Good Taste: For Kids
Determining our children’s tastes often comes down to that classic old adage: nature vs. nurture; do our children become products of the way they were raised or are they bound on some track naturally to fall into whatever pattern fits their particular genetic coding? It’s likely some mixture of both, with the nurturing portion likely causing children to actually rebel against their parents’ taste, choosing the newest, youngest, most shocking thing available, to their parents’ horror.
As someone who always tries to keep at the forefront of the new and progressive, not necessarily cool, but what will be considered in an objective sense (as much as that is possible) good, I feel as if I have some sort of advantage in keeping up with the pop culture playground my kids will occupy. I’m not someone who will forever hail the music of my high school days as being the best–for me this was mostly Christian hardcore and emo bands–and I won’t get stuck on the best albums of the last few years—Kendrick, Sufjan, Vampire Weekend, etc… Those albums will always be important, both to me and to culture at large, but they won’t form an eclipse over what’s new, at least not entirely.
But even with such progressive taste, as I obviously have, my kid is bound to reject what I think is good. Whether that’s rejecting the Studio Gibhli movies I put in front of him for the latest iteration of The Emoji Movie or dismissing the punk and hip-hop I think is cool and counter-cultural for whatever sort of weird spacey electronica we were promised would exist in the future. He’s bound to roll his eyes at whatever I think is interesting, it’s guaranteed.
Yet I’m someone who obsesses over this stuff, I have calendars reminding me of what’s new and what’s available so I can make sure that I’m up to date on what I want to be. This is a large part of me and something I can only hope catches on, however small or large, in my children.
That being the case, I thought it’d be fun to document my child’s tastes, particularly as I show them those things that I enjoy (that are age appropriate of course) to see what they react to, what interests them, and just how much I can manipulate them into enjoying eclectic art. This will be a series, updated as often as there’s something worth reporting (which, as I understand, will be little at first and more as he grows), a way of capturing a child’s growth, as well as mine as a parent as I try to come to terms with parenthood in the best way I know how (through pop culture).
This will also be a place to explore his fascinations. I have a strong desire for my child to be a little cinephile running around annoying other kids at his pretentious ideas about movies (New Yorker film critic Richard Brody recently wrote that his daughter used to watch and love Jacques Tati’s Playtime, that’s a #parentgoal if I’ve ever heard one), yet I also, obviously, care about the well being of my child and shaping them personally is more important than shaping their film tastes.
Most experts state that kids shouldn’t watch TV (screen time!) for the first two years of their life. As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time around screens this has proven difficult and even at 4 months old his gaze drifts toward the basketball game or movie we have on the screen. The ultimate goal is to raise a well-rounded child, one who is curious about the world, obsessive of particular fascinations, and draws upon empathy as his ultimate way of acting.
A holistic health is more than movies (unfortunately), so this will involve exploring the physical world, going to museums, partaking in the events of other cultures, teaching the basics of how we treat people, along with movies, music, and books. This will also be a place to express my sarcastic and cynical views of the strange modern parenting world, so watch out.
In Stranger Things 2, Dustin rushes out of the library having overdrawn his book limit, and yells “I’m on a curiosity voyage” as his excuse for stealing the books. This is the desire I ultimately have in this great science experiment called parenting, how can we fill our kids with an all-occupying wonder, one that causes them to explore every fiber of the world, loving it and the people in it? This is my documentation of that.