"Hey, you know what Sunday night is?" my 11-year-old daughter shouted to me from the family room late last week. I knew she was spending one of her last carefree mornings of summer break fiddling around on-line. "Does 'Fred' have a new video out?" I ventured a guess. "My gosh Mom, that series hasn't been on in years," she admonished. "But the actor in it did just announce he was gay on You Tube."
I am clearly not up on what's going down with Internet stars under the age of 21. I am also clearly not up on what's going on with stars over the age of 21 either. Because according to my daughter the big event she was looking forward to on this past Sunday night was the 30th annual MTV's Video Music Awards.
The VMAs have been around for three decades? Wow. That means there are thousands of mothers and fathers running around the greater Madison area who have never known an entertainment world that didn't include the Moonman statue, a shocking Madonna/Britney Spears moment, or the opportunity for Lady Gaga to sport a caftan built for carnivores. This cohort of parents -- who have grown up in the age of music video relevancy -- have a generational name. They are called Millenials. And the VMAs, I always figured, were for them.
I am quite a few years younger than Madonna (who appeared on the award show's inaugural broadcast in 1984), but am probably a more typical example than the Material Girl of mothers born in the '50s or '60s. I am either a very young Baby Boomer or a very old Gen Xer. MTV didn't launch until I was already in high school. So if video killed the radio star, it did so well after my pop music coming of age. And up until last Sunday night, I'd never watched the Oscars of music videos live.
My daughter was born in 2002. "Total Request Live" went off the air when she was in still in kindergarten, so she's never known MTV to be the place to go for music videos. And to date (thankfully) she's shown no interest in watching "Teen Mom," "Catfish," or any of the other semi-disturbing reality shows that appear to make up the bulk of the network's current programming. So her palpable excitement for the MTV awards show kind of surprised me.
When asked though why she was so excited about watching it, my daughter replied, "There's a rumor that N'Sync may be getting back together. And I kind of like the oldies." We made plans to watch.
Fortunately I didn't need to end up censoring the Artist Formerly Known As Hannah Montana or any of Kevin Hart's crass but not-even-a-little-bit funny humor. Because my daughter, clearly underwhelmed (and confused) by the Lady Gaga opener, promptly fell asleep as soon as the show went to commercial break. She missed Taylor Swift's f-bomb and didn't get to see such lofty superlatives awarded as "Best Video with a Social Message" or the "Song of the Summer." With categories like that, I kind of expected some recognition for best use of a cat in a music video. Or at least a best foreign language video award tailor-made for PSY.
No, I guess you could say I wasn't particularly impressed. But I still couldn't bring myself to turn the TV off and ended up watching straight through the over-the-top (under the bridge?) Katy Perry finale.
As expected, when my daughter woke up Monday morning she asked first thing to see the much-hyped reunion and I showed her all 110 seconds of it online. "That was it?" she asked. "N'Sync didn't even sing a whole song," she said with a tone of bitter disappointment.
So I explained to her that sometimes things, like awards shows and boy band reunions, are just about creating buzz. They are about having something silly to distract us from much more serious world issues. And giving pop stars an award show to which they are allowed to wear jeans.
I told her that there were many people who enjoyed hyping the reunion of five cute singers they had adored in their youth. But many didn't want to spend too much time actually watching four of the same five guys, all likely pushing 40, perform.
The Millenials have probably known all along that the VMAs are more about gawking at the Miley-like train wrecks than spending a few minutes with the more "classic" models.
But the show has definitely turned off one 11-year-old member of Generation Z and her Gen X mom. I guess we'll never be a part of Generation MTV. And I can't help but wonder when a decade from now a Millennial mom sits down with her pre-teen daughter to watch the You Tube Video Awards how she will explain Beliebers or twerking during the inevitable Justin/Miley reunion duet.
Which will come right after the Fred lifetime achievement award.comments powered by Disqus
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.
Late last semester, as students were packing up their backpacks one final time before winter break, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann and assistant principal Lisa Jondle were co-authoring a note home to parents informing them of a widespread cheating scandal involving nearly 250 calculus students at the school.
Breathe in, breathe out. Have you ever been in the heat of a parenting moment with these words ringing through your head? Then you're on the right path toward mindful parenting.
The week between Christmas and New Year's is famous for all sorts of things. Malls are packed with folks exchanging those holiday sweaters that don't fit just right. It's the week those same folks pledge to never again eat another frosted sugar cookie or candy cane (hence the sweater issues). It's also the week the media saturates the public with dozens of "Best of Year" lists.
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.