What I Hear When You Say ‘I Miss the America I Grew Up In’
Nostalgia is a funny thing. There's a reason we like reminiscing with our friends and family about 'the good old days'. It reminds us of times of joy and happiness. But that's not always the case. When someone says 'I miss the America I grew up in', here's what they usually mean:
- My childhood was filled with joy and I miss that.
- We had good, wholesome family values that guided us as a country.
- It was a simpler time where I didn't have to worry about as much.
Well, here's a direct retort to all of that:
- Most people's childhoods are filled with joy. That's a part of being a kid. No responsibilities.
- Whatever your family valued is what YOU consider "wholesome" family values.
- Being younger, generally everything was simpler because as you grow up, you have more concerns.
But what do I hear when someone says "I miss the America I grew up in"? I hear "I'm too lazy to grow as a human being. I like things the way the were and I don't want to change. I also don't have the capability or desire to understand just how racist and misogynistic the United States used to be."
I get that there are things from when we were younger that appeal to us. But a statement like "I miss the America I grew up in" doesn't come off as feeling nostalgic because it's generally piggybacked on a post or comment about how we've become too sensitive or even more harshly, how racism doesn't exist anymore.
A perfect example of this was Disney removing movies like The Aristocats, Peter Pan, and Dumbo from Kids profiles on Disney+. Did they take the movies down altogether? No. They just made it so it's not on your Kids profile. I'm perfectly okay with this. My kid has a tablet with Disney+ and she has her own profile. I would rather her not be able to watch those movies without adult supervision. There are some hardcore racist things in those movies. But that doesn't mean I don't want my kid to watch them at all. I believe in education and growth. The only way you can do that is to watch something like Peter Pan and explain to your child why What Makes the Redman Red such a cringe worthy song.
Of course, this doesn't completely negate the fact that cancel culture does go too far. Pepe Le Pew was recently removed from the new Space Jam. First off, Pepe Le Pew was super rapey. But the way they were handling it on Space Jam sounds like they were addressing the issue. Here is what the script called for.
Pepe was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by Santo. He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand. James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.
This scene is how you should handle something like this because it addresses the issue. Doesn't hide from it. But this means we need to actually look at each situation for what it is and not paint with a broad brush while dealing in absolutes. We deal in absolutes because it's easy and mob mentality works best when it's simple.
I get it though. I miss parts of my childhood and younger years, but I'm not willing to remain static as a human being just because it becomes difficult to grow.