Thursday, October 1, 2009
I think this post may explain a lot. Maybe a lot more to me than anyone else, but that's not a bad thing.

A little background: I was born in England and moved to the US when I was between 8 and 9 years old. I am the child of British parents (not American military or anything like that). I was very young when I moved, but it turns out it has a much greater impact than one might think.

Consider this...

Imagine not having the following reference points in your life:
  • Sesame Street
  • Mr. Roger's
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Brady Bunch
  • The Electric Company
  • Saturday morning cartoons
  • Sid and Marty Krofft
  • School House Rock
  • Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, GI Joe, Hot Wheels

Now instead, imagine you have these references:

There was some spillover:

  • Dukes of Hazzard
  • Dallas (I never really saw this, just the beginning as I was on my way to bed, but I do remember the "Who shot JR?" drama.)
  • Pink Panther
  • Tom and Jerry
  • Honk Kong Phooey
  • Top Cat
  • The Banana Splitz (with some British and some American cartoons)

Now imagine that everything you really knew about the US was encapsulated in these TV shows. Back then, the Brits really did feel that Americans were all Texans.

It really amazes me how much, even to this day, there is a disconnect between what I know and think and what American folk know and think, just because of this cultural mishmash. I cannot typically participate in conversations about US pop culture of this time which can be quite frustrating. Music, television, food (e.g. peanut butter and jelly....yuck!), clothes, school, my understanding of the news of the time (e.g. Not as much Vietnam as Falklan Islands. Rooting for the Brits during the Olympics.). Everything is different.

It even affects my parenting. For example, I never watched Sesame Street until I saw it with my kids and I really dislike it. It actually pains me to watch it. I just don't get all the hype. As a result, we hardly ever watch it which means my kids will suffer from a disconnect similar to mine unless I deliberately choose otherwise. Being culturally literate is so important, so I have to choose Sesame Street some times. But, interestingly enough, my kids don't have any interest in it either.

My favorite kids show for my children is Charlie and Lola because it speaks my language, literally. (Well, that and Tom and Jerry, of course.)

Anyway, this post wasn't really designed to go anywhere. Mostly just an observation and a trip through my BBC past. Just think about the impact your childhood cultural references have in your life and in how you parent. It is really amazing that it can be relevant even today.


Wendy Hawksley said...

I adore the British children's shows. I think they are heads and shoulders above American ones. I'm not sure why, but I feel that they are.

We love, love, love "Charlie and Lola" around here - the books and the show. And "Kipper the Dog"!

The shows I watched in my childhood are the American ones you mentioned and I wouldn't really want my son to see ANY of them... They just aren't as good.

Oh, except "Mary Poppins". I do love that movie.

TypeAmom said...

Same here, now just imagine that all of mine are also in a completely different language. I just got the kids "Peter's Dragon" and Annika really likes the songs, but the songs in my head are in German, so not quite the same.

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