Newspapers and Gene Kelly and YouTube

I just wrote an Op-Ed column for the Patriot-News about my hot and cold relationship with electronics - mostly saying how I'm luke warm about it all - and then completely overslept this morning because I cleverly set my alarm for 5:30 PM instead of 5:30 AM.

Pushing buttons is hard.

Touchscreen buttons are worse. I'm a person with fairly lithe fingertips, but trying to type or navigate little squares on a touchscreen makes me feel like I have hams for fists. Stylus, you say? Okay. Can you put your hands on your stylus is right this second? I mean, without fishing through the sofa cushions or digging under your car seat? Exactly.

And I know, I know...I'm a blogger. I've reached at least the third circle of electronic media geekdom, and my Twitter account puts me somewhere in the deeper, darker depths of online megalomania.

But that's where I draw the line.

Usually. I do honestly adore my eReader. People are always talking about how they like a real book, the feel and smell of a real book. Most of my books are boxed in the basement and now smell like mold. And not the flowery castle library kind of mold. More like bleu cheese and mice dropping. So yeah...eReader. Love it.

Here's the Gene Kelly video I mentioned in the column. It's from the 1950 movie Summer Stock. It's pretty darn good.

I adore YouTube. Possibly more than any other cyber tool after email, I use YouTube as a direct extension of my parenting.

(I deliver a lot of unpopular news and instructions to my children via email: "Get your laundry done, or else. Your teacher spoke to me about a project you never handed it - DO IT NOW. Dishes aren't done; I've confiscated your iPod." This way, I'm out of earshot for the whinging.)

But YouTube is sort of a home school picture window into the culture and history of days gone by.  Days when people were tiny and danced on gigantic type-writers because there was no television and what else were you supposed to do with your time?

As I was looking up Gene Kelly videos for the Patriot piece, my three kids and I were instantly able to watch Kelly’s legendary dances from An American In Paris, Singin’ In The Rain, and the Slaughter on Tenth Avenue ballet – prompting questions about whether the French really cavort on fountains and why there aren’t more thugs and violent shooting deaths in The Nutcracker.

The other morning, one of my kids came downstairs wearing a shirt with the price tag still hanging from the armpit. I noted, "You look like Minnie Pearl."

To which the child responded, "Minnie WHO? Oh...wait...Mom, no, never mind. Is this some crazy person from back when you were a kid?'s okay. You don't have to show me on YouTube!"

Too late.

My kids pretend to not be interested in life before Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And yet, a video like the one above can prompt a half-hour discussion about Dolly Parton's hair ornament alone. Is it a flower? A dead octopus? A flattened bird?

And when my six year old wanted to hear some "real Rock and Roll", I did him one better. 

When one of my children was in elementary school music class and the teacher asked if anyone knew who Elvis Presley was, she said she was the only one who raised her hand.


It's like not knowing who George Washington was. Well...okay...maybe Ben Franklin, inventor of everything, including the Bo Diddley beat.

And yes, we use YouTube for science lessons and geography look-sees and trips around the globe. We also watch videos of cats falling off counters and people launching themselves off human slingshots in their back yards - as a cautionary tale, don't you know.

But it's the questions like, "What the heck is Saturday Night Fever?" that I enjoy the most. Welcome to my childhood, kids. Not as many buttons. Kids entertainment programming didn't run 24/7. And the Bee Gees were the original Gangnam Style.

I love those kinds of questions.

At Kids Love Creepy Dolls and Alien Autopsies For Christmas!

1 comment:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

YouTube wasn't such a thing when my kids were younger, so they will never know the joys of Minnie Pearl.

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