Monday, 14 July 2014

Of Shaun the Sheep, the sad death of a Ramone and how can a parent win?

Kevin Kline (front, in suit), is pronoid, believing everyone likes him.
A bit of housekeeping first up, some weeks ago I wrote a post about self-esteem asking for
opinions on where it comes from, and where it goes.
Since then I've had a few conversations about that topic and everyone agrees that self-esteem comes originally from your parents when young.
And that certainly fits with my understanding of it.
Thus we can see why a child who was put for adoption, for whatever reason, starts out in life a million miles behind in the self esteem stakes, feeling that they are so unworthy, that even their own parents don't want them.
So if it's up to the parents to create self-esteem, how does the caring parent do it?
Well again we're in the realm of handing out parenting advice here, and that is something I shy away from like a startled horse.
However, the parents I did speak to all agreed in the end that the only thing you can do is be consistent.
Seems kind of oversimplistic, yet the alternative, do this, do that, so the other, is a rapidly descending spiral of chaos.
It seems that kids really benefit from stability, not just their physical surroundings, but in their parents behaviour.
Having said that, there was no one more consistent than my parents, consistently, predictably awful.
That seems like the worst kind of paradox, but I think you get the point.
Be consistent, as far as possible, in a gentle, stable way.
On the other side of the debate, Joanne, my much-valued, hula-dancing client from Possum Creek, made a very good point on this argument.
She emailed me about the topic and said:

"how different things are these days, with parents so paranoid about their kids not having good self-esteem, that they praise them excessively for everything  (i.e. putting one foot in front of another). 
One wonders whether this will produce a generation of narcissists. 
Somewhere between your disgraceful parents and today's over indulgent ones lies the balance I guess."

Which I think is a very good point - if you "over-esteem" your kids, then you produce a spoilt brat, and that's not good either
So how do you know if you've got the right amount of self-esteem?
God only knows.
This "over-esteem" issue was probably best put by the team who brought us A Fish Called Wanda, and it's sort of sequel, Fierce Creatures.
In Fierce Creatures Kevin Kline plays an obnoxious executive who is tasked with making a zoo profitable, at any cost.
Thus he begins making the keepers dress as they animals they tend, as well as putting sponsorship banners in the animals cages, and even on the animals themselves.  
At one point, an exasperated Jamie Lee Curtis, who plays the female lead, says to him, "You're pronoid, you believe that despite all the evidence to the contrary, people like you."
Pronoid, of course, being the opposite to paranoid.
Now this is a fictional movie of course, but what is interesting about that (to me) is that Kevin Kline's father in the movie, is based on Rupert Murdoch - surely a contender for one the worst men in history.
Kevin's father, "Rod Almighty", as he is nicknamed, owns a giant global media company (sound familiar?) and is as bad as a parent can get, ignoring his son, never showing up for Kevin's birthdays, yelling at him for being a weakling, the lot.
So why does Kevin have pronoia? when clearly his parent did nothing to help him have any self-esteem.
It is a mystery really, seems he gained his father's arrogance, but got no good qualities from his father, or indeed anyone.
Now I hesitate to bring in my own example here, but it's pertinent.
My life feel into two halves, the arrogant bit, and the opposite, the hopelessly depressed, alcoholic bit.
Until my marriage broke up, at age 26, I was obnoxiously arrogant.
I was as pronoid as Kevin in the movie.
It seems that like Kevin, all I got from my parents was the idea that we Barkers were better than everyone else, and therefore I used to lord it over my peer group, like I was the Prince of Bathurst, just waiting for my father and two older brothers to pass on, and I would be King of all I surveyed.
The paradox seems to me to be that one can only be arrogant if you have so much self-esteem that it boils over into pronoid arrogance.
Yet as you know, my parents spent their whole lives beating and screaming any semblance of worthiness out of my brothers and I.
Why then did I go out into the world of my childhood thinking everyone liked me?
I honestly do not know, and it highlights the almost impossible nature of figuring out the human brain.
So I think that this seems to me to show why the only thing a parent can do is be gently consistent.
I know this must be hard in a way that I, as a non-parent can never understand, but it seems the only way to proceed.
When one of your children puts a sandwich in the VCR, when you find a melted plastic doll in the microwave, when you notice a scratch on the car duco put there by an errant child on their bike, even after you have told them a hundred times not to ride their bikes near the car, all of these things try a parent's patience beyond belief.
Yet if in these teeth-gritting times consistently can be maintained, then the child will benefit in the long run.
So if this is preaching, I'm sorry for that, what I'd like to think is that all the suffering of children like me with bad childhoods can be useful, when now described, for the human race to learn from its mistakes, and give modern children a better start.

Death of the last original Ramone

Elsewhere in the news, I noticed that the last of the original Ramones died last week.
A sad time for those who came through the punk wave.
I myself missed this new era of raw in your face music, I was still in the "my parents do the thinking for me" stage of my life.


(So much so that when I was 18 I even voted for the Country, now National Party, possibly a surprise for those who know me now. All I can say is I am truly, truly sorry, and as soon as I got to Uni and learned that it was Ok to think for myself, I began voting Green.)
My only real interaction with The Ramones was, as you may have guessed, through The Simpsons.
When rolling, The Ramones were known for being as offensive as possible, and on The Simpsons they were brought out, by accident, Mr Burns wanted The Rolling Stones, to sing 'happy birthday'.
I was tickled by the exchange between the Ramones and Mr Burns, and it just goes to show that even these grunge, black-hearted guys can laugh at themselves.
Here is the exchange in full: (Smithers is Mr Burns's PA).
Smithers: Here are several fine young men who I'm sure are going to go far. Ladies and gentlemen, the Ramones.
Mr. Burns: Ah, these minstrels will soothe my jangled nerves.
Joey Ramone: I'd just like to say this gig sucks!
Johnny Ramone: Hey, up yours, Springfield!
Joey Ramone: One, two, three, four!
[the Ramones start playing a tune and singing "Happy Birthday"]
Joey Ramone: Happy birthday to you!
Johnny RamoneChristopher Ward: Happy birthday!
Joey Ramone: Happy birthday to you!
Johnny RamoneChristopher Ward: Happy birthday!
Joey Ramone: Happy birthday, Burnsey! Happy birthday...
Joey RamoneJohnny RamoneChristopher Ward: you!
Christopher Ward: Go to hell, you old bastard!
Marky Ramone: Hey, I think they liked us.
Mr. Burns: Have the Rolling Stones killed.
Smithers: But sir, those aren't the...
Mr. Burns: Do as I say! 

Bill(L), Tim and Graeme made up The Goodies team.
In the background is a giant Dougall from The Magic Roundabout,
one of their written while on drugs episodes.
It's sad that the original Ramones have all gone, and so young.
(By the way, they are not related, but chose pseudonyms with the surname of Ramone.)
Of the originals, Joey Ramone died aged 49 of lymphoma, a type of Leukaemia, Johnny Ramone died aged 55 of prostate cancer, Dee Dee Ramone died of a heroin overdose aged 51 and last week Tommy Ramone passed away aged 65, of bile duct cancer.
However their laughing at themselves reminded me of another great take on punk, done by The Goodies.
The Goodies were an outrageous (for the time) comedy trio who did a weekly show on the BBC.
The weekly dynamic was that Graeme was the brain box, Bill was the radical and Tim the arch conservative.
In the punk episode they form a punk band and have to come up with names for themselves.
They decide to call the band Willie Snot and the Bogies, and then says Bill: "That'll get right up their noses!"), Bill asks Graeme what his own nasty new punk stage name will be. 
Graeme initially suggests "Sweaty Socks", but a less-than-impressed Bill exhorts "C'mon, think of something universally objectionable!" to which Graeme replies, "Vanessa Redgrave?!" 
Bill (suitably impressed), says"Perfect! Perfect! I'll be Willie Snot, you be Vanessa Redgrave …"

As to why The Goodies considered Vanessa Redgrave universally objectionable, that seems to stem from the controversy of 1977.
In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film The Palestinian about Palestinians and the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation
That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi German regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. 
"This is the fuckin' news", said the
normally conservative BBC news reader
on the Goodies punk episode.
Thus Redgrave was on both sides of the Middle East argument, seemingly supporting the Palestinians, and simultaneously supporting the Jewish peoples who endured the Holocaust.
It seems in this argument you can't be on both sides at the same time, and this led to The Goodies tapping into her being objected to by all sides of an argument.
Whatever, it was a killer funny episode.
The Goodies were spot on in another way that brings us to a less than savoury topic.
Bill and Graeme absolutely hated Rolf Harris, couldn't stand him.
Tim didn't think much of him, but did at least try to be civil to him.
Bill and Graeme's antipathy to Harris stemmed mainly from his music, but they may have been closer to the truth with their dislike than anyone realised with the recent charges of sexual assault of children against Harris.
Bill and Graeme thought he shouldn't be allowed on the BBC, and looks like the BBC should have listened to them.





Shaun the Sheep 

And segueing neatly from television of the seventies to that of today, and moving to a much more pleasant topic, we come to Shaun the Sheep. 
Recently as many of you know I started watching Peppa Pig, I'm still watchign, and still loving it.
I enjoy the gentle whimsy and life lessons that the animals of Peppa's world give and learn.
It's everything that I never had as a child, and am glad that her show gets a quarter of a million viewers each episode.
Then one afternoon in therapy Paula the Wonder Horse recommended that Shaun the Sheep was very good as well, and had more in it for adults, so I may enjoy that too.
So now I watch Peppa and Shaun every day am am tapping into that childhood I never had.
I know it can come across as kinda creepy that a fifty year old man with no kids watches children's shows, but I can assure you my motives are completely ulterior.
Shaun is done (originally) by Nick Park, who brought us Wallace and Grommit, and the same gently amusing tone pervades live at Mossy Bottom Farm.
I was particularly taken with the episode where Shaun and the other sheep play cricket.
A rare bird was seen at mossy Bottom farm, and a camera crew came down to film it.
With the dog and farmer concentrating on the bird, Shaun and his friends decide to have a game of cricket while not observed.
This they do, but the camera operator sees what they're up to, and realises that is far more lively footage.
The camera guy then spends the rest of the episode attempting to film the sheep's cricket match, but Shaun and his crew manage to keep their activities on the QV, and the episode ends with the camera man having a nervous breakdown, having missed the footage of a lifetime.
It's marvellous stuff, and I like Shaun and his woolly friends as much as I like The Simpsons, and those who have been watching this space will know that that is an accolade I don't hand out lightly.

Dry July.

And on a final note, I am doing Dry July.
This wonderful charity was set up to support adults with cancer.
So far the group has raised a staggering $1,945,491.28.
If you would like to help you can log into my page and donate.

I of course receive no money for this, it all goes to various cancer charities.
I'm doing it as I've spent 25 odd years drunkenly destroying the lives of those around me, and so now can give something back.
Well done Dry July.
Link to Dry July

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