Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Children Of The Corn

"I'm eating all your babies!!!!"

My daughter hysterically laughed that at me yesterday whilst eating a cheese stick. She has as point I suppose. It certainly makes a total mockery of my ridiculing of Thomas the Tank Engine. It has bothered a little too much because I have refused to give one to my son this morning.

So we all went to her school party yesterday. It was nice. My daughter loved having us all there. She had made a turkey-feather crown and a Thankful Plate the day before to show us all. On the Thankful Plate she had told her teacher to write what she was most thankful for and she picked her brother - which strikes me as the sort of thing that makes mothers cry. While we were there she and her grandparents made a turkey craft out of cut-outs and paper plates. Pretty cute. After the craft we were all directed to eat from the table of everyone's favorite Thanksgiving foods. At least that was the point - all the kids had to get their parents or grandparents to bring something like that. After getting a plate of food to eat my daughter and son noshed down on some sweetcorn, a slice of cake, a mini blueberry pie, some popcorn chicken and actual toffee popcorn. Not to worry - there was iced tea and Kool Aid to wash it down with. That is one seriously odd Thanksgiving menu.

Then all the kids sang a bunch of cutesy Thanksgiving sons. I don't claim to be The World's Most Awesome parent (that's for other people to say) but my thoughts during this were suddenly thrust into how I feel about American network TV and their Olympic coverage. I remember the very first time I was present in the US for the Olympics. I lived in western NY state right up near the Canadian border. Therefore I could actuall get coverage on NBC, a Canadian station and, for some reason, BBC coverage via Canadian TV. I immediately noticed that the differences were hilarious. For example during the 200 meters the US coverage was a tight-close shot of the only American in the heat. There was absolutely no context to how well this guy was doing because the camera didn't pan out at all to see anyone else running. He could have been running all by himself for all I know. All the stories on NBC too were saturated with stories of hope and triumph a la American Idol. They'd always pretext each event with film of an American athlete cooking in her house or walking the dog and talking about how when they were six their father crashed his car and lost the use of his left arm. I mean it didn't ruin his life - clearly he was doing very well for himself based upon the MASSIVE log-cabin mansion and 90 acres he had in Boulder, CO. But they'd batter you with that narrative. Best of all was my astonishment at one interview when Bob Costas asked a track athlete what went wrong when they finished third in the finals. Third! In the whole freaking World!

In direct opposite was the UK BBC coverage - usually the channel that would linger on the narratives about athletes from Liberia who had only learned to swim two weeks ago so God damn it we all should cheer the underdog to defeat the clearly arrogant cheating Americans/Australians. Or openly cheering on the English athlete trying to qualify in a very long distance race only to do a 180 and point out that they suck when they don't qualify. The Canadian coverage was the funniest though based solely on a five minute angry whine from a journalist after a swimming race wherein they moaned about how none of the athletes will talk to Canadian TV.

Anyhoo - that came to mind when the teacher asked all the parents to move back and allow everyone to watch the singing performance and take photos. Two parents flatly refused to move and held their massive LCD screens up to their own perfect child. You could see from the back of the room where I was sat that they had zoomed in to only focus on their own child. No context. No performance at all. Just their own off-key awkward child apparently singing in a big group that will never be seen.

One other cultural thing I was somewhat glad to miss was the recital of The Pledge of Allegiance. Now I love some of the small gestures of nationalism and love of one's country in the US. But that's when it's done by adults who know what they feel and mean. But there's still something a bit odd about watching a small room of kids being told to stand up, put their hands on their hearts and clumsily recite a Pledge that they cannot understand the words of, let alone the concepts. It seems very Children Of The Corn to me. Which coincidentally is how the painting of the very same thing looks that's hanging on the wall.


That is beyond disturbing.

Right - I have to figure out a decent creamed spinach recipe and then teach my son to dance to Daft Punk.

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