I have been reliving my childhood through netflix on-demand. It seems as though all of the movies that I loved when I was a kid are available for me to pull up at any hour of the day and watch with my children (with the notable exception of Newsies). I have been doing this for a couple of months now, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. There are just too many cheesy children’s movies from the 80’s and early 90’s.
Today we watched 3 Ninjas. It is a classic, at least in the sense that it touched off quite the firestorm of chanting about a friend of mine who liked to be call “Rocky” and a girl in our class named “Emily”. (If you haven’t seen the movie… suffice it to say that one is said to love the other, over and over again in a way that only children’s movies can do). It is also a movie in which both children and adults liberally use the phrase, “shut up.” It is not one that we encourage with our children so we had to have a few conversation about why the children were being mean and not using good manners. I was surprised at how many times it came up, though, mostly because I almost never hear it during the course of my day.
Watching the movie made me think about why it is that I don’t use it and why I am so adverse to its use in my household.
I think it really stems from the fact that I don’t like to be silenced. It comes from my unwillingness to allow defacto authority into the settings around me. And that is what Shut Up is all about, establishing authority simply by calling on those words.
Yet, these boys were able to say it to one another (and I said it when I was their age) so easily. They said it without the hint that they would actually shut up one of their brothers. They said it because it was the thing to say. The insult du jour. They said it because other insults were off limits. But, we don’t have those PG limitations.
We can fling the kinds of specific insults that only come with age and maturity. We can attack idiologies and products, figureheads and policies. In fact, we have replaced Shut Up with blog posts and tweets that disallow the importance of entire political figures, world events or fanboydom.
I believe that the crumudgeon in any organization uses his or her equivalent of Shut Up in order to keep the status quo. The adult versions of Shut Up are much more detrimental because they shut out possibilities rather than simply causing silence or frustration. In a lot of ways, I wish that we would recognize and call people out on their use of adult Shut Up behaviors the way that I call out my kids on their use of those words.
I would love to have the same conversations with adults about appropriate behavior when they don’t like what someone else is doing. I would love to create a space for us to talk out our reservations for going forward, instead of simply creating spaces and ways to say no.
So, here is what I believe are the biggest Shut Up actions I see from adults that I would like to have serious conversations about:
To name a few. So, while I am not recommending that everyone go out and watch 3 ninjas, it did provide me wit the ability to have important conversations with my kids, and a blog post.