Saturday, December 05, 2009

To Go or Not to Go to the Jersey Boys That is the Question: In response to Betsy Hart’s December 5, 2009 Metro West Daily News editorial about her dilemma in taking her children to see The Jersey Boys because of its profanity I have some thoughts.

I absolutely want to see The Jersey Boys. The vulgarity of it, however, is the part of the cultural shift beginning in the late 60's that bothers me. Nothing is verboten and when nothing is verboten most EVERYTHING is permissible including not only a profanity of language but a violence of behavior. Things I would not have dreamed to have said to my parents are said by some of my acquaintances' children today with no hesitation. Worse they get away with it. It's the culture the adults say. What can you do? Well, if I had a child I know what I would do if disrespectful language were said to me. I have no children so I cannot fathom whether I would take mine to see The Jersey Boys or not. But I do believe, as the cultural raconteur Steve Allen once said, vulgarians are at our gate and have been for a long time.

I always thought if I had had children my home would be a vulgarity free zone. I thought, too, I would have introduced them to life by reading, reading and more reading. I would have showed them the great masters of classic literature, listened to classical music and made frequent trips to science and art museums. It is easy when one has no children to think of the perfect scenario. Unfortunately, it does not always work out the way one wants and at some point in time children, I suppose, must emerge from the domestic cocoon.

Yes, I have used profanity and yes I love some of the utterly necessary changes in culture of the late sixties which took place so that people could finally breathe free and not feel oppressed, suppressed and repressed. It is the dialogue between people, the illiteracy and ignorance of so many that to me is disheartening. One can hear public vulgarity used by even children to each other, who, in times past, never would have said such things in private much less in public. These relaxed attitudes of speech are reflected in how people dress or lack of it, modesty or lack of that, the high rate of divorce, and sexual promiscuity which allows for the higher transmission of disease, unwanted pregnancy, mothers who are children themselves and a generally unpleasant so often violent milieu. It takes a toll on all of us and even extends to the marketplace. On Wall Street anything and everything CERTAINLY was permitted which introduced a gilded age the excesses of which led to unparalleled greed resulting in the near catastrophic collapse of a global economy, and an economic system which became unhinged with all of its attendant social pathology.

The human animal needs structure, it needs a stable and loving home and most of all it need limits. Would I want to go back to the fifties when SO much was denied, and so many were unhappy and even suicidal but could not talk about it? No, absolutely not. However, I do wish there were some way to put that part of the liberated genie which has created such vulgarity, excessive greed, and an extremely angry divided country, back into the bottle. As an adult though, I still, hope to see The Jersey Boys.

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