Friday, December 2, 2011

Do It For the Kids!

Well what have we here in the supermarket magazine aisle within view and reach of tender young eyes and hands? Intellectually stimulating, inspiring and witty reading material like Cricket, Ranger Rick, any comics at all or even Mad? NO! Mind-numbing, base, lowest-common-denominator Justin Bieber pictorial magazines designed as training wheels for Seventeen and Cosmopolitan!

Yes, magazine publishers, supermarket stockers and parents, please work together to deaden our culture and set the next generation up for failure: every month, present these near-identical rags as the only visible reading options. Yes, teach young ladies to lust after some fungible, mop-topped pop star and beg their moms for makeup and trendy clothes so they can look like Selena Gomez.

Nowhere to be found???

This is not funny, and I can’t stand it. Bring your children over to the computer screen. I have a message for them.

Kids, Justin Bieber won’t be babyfaced and non-threatening forever, but that brain in your heads will stick with you for the rest of your life. Please don’t train it to passively absorb rotten pablum at such a young age. It may be difficult to go against the grain on this one, but remember: In the great scheme of things, it doesn’t matter what your peers think re: your taste in magazines and pop stars. Few, if any, of the classmates you have now will still be in your life ten years from now.

Maybe the other kids will think you’re strange because you don’t hang Justin Bieber clippings on the wall and kiss them on the lips, but who cares, seriously. Maybe some of your childhood and adolescence will be lonely and sad because you don’t model yourself after Selena Gomez or whoever is the teen girl star of the moment right now. Don’t worry about it; find a cool hobby to boost your confidence and keep you busy. Ride your bike, play some sports (yep) or go running to wear you out so you don’t stay up at night worrying about things. By establishing these habits, you will be setting yourself up for success and richness in later years.

Beware of the self-fulfilling prophecy, avoid screwing up your life with drugs, alcohol or Mountain Dew, stay humble and someday you will be cool in spite of -- nay, because of your lack of Justin Bieber posters. And the being humble part is important; It is unwise to make a big conceited show about how your interests are so much better and cooler and more obscure than everyone elses; be honest about your tastes, but never arrogant or pushy. Having said that, share what you enjoy if others seem interested; there’s nothing worse than the exclusive cool kid who suddenly gets angry and defensive when other people discover a band, TV show, etc. he likes. And if you really do like Justin Bieber, well, that’s fine, too. We all have our guilty pleasures. But keep an open mind to other things you might like; talents you envy in others that you would like to possess, and spend some time exploring them. Jealousy is nature's way of telling you to hone your talents, study or work out harder to achieve your goals. Many turn jealousy into statements such as, "Sure, she's a great clarinet player and always gets the band solos, but that doesn't matter because she's fat and ugly." Words and thoughts such as that will do nothing to enhance your life. You’re still young, and when you’re old like me and realize you could never be a great piano player because you can only be really great if you start out in childhood, you’ll look back and regret some of the wasted time gone by.

Think about some of the characters you’ve admired in comics, classic literature and movies. Are they materialistic, obsessed with celebrity gossip and desperate for the approval of others or do they have a little bit more depth, soul and integrity? Why not look to these characters as examples rather than create a smokescreen to appease mean classmates who pass judgment on you?

Surely there’s something better tucked away in the back of the magazine rack, there…let’s not let it die out like Nickelodeon Magazine and maybe there will be hope for you yet. Ah! Games and Highlights. What are they doing all the way in the back? Is this some sort of conspiracy?

Well, now they’re in the front, covering the awful trash. Merry Christmas, kids; I have given at least a few of you the gift of knowledge. Enjoy the anachronistic comic exploits of Goofus and Gallant and The Timbertoes. Exercise your minds and develop problem-solving skills with a Games Magazine puzzle or two.

Parents: why not add a few books, strategy games, puzzles, art supplies or musical instruments in with the DVDs this year? It would be great if kids actually had a fighting chance to accomplish something besides sitting in front of the MTV eating Ho-Hos with a glazed, deadened look in their eyes. You can buy very good books for under a dollar on Amazon, and if you register for a free library card you can check out all kinds of books for the kids at no charge. Usually the library has brand-new material in addition to the classics; they don’t simply rotate the same taped-up, crumbling books from the 1950s in perpetuity as some believe.

And do what I did with the magazine rack at your local book, drug or grocery store. What’s the worst that could happen, some store associate tells you not to? This has never happened to me and I’m sure very few would care even if they notice. Do it for the kids.

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