Archive for CNN

The F***ing Problem with Children’s Literature

Posted in opinion, pop culture with tags , , on June 28, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Earlier this month, a new children’s book by Adam Mansbach was published called “Go the F*** to Sleep.” The book is crass, angry, and hilarious, beautifully illustrating the struggles of putting a child to bed. And when it’s read by Samuel L. Jackson, the hilarity grows ten-fold. The book switches from peaceful depictions of the world settling down for the night to an exasperated parent wondering why his child won’t just, as the title suggests, go to sleep.

Obviously, this isn’t a book to read to your children. If anything, this is less of a “children’s book” than it is a book for adult to read, relate to, and laugh about. Because if you’re a parent, chances are you’ve had these exact same struggles with putting your child to bed, and if the narrative is to be believed, each parent has thought about saying those exact words to their children. Even Samuel L. Jackson admits it in the opening of the audiobook:

“I did say go the f___ to sleep to her a lot. And I think at some point, she would look at me when I would come in the room, and she would look at me and say, ‘Go the f___ to sleep, Daddy?’ And I would say, ‘Yeah, go the f___ to sleep.'”

Yet some people are missing the joke. Karen Spears Zacharias, in an op-ed column for CNN, chastises the violent language present in the book, saying that it could be really damaging and demeaning to children, causing them great psychological harm.

In all honesty, I get it when people miss the joke. There have been numerous times where I’ve said something in jest, only to have to explain the joke later so that I don’t appear like a total jerk. Perfect example: while on a trip to Norway, I commented, “Of all the ferries to take in this country, why do we have to take the fjord one?” which was a play on the name of the ferry company, Fjord1. I then had to explain the pun to nearly half of the group I was with, because they didn’t like how I was complaining about the accommodations.

Regardless, I understand when people miss the joke. What I don’t understand is this quote from the article: “Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos.” The quote comes from Dr. David Arredondo, an expert on child development from San Francisco, and in all honestly, he couldn’t have found a slipperier slope than if he had been driving a truck with bald tires and no brakes down the side of a frozen Niagara Falls.

What if the book were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims, or Latinos? I imagine the book would read something like this: Jews, go the f___ to sleep. Black people, go the f___ to sleep. Muslims, go the f___ to sleep. Latinos, go the f___ to sleep.

The point of the book isn’t to be demeaning or demoralizing to kids. It’s a book for the parents. It’s even expressly stated in the blurb on the back of the book: Go the F*** to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world… beautiful, subversive, and pants-wettingly funny–a book for parents new, old, and expectant. You probably should not read it to your children. (Emphasis added)

The reaction to this book would make one think that this is the first children’s book for adults that’s out there. It’s not. The Amazon page for Go the F*** to Sleep leads to several others of its ilk, such as All My Friends are Dead, about “downside of being everything from a clown to a cassette tape to a zombie”; and the Baby Be of Use series, which includes Baby Fix My Car, Baby Do My Banking, and, my personal favorite title, Baby Get Me Some Lovin’.

The point is, this is not a children’s book. This is a parent’s book, a little comic relief from the otherwise stressful job of caring for another being that is totally dependent on you for everything. Normally, I would ask why this book is such a big deal, but then I remember that we live in a culture where if you aren’t offended, you just didn’t understand it, like some sort of subversive hipster culture.

Zacharias uses her outrage at Go the F*** to Sleep to comment on swearing in the household and the decline in children being read to at night, which, while valid points, are so far from the initial point of the outrage that I wonder how she got there.

I hope for her children’s sake, Zacharias didn’t read this book to her children. Because if she did, her children are totally f___ed.

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Enough About Lindsay Lohan

Posted in pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

What I said back in February about Tiger Woods holds true about Lindsay Lohan: who cares?

I turned on CNN today after class today hoping to be enlightened about the world. I know that there is so much going on in the world–the BP oil spill, the deadly airplane crash in India, and Clinton’s talks with North Korea–that it was going to be a really enlightening hour before I had to leave to run errands for the day.

But imagine my dismay when, once the TV warmed up, I was greeted to a live feed of a courtroom. And sitting in the courtroom was none other than Lindsay Lohan. She was on trial because she missed probation classes. She was going to find out her fate of not seriously trying to sober up, and was eventually sentenced to some community service, and a bracelet that is able to detect alcohol content in the blood stream.

But the question returns: who cares?

I’m a firm believer that if someone’s life isn’t affecting mine, I’m not going to worry about it. If Lindsay Lohan wants to party all the time and get absolutely ripped on a bunch of different drugs, I don’t care. Let her do it. She can be an example to other young “starlets” that a life of partying does nothing but ruin your reputation and could kill you before your big break.

CNN, I don’t know why you thought this was newsworthy, but you were dead wrong. Instead of covering the drama associated with the BP oil spill, you fabricated “drama” about the dramatic sentencing of Lindsay Lohan. Even Lindsay wasn’t interested in her hearing: Her eyes were drooping, she looked tired, and it was obvious she didn’t want to be there, because she was four minutes late to the hearing. If anyone watched the “saga” unfold, you could see that Lindsay appeared absolutely bored out of her mind.

Either that, or she was completely hammered.

There are far too many news stories more important than “Celebs Gone Wild.” Front page of the Des Moines Register today had a fascinating article on the Guatemalan child labor trials in Postville, IA, something far more newsworthy than, “LiLo Sentenced To Wear Jewelry!”

My plea will probably fall on deaf ears once again, as we’re still talking about Tiger Woods’ impending divorce nearly four months after his accident, which lead to news about his affairs.

Honestly though, Lindsay Lohan is not worth the air time. If you’re that desperate to fill time with “news,” why don’t you find some feel good stories to balance out the tragedy in the world? Make the news something pertinant to your viewers interests. Celebrities are only interesting when they’re in movies, or in concert, or guest starring on TV shows. They are not interesting when they’re caught with hookers, drugs, or alcohol, nor are they interesting when they’re beating up their friends, family, and fans.

To quote that famous episode of South Park I mentioned before: Looks like another good harvest this year…