Becoming offended in defense of someone else

Note: This column appears in the 4/1 issue of The Glendale Star and the 4/2 issue of the Peoria Times

One of the clues that I am getting older is that I am becoming increasingly offended by things.

In my younger days, nothing fazed me. Even things that I recognized as being extremely offensive were not actually offensive to me. It wasn’t that I didn’t have morals -– I was just indifferent to or amused by the lack thereof in others. Which, I guess, reflected poorly on my own morals, but whatever. I’m not the one on trial here!

Anyway, now in my early 30s, I am finding myself perturbed by even things that have gained national acceptance. Sometimes especially things that have gained national acceptance.

Exhibit A for me is “Dancing With the Stars.” Believe me that I do not voluntarily watch this show. (Don’t get me wrong -– I watch plenty of shows that would make you question my masculinity. This is just not one of them.) But my wife does. And I am appalled by it.

I mean, have you seen this show? It’s nothing but scantily clad men and women –- and, in some cases, teenagers –- grinding on people that are not their significant others. Then they are judged by a panel that includes a crazy Italian man whose critiques are just sexual innuendos. Last week Pamela Anderson performed and the host looked like he needed a cigarette after watching it. In fact, I am convinced that everyone on the show is sleeping with each other and ten years from now we’ll find out that it was pretty much the Studio 54 of dance shows. It should be on Cinemax, but it instead airs in prime time on a network owned by Disney.

"I'd move my hand lower, but this is a family photo-op. I'm Ian Ziering."

Not so much as five years ago, I would have read that previous paragraph and slapped myself for writing it. What has happened to me?

Sure, as previously mentioned, I am getting older. However I don’t necessarily think that age itself relates directly to an increased sensitivity to broadcasted cleavage. But being a father does.

Things never offended me before because I trusted myself to not be adversely influenced by them. As an adult I can’t say for sure that I, in actuality, wasn’t, and I now understand my parents’ opposition to certain things I listened to, watched, and the people I hung out with.

(Side note: I still remember the day that the song “I Touch Myself” came on in the car and my mom flipped out. Fascinatingly awkward. And can you believe that was a song that gained radio play? I always felt bad for parents of my generation, who grew up listening to Frankie Valli and then had to deal with hearing “Do Me” while driving their kids to school.)

Now that I’m on the other side, I’ve become sensitive to almost everything. My radar of inappropriateness is constantly buzzing. It’s certainly not like we’d ever watch Dancing With the Stars with our little one –- or, even if we did, that she’d notice anything other than the lights and glitter…and maybe Pamela Anderson –- but my whole mindset has changed. Every thing that I watch, and listen to, and say, I do with her in mind.

Things that aren’t good for her are becoming less appealing and more offensive to me. I have morphed into a combustible old man and she’s not even one-year-old yet. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get these kids off my lawn.


capewood said…
This show doesn't bother me one little bit. Do you want to know why? I've never seen a single minute of it. It's one of a great many shows that I read the description of and said, "That doesn't sound interesting at all".
Bill said…
I completely agree, both about Dancing With The Stars (I've skimmed through a couple episodes this season for the first time ever), and finding myself becoming increasingly offended by things that as recently as 5 years ago I would have just laughed at. For me, it might be because I am putting myself in the position of "likely future parent" and imagining if my hypothetical child was exposed to it.

You also hit on a great point about the national acceptance aspect. I'm sure it's a kind of psychological thing present in most people, but nothing touches a nerve to me quite like the phenomenon of, "What, am I the only one who sees {something}?!"