Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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“Traditional Fun.”

May 21st, 2007 · 1 Comment · Gaming, Politics, Rants

Ye gods.

It appears that - having sucked the joy out of everything ELSE on earth - conservatives now feel the need to have their own form of “traditional play” for children to engage in. And what counts as “traditional play,” you may ask? Why, it’s the style of play THEY engaged in as children, of course.

Yes, back in the heady days of yore when Jesus was President, EVERYTHING was better. Our gays stayed firmly in their closets, uppity minorities stayed in their part of the buses, everybody was married (well… except the aforementioned gay folks), we all started our days with a bracing round of Pledges of Allegiance to the Bible of the United States of Anti-Communism and - BY GOD - kids played outside whether they wanted to or not.

The argument - such as it is - in favor of compulsory outdoor activities seems seems to be two-fold:

1) It’s “better.”
2) Everyone whose kids play inside is a pussy.

This first point is poorly articulated - both in the post in question and from people in general who hold this position to be true. I will absolutely recognize that certain “traditional” games have the benefit of being active and physical, but beyond that, I can’t find a single compelling reason to prefer them to… well… anything ELSE a child might want to do.

As for the second point, there seems to be some weird belief that children are being FORCED to play indoors and that it is somehow the parents who are driving kids away from rousing games of “Monkey In the Middle” and “Smear the Queer” (ah, the wholesome nature of “traditional play”) in favor of video games, cartoons, funnybooks, doll-houses, Pokemon and CSI: Pre-Adolescents (The Home Game). Quoth the TradPlay Advocate:

Nowadays, I think parents accept indoor activities better for some reason. Maybe they like knowing where the kids [are] and that nothing will physically hurt them… nothing sudden, at least… probably.

Or… ya know… maybe we’ve managed to develop activities that children don’t need to be FORCED into enjoying. Maybe I’m biased simply because I generate fun for a living, but the reason kids are choosing to play with their Wiis rather than running outside to bounce balls off of barren concrete walls (”for weeks!”) has nothing to do with a crumbling of the foundation of traditional values or some pandemic outbreak of paranoid parental over-protection.

Kids seek out the things that they enjoy the most. Simple as that.

If “Seven Up” was more fun than Rayman: Raving Rabbits, guess what? There’d be lines around the block when the new shipments of red rubber balls came in. Kids don’t like going outside because all of the REALLY cool stuff is INSIDE. That’s why the adults spend all of THEIR time indoors.

Which, of course, points squarely at the actual motivation behind these and other “just go outside” arguments. It’s not about figuring out what’s “best” for kids or trying to protect them from the dangers of video games (isn’t it funny how a parent who worries about leaving children unattended outside is paranoid, but a parent who worries that exposure to Dragonball Z might turn a child into a godless, fornicating sociopath is properly concerned about the Modern World?). It’s not about combating the vast left-wing conspiracy aimed at destroying all things Wholesome and Traditional.

No, what it’s all about is the fact that parenting is hard and exhausting.

Sending your kid outside for an hour means you can have a glass of wine or have a phone conversation that isn’t censored for “little ears” or watch this week’s Tivo’ed episode of Cock Fighting With the Stars or spend some quality time with your GE “Magic Wand” personal massage unit or, hell, maybe even sneak in a quicky with your Significant Other. All of these are TOTALLY valid reasons to stick the little creatures out in the back yard for a while and if people were writing books all about how compulsory games of freeze tag will dramatically improve your sex life, I’d be totally supportive.

But NO, that would be honest and would point to a suspicious (though totally human and understandable) lack of TOTAL DEVOTION to micromanaging the lives, morals and thoughts of our children. So instead we have to sit through yet another freaky, conservative fantasy about how everything - EVERYTHING - was better When We Were Kids and then wade through an ocean of pseudo-scientific bullshit that tries to “prove” that there’s a compelling - nay, NECESSARY - argument in favor of unplugging the video games and forcing kids to joylessly toss soggy Nerf footballs around outside while Mommy and Daddy are “special wrestling” inside (told ya all the cool stuff was indoors).

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Ralf // May 21, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Well, yes Josh. But you are biased because of your work on that new game with all the Dungeons and the Dragons in it. For shame!

    Besides, whenever my parents forced me to play outside, I just brought my nerd-books with me.

    Take that EXERCISE!

    PS I would totally buy a book called ‘Everything Was Better When Jesus Was President’

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