Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Awkward Media Experience

There's a certain phenomenon that I think everyone has experienced, but no one ever really talks about: The phenomenon of experiencing the wrong media with the wrong person. This mismatch and its psychological consequences can be profound.

For example, several years ago, I made the mistake of attending a matinee of Brokeback Mountain in the theater with several family members, including my father-in-law and mother-in-law. It was right about the time that Heath Ledger told Jake Gyllenhaal, "I wish I knew how to quit you," that I knew it was time for me to quit going to movies uninformed, sight unseen, and with whomever happened to be around.

There's something uniquely awkward about watching sex scenes in movies or listening to racy songs on the radio with the wrong generation. As another example, a song called "Habits" has been on the radio lately. The song is basically some woman singing about eating Twinkies in a bathtub; binge drinking; vomiting; getting high; and watching live sex at a nightclub. I probably don't need to explain the volume and nature of questions that this song has provoked from my children.

So why have I not learned my lesson? Why, to this day, do I do things like watch The Crying Game with my dad and let my kids (albeit inadvertently) listen to songs about watching live sex and vomiting in a bathtub?

There's only one possible explanation, and it's the same as the explanation for all of my many other flaws: laziness, indifference, and a fundamental disavowal of censorship. That said, I never--and I mean never--will watch Brokeback Mountain with my in-laws again.

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