Saturday, August 18, 2007

Culture shock or, I'm raising a freak

Yesterday my little E and I went to a "High School Musical 2" party. The movie premiered on the Disney channel last night, apparently much anticipated. Our realtor has a daughter about the same age as E, and she graciously invited her to come meet some other girls. It was a fun and interesting evening.

First off, we have never seen "High School Musical" (1), which didn't matter for watching the movie, but put us at a disadvantage for conversation with the other girls. They were singing the songs, talking about the characters and the plot, talking about the clothes. They were nice, and pleasant, and friendly - not cliquish or rude at all - but still it was obvious E did not fit in. She was ignorant of the culture she was in, and couldn't participate in the conversation.

Before the movie the Disney channel had a tv show on that was related to the movie, and we were semi-watching that before the real attraction started. It was so dumb. E just kept looking at me with this quizzical look in her eyes. I just smiled and shrugged, trying to convey "go along with it."

Oh, there was a time countdown too, and when it got to the last 60 seconds before the movie, the girls started counting down the time with it. They were really whipped into a frenzy when it came to zero. They got up, screaming and dancing. Like that Ed Sullivan show with the Beatles, only these were 8 year olds!

Then the thunder and lightning started and something happened to the satellite. The picture got all scribbly and then when out. It came back quickly, though... this time.

The movie itself was OK. Cute, pretty innocent. The girls' clothes were the worst thing about it, for me. The dancing was fun except for those exaggerated thrusting movements. (I don't think Elvis was ever that obvious.) The story was silly and predictable (indeed, my hostess told me that the story was pretty much the same as the first movie), but OK. OKish, let's say. One thing that struck me - a good thing - other than the main (bad) character, the girls were mostly not model-thin. In fact there was at least one girl who was downright fat (obese) but not played for laughs - she was just another of the friends, not the fat girl. (Though one of the girls at the party - the only one who might have been called fat - commented very negatively on the fat girl's weight. Interesting.)

About halfway through the movie the satellite went out again. The girls decided to find a game and started up Twister. This was the most fun part for E. Then, the birthday gifts were opened. Yes, this was a birthday party, though we had been assured that no gift was expected. We stopped off anyway and picked up a cute pink flamingo beanie baby. I figured I wasn't going to send a kid of mine into a party without a gift, even if she didn't know the birthday girl. As I saw the other gifts - nearly all "HSM2" themed (except for some Hannah Montana items, which I believe is a tv show) I had a moment of panic. We'd brought something too babyish! I was going to bring shame on my child for bringing a dumb gift. But the flamingo was well-received. Whew. E had a hard time oohing and aahing over the movie and tv-related gifts, but she did her best. She was clearly out of her element - she has no clue who Hannah Montana is - but managed well.

She could not help herself from a slight eye-roll when one girl sighed and said with great emotion "I love Sharpay's (the main character, and yes it is pronounced like the dog) clothes!" Ugh.

The movie came back on and everyone settled in. By the end most of the girls were pretty tired, except maybe the ones who'd consumed 3 juice boxes and were a little cranked up. E was ready to go home as soon as it was over. She thanked the birthday girl for inviting, accepted her treat bag (all HSM 2 items, natch), thanked the mom, and sighed with relief when we got into the car.

She has no expectation of seeing these girls again. I think she had a nice time, and it was an interesting experience for her.

I thought about the fact that I'm raising a family of freaks. My kids have no exposure to all this stuff. We don't buy school supplies related to movie and tv themes. I teach my kids NOT to buy any items with movie and tv themes. And they don't seem to want them, even when they are related to movies they know - Narnia, for example. I am really, really happy about that. I'm happy that she didn't drool over Sharpay's clothing, which was... you know. I'm happy that watching that didn't want to make her take a hip-hop dance class!

But there is a bit of a downside too, isn't there? When we lived in Oregon we were in a little Christian homeschooler cocoon. I didn't do that on purpose - I would have loved more contact, more friends who were different from us. But that's the way it worked out. When we moved, I was happily anticipating developing friendships outside that box. But I am not sure those friendships will develop since we live in such a different world. Can a child who doesn't live a life saturated with media and entertainment really relate to a child who does?

1 comment:

Becca said...

I know you don't think you're actually raising a freak. ;-)

We have been through scenes like this with my kids and it's always refreshing for them to meet someone with which they can have a meeting of the minds on something more meaningful than Bratz dolls or the latest cheesy t.v. show.

I'll bet your family will find another freaky family to hang out with once school gets started and you start meeting other students with families.