These days, parents have it easy. Stop laughing. I just mean we have it easy when it comes to introducing our kids to our favorite shows and movies.
I don’t have a lot to pass down to my son. There’s my sense of humor, my inexplicable collection of Garfield books (the same seven jokes reprinted over and over for 40 years = PRICELESS), and a complete and utter inability to build or fix things.
But I do have opinions, and many of them center around pop culture: Superman is better than Batman; Die Hard is the best action movie ever made; “The Wire” is required watching; Han shot first; etc., etc.
You better believe I’ll be passing those down.
The “pop culture pass down” is one of the joys of having kids. And it’s easier today than ever before.
When I was growing up and my parents wanted me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark, they had to wait for the theatrical re-release. After college, when I wanted to show my roommate “Twin Peaks”, I had to wait for the DVDs to come out (and at first they didn’t even include the pilot).
In 2015, just about everything is online. Even Star Wars is now available for download!
A few months back, we finally watched the first one. Two weeks ago, I showed Detective Munch The Empire Strikes Back, which he promptly said was his favorite movie and immediately wanted to watch again. (I told him we had to wait a little while so we could get married first because SWOON!)
As a huge Superman fan, I’ve made sure he’s seen the first two Christopher Reeve movies – the second of which is an all-time favorite of mine – and we watched Sam Raimi’s original Spider-man. My wife made us all watch The Goonies, not that it took much arm-twisting to get me to agree, which he loved (we occasionally hear a loud “HEY YOU GUYS!” from the other room), but when it comes to live-action movies, that’s about it.
Sadly, it’s gonna be a while before he gets to stuff like The Karate Kid and Raiders, and even longer before Red Dawn and Die Hard and Aliens, all movies I grew up loving but that are either too “intense” or a too sophisticated to hold his attention. The last thing I want to do is turn him off of something by trying it too early! But it’s not easy to hold off when you can start them with the push of a button.
Luckily, there are plenty of cartoons to hold us over, and most of them are streaming too. Like “Scooby-Doo”!
I was unable to find the original cartoons online anywhere (boo!), but Netflix has the new “Mystery Incorporated” version, which is fairly self-aware (they always put a knowing twist on the signature “meddling kids!” line), full of recognizable voices (like Lewis Black and Patrick Warburton), and littered with the kind of technology that firmly plants it in 21st century (as opposed to cameos from the Harlem Globetrotters and Burt Ward that firmly planted the old one in the 70s). I’ve always been more into “fantasy” than “sci-fi”, so I like seeing my son get an introduction to ghosts and monsters, especially when they are couched in goofy comedy and always revealed to be total bullshit. It’s annoying that my son keeps calling me “Mr. E.” but at least it’s engaging his imagination!
I’ve also shown him clips from “Superfriends” – sadly, I could only find short bits on YouTube – and full episodes of “Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends,” both of which helped me to fall in love with superheroes without ever being a comic book reader. I love that I’m able to flip on the TV and introduce my son to the pop culture that influenced my childhood.
As the years go on, not only will he grow into more of the stuff I loved, there will continue to be more made available to him (maybe he’ll even get into “My Little Pony”). I just hope I can squeeze in more of my old favorites – “Friday Night Lights” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are prime candidates when he enters adolescence – before he starts watching whatever new stuff he’s going to be into.
I definitely can’t wait until he’s old enough to really “get” The Simpsons, if only so he’ll understand why I keep yelling “don’t you hate pants?” whenever he refuses to get dressed in the morning.
What shows and movies are you looking forward to showing your kids?