Friday, July 5, 2013

Censorship and the Mother.

^Dramatic Representation of My Mother's Fight Against Swearing

Tonight, as I was doing the dishes and cleaning up from all the raucous independence partying, I decided to put on an episode of Columbo from Netflix. I just pressed a random episode, and soon found myself watching something completely unfamiliar -- "Dawn's Early Light." I was utterly perplexed on how there could be an unwatched episode of Columbo in my life, because that is literally how I spent every Friday night when I was 12 -- having Columbo DVD marathons (I was actually a social and happy child; sometimes [once], I had friends join me for these glorious marathons).

And then, I remembered.

It had a black dot next to its title.

My mother loved Columbo. (She still does; she's not dead. It's just that I'm speaking about the past right now.) She owned all the seasons on DVD and encouraged all of her children to appreciate Peter Falk's perfection. However, as with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, we were not allowed to watch episodes with black dots next to them. This meant there was something terribly, terribly inappropriate in them (probably someone saying "darn it," but not exactly that -- if you now what I'm saying heh heh [I am the most non-swearing person to ever exist (besides my mum, of course)]).

Apparently, after all these years, I had still never seen it.

These musings, of course, got me to thinking about other ingenious ways my mother chose to protect her children from the dangers of the outside world.

Well, reading was a bit of problem. But, not too big a problem for my mother, of course!

When I was young, my mum read books out loud to my siblings and I for usually around an hour a day. This is how I first was introduced to Dickens, Austen, Indian in the Cupboard, and all the other greats.

Unfortunately, great literature occasionally has horrible language. How could my mum get around this?

Simple. She just substituted the obscene language for appropriate words.

However, she was never quite quick about it. I mean, she would be rolling along quite nicely -- and suddenly, there would be a long pause and, "darn," "what the heck," or "I'm a jack-- er, donkey."

And, if she assigned us reading on our own with less-than-savory wording included, it was not uncommon to find carefully sharpied spots with alternate words written in. (All this did was lead to all of us holding pages to the light, trying to figure out what was really written.)

And, speaking of sharpies, I recall having a picture book about Columbus -- and many of the Native Americans had lovely pairs of shorts. Apparently, the ancient Egyptians wore similar uniform outfits, because that's what one found in the E pages of the World Book Encyclopedia.

Then, there was television. My younger siblings and I loved Amazing Race, but weren't allowed to watch it as it aired, because of possible bad language. Instead, my mother would watch it on Sunday night and tape it on VHS. And then, on Monday morning, she would watch it again while she exercised. As she watched, she carefully recorded over any swearing. And by carefully, I mean that everyone swear word was heard very clearly and then followed by thirty seconds of blue screen.

My mother had a similar remote difficulty when it came to commercials. We would be watching something as a family, the commercials would start and we all got to busily ignoring them -- paying zero attention to the screen. But then, a Victoria's Secret ad would show up. We were all still deeply paying attention to anything but the TV screen, but that didn't phase my mum. Instead of maybe changing the channel using the remote, she would jump up --screaming, "AHHH! DON'T LOOK!"-- and throw herself --arms out-stretched-- in front of the TV.

Then we all looked up.

And, I definitely have dozens of other examples of mother's valiant battle against culture, but I think these are enough to give a flavor of my mumzie. However, she has gotten way chiller in later years. My youngest brother is 13, and he actually gets to go see PG-13 movies. When I was 13, it meant that it was time to watch PG movies. PG-13 was the rating given to bad movies. And R was a mythical rating that only heathens watched.

Anyway, I appreciate all of my mother's efforts; because, while they weren't always necessarily successful, they did teach me to be discerning and intentional about my life and my choices.

And I still don't swear.

And, occasionally, I have the desire to draw neat, little sharpie outfits onto people in my textbooks.

Thanks, Mom!
(Even though you --rather hypocritically-- definitely taught me to say "bloody," and it causes much shock and horror to my friends/co-workers of British and/or Canadian origins.)


Sarah Asay said...

this made me literally lol. but you are the lucky one. when i was 13 i was finally allowed to watch the bachelor & the bobbysoxer but only with the greatest of reservations.

Millie said...

Oh my gosh! I didn't know that! That is hilarious. But, you know, Shirley Temple is pretty crazy in that movie (and goes to his hotel room! AHHH!).

I wasn't allowed to read The Blue Castle until I was like 14, because of some plot points. haha

Millie said...

And James just does whatever he wants. Honestly.

VKMfanHuey said...

...sounds like you have a great ma! As a parent, ya have to TRY to instill as much 'proper protocol' as possible into your kids, to ready them for the 'real world'... if anything, it's been my experience that folks who use excessive foul language in general conversation are actually trying to cover up the fact that they are poor conversationalists, or don't understand a topic, thus try to compensate with profanity...

OK, off my soap box / high general...listen to your mother! :-)

And have a great summer...and Keep It Gingery, Millie! :-)


kate gabrielle said...

I love blog post! You have fantastic style and conversation. Perhaps endeavor to look at our new flashy website about Amazing Race and VHS!! Thank you for wonderful writing!!

Millie said...

Hu: Thanks for the lovely response! I actually read it to my mother; and she was quite pleased! :-)

Millie said...


kate gabrielle said...

But seriously, I love this post. My mom was the same way (even the "three blind mice" song was changed from "she cut off their tails with a carving knife" to "she gave them some cheese and was very polite"!) And I still don't swear either. GO US!! :D

Millie said...

Oh, wow! That is hilarious. I love that.

My mother would NEVER let us watch Bambi for similar reasons.

Also, we never celebrated Halloween, but one year, my mother decided we would have homeschool "learning" party on that day. So, she invited some homeschool families over and we were going to watch a docudrama about Martin Luther (Reformation Day. History. Yay. haha).

Well, apparently, in the first five minutes the Martin Luther actor was completely nude (I was so little, I don't remember). She's never forgotten her failing. ;-D

Go us, indeed!

Hamlette said...

When I was a kid, we all watched movies together as a family -- never just us kids. Whenever an unacceptable word was said in a movie, one of my parents would say, "Bad word." They did that until I went to college -- although for a while, my dad tried just muting the sound whenever he remembered there might be a bad word coming, which was HORRIBLY ANNOYING since then we'd miss vast chunks of dialog and plot.

Some movies, we just didn't get to watch because there was too much bad language. But this meant that the first time I encountered the F-bomb, I was like seventeen and read it in a book. Aloud. To my twelve-year-old brother. My mother came screeching in from the kitchen and grabbed my book and said, "We don't ever say that word!"

So I went and looked it up in the dictionary.

But anyway, I still don't swear either.

Annabeth Dickie said...

My Mum is exactly like that BUT not as bad!!! I am 13 and cannot watch ANY PG films without someone there......BUT I still watch them on Mum's DVD player :)


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