, tattoos and purple hair and feel free to hate me because I haven’t bought into all the pop culture indoctrination that makes you miserable.

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