I was talking today about a thing on Pop Culture Happy Hour last week where there was this theory put forth that in order to have cool kids, you ought to not be cool parents. The idea being that cool parents produce dull kids and vice versa, since kids rebel. This is echoed in a Wired piece this week about geeks needing a wider, blander culture to react against or else you don't get creativity.

And I thought a lot of the appeal of these ideas is that it gives you a formula for creativity, a way of ensuring you can be cool, when in fact creativity and talent is often innate, unearned and unfair. Which is not to say that you either get sprinkled with the creativity dust at birth and you’re a prodigy and if you aren't you should just shut up and there's no hope for you and hard work means nothing--could not disagree with that more. I just don't think it's wholly created by your environment, doesn’t always fit in with your personality, at least not in a way that makes it easy.

There's a scene in the movie Prick Up Your Ears where Joe Orton's lover expresses his puzzlement at the talent of Joe Orton. He, the boyfriend, iirc, had an unhappy childhood, had a mother who committed suicide, is gay...he's "practically a textbook" case of a great playwright with that life and yet...it's Orton who's the one with talent. A guy whose personality and past doesn't seem to fit this at all. It’s like Salieri’s horror at Mozart in Amadeus. This idea that the art you love or create reflects the type of person you are.

And it made me go back to that theory about dull parents/cool children and think about how my own tastes were formed. I honestly can't think of any tastes I have that I developed specifically against my parents' tastes. Like as a teenager and a kid there were plenty of things I loved that they didn't, but that was often more a generation thing. I suppose a lot of the stuff we liked in common I started liking when I was little, so probably still at the stage when you feel grown-up liking adult things your parents do.

There are things that I like today that I was introduced to by them. I always listened to Broadway musicals as a kid, often on albums from shows they saw in person. I still go to the theater and ballet. WNEW--the "make believe ballroom" radio station was always on in the kitchen so I was with all the pre-rock pop music and cabaret singers. Sometimes I'd object to a certain thing really vehemently--I remember as a kid loudly protesting Frank Sinatra's "Hey, Little Girl" as appalling and sexist, and 2 books my mom said she loved as a kid I loudly hated for sort of related reasons--but whether or not I liked or disliked the whole genre wasn't linked to my parents taste. Of course, who can say whether they were cool or dull? If I liked something they did it meant I thought it was cool.

There's at least one taste I have that seemed to come from nowhere, and that's my taste for horror movies. I guess my brother or sister might have technically introduced me? Can’t remember. But I didn't see anyone being into them or into something else consistently. I just had an instinctive, passionate love for horror from pre-school age. One of the first uses I put my ability to read to was scanning TVGuide to look for horror movies--back then "Movie: Thriller" indicated a horror movie (as opposed to "Movie:Suspense" which sounded scary but always disappointed!). That taste wasn't created by anything other than me being exposed to this thing and liking it.

Once when I was in high school I overheard my mother talking on the phone about this. I don't know who she was talking to, but apparently this was a curveball parenting challenge for her. Like many non-fans of horror movies she considered them vaguely bad and an obsession with them the sign of being disturbed in some mild way. But t here she was with a kid (she probably didn't know this type of kid existed) that sought them out. She said her first instinct was to put a stop to it, but she couldn't justify doing that because they obviously didn't bother me. I wasn't a perpetually scared kid, I didn't have nightmares, I wasn’t disturbed. etc. So she ultimately had to let me like what I liked because I liked it (with the occasional outburst about how terrible those movies were). I think I always remembered that conversation I overheard because I still think it was really cool that she respected my taste and admitted she just didn’t understand it. So many people assume there’s only one way to experience a thing so if you don’t like something they do it’s because you hate whatever great thing they see in it.

So ultimately I'd say my taste is a mixture of things I was exposed to at home, things I was exposed to by the culture or friends and things that I personally loved enough to seek out myself—which is going to lead to more obscure knowledge and taste in that area. I share more media in common with my mom now than I did when I was a kid. Like there's a big road we both like and then we both have our place on either side where she loves things I have no interest in (romance genre) or I love things she has no interest in (horror genre). But she doesn’t dismiss me as violently disturbed for liking horror movies and I don’t dismiss her as stupid or shallow for liking romances, since I know she’s neither of those things.

I don’t know what my point is with all of that. I think I’m really interested in other peoples’ experiences. Do people remember where their liking for something came from, for instance? Do they find themselves with very different taste than their parents have, and if so, can they trace a reason for that? Have they noticed the dull/cool generational theory? I think I’m pretty lucky that there’s plenty of tastes I do have in common with my mother especially, and a lot of that might come from a shared taste in fiction in general. Out of a season of TV shows, movies and books there’s going to be some we have in common (sometimes surprising me).

Anyone else have relevant experiences in this area?

From: [identity profile] kittyjimjams.livejournal.com


I have always been as delighted as my mother when we find something we both enjoy - I took her to see the new Star Trek movie because we'd watched the original series together when I was younger, and we help each other out with knitting patterns and the like. Not to sound sickening, but I've always found it was nice to share things with someone I love that much.

I can remember being fascinated by animation from a really early age, and staying up as late as I dared to watch random Japanese anime on Channel 4, when it was on, but I have no idea where that came from. I did try to show my Mum Spirited Away recently, and she was actually quite perturbed by it, because there wasn't any clear-cut good/bad split, but she didn't object to my loving it. She was always really pleased that I read the Lord of the Rings and liked it, but there was no way I was going to join her in reading the bloody Silmarillion.

I disagree with my Mum on any number of big issues - animal testing, homosexuality, immigration - but I honestly don't think it's in reaction against her opinions. If anything, her mitigating influence on my Dad's mainly conservative views was what encouraged me to start thinking about those subjects and how I felt about them.
ext_6866: (Hanging on a branch)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


It's not sickening!:-) It's something it's easy to take for granted when it's there but it's really a great thing to have. There's probably people with terrible relationships with family members where this is the one thing they can connect on. There's a lot of subjects it's better to avoid--like animal testing--but that can be safe ground.

I love your history with animation--that's the kind of fascination I mean. Who knows why it had that effect on you the way it wouldn't on someone else? But there it is! And I have to agree with you on not reading the Silmarillion. I tried it once and it just was not going to happen.
ext_11796: (Default)

From: [identity profile] lapin-agile.livejournal.com


Anecdotal response to one part of this: when I was growing up, all the kids I thought were cool (or socially enviable, which isn't entirely the same thing) had parents I thought were cool (or socially enviable). But perhaps the Pop Culture Happy Hour and Wired folks equate 'cool' with 'rebellious'? (Seems restrictive and not true to my experience.)

From: [identity profile] jlh.livejournal.com


To be clear PCHH was reacting to a comedy routine by Patton Oswalt, who expanded his thoughts in a long piece in Wired this month. So as of right now it's really just the one person, Patton Oswalt, who is doing such an equation and other people are reacting to it.
ext_6866: (I'll just watch from up here)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


Like JLH said it's not so much that they all think this on the podcast, it just got me thinking about the idea because it wouldn't have been funny if there wasn't a logic to it. And I think it's an idea that can be presented as almost a cliche. But in general it just made me think about where tastes come from. Because in fandom especially I feel like people can probably really explain what they love about the thing they love, and remember how they discovered it and when and what it changed in their life.
ext_2023: (Default)

From: [identity profile] etrangere.livejournal.com


I think there's one thing I really got from my parents, and that's a taste for reading. They both love books, I love books; their taste for it really allowed me to get a love for it early on and to stick with it.

Beyond that... well I started SFF by reading books in my father's library; but there was a lot of things in either of my parents' library which I may have tried but I never developed a taste for, you know? Read a bunch of Agatha Christie and other crime novels at some point, but unlike my mum I still wouldn't say I have a big taste for those. So in many ways, my parents' taste enabled me to pursue the tastes of mine from early on, but I don't think they really created them.

My mother was always very fond of my drawing, and I actually went to drawing classes for years. Yet nowadays I don't even bother doing fanart. But I always wanted to write, from since I was 9 - and okay, I don't write right now :(( - but it's still something I love doing in theory.
ext_6866: (Magpye)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


I'm sure I've read somewhere that one of the best ways to predict whether someone is going to read is if they grow up in a house of readers. It won't apply to everyone necessarily, but seeing people reading as a regular thing has got to be important. I can remember the first chapter book I read at the beach, and it was exciting to be reading a "real book" in part because that's always what my mom seemed to be doing.

I like the way you put it there, that their tastes enabled you to pursue tastes of your own. Did you go to art classes because you liked to do it, or was it something you did because it seemed natural but didn't really enjoy doing that much? I took piano and flute lessons for years and haven't touched either for a long long time!

From: [identity profile] ptyx.livejournal.com


My mother is my best friend, and we share a lot of tastes. But neither she nor my stepfather like rock music, so that was where we disagreed, and (when I was a teen) I had to rebel (LOL). It was hard, when I was a teen. But as time went by, we have learned to respect each other's choices. And I still live with my parents. Happily!

There's a Brazilian (humorous, satirical) punk music from the 80's which said (more or less), "My parents treat me very well, they spoil me. How can I get mature if I don't have any reason to rebel?" LOL.
ext_6866: (I'm listening.)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


Music is such a fun taste to look at since in a lot of cases, you wind up sharing your tastes whether the other person wants to at all! Sometimes you can't help but have opinions (and share them) about those things if you've heard them.

Love the song.:-)

From: [identity profile] wheelerwoolsey.livejournal.com


Wasn't "Hey Little Girl" a Jack Jones song or am I thinking of something else?

My parents grew up in the 1950s and 1960s....dad grew up listening to country music folks like Jim Reeves....my mom loved Elvis and the Beatles. When I was about 9 years old, I found some old Glenn Miller and Guy Lombardo records in the garage.....they were records that my mom had bought when she was in high school in the 1960s to appease her much older brother who thought rock and roll music was of the devil ("that guy is singing about being a hound dog--how can ma let her LISTEN to that?") So when her older brother was home, she'd listen to Guy Lombardo to appease him (even though she hated it)...when he left the house, she listened to Elvis. I myself found these records and started listening to them when I was about 9 and I was really blown away by the music. I still am. I'm not sure why but jazz of that era speaks to me in a way that other music doesn't. I remember in high school, mom would often make derogatory comments about how weird I was and she seemed to have a certain wish that I could have been a "normal" teen and liked "normal" things. (In retrospect, maybe my life would have been easier if I had, as I feel no connection to my generation really....songs and cultural references that you'd think I'd be familiar with go over my head. I guess I always have a feeling of not really belonging or fitting and almost feeling apologetic for my presence and I suppose part of that is because my tastes in everything are so far out of what most people are used to.)
ext_6866: (Dreamy)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


It is the Jack Jones song, yes. I first heard it as the Sinatra cover version.

LOL! I can't get over the guy singing about being a hound dog just because...why would that be a problem? Like, didn't he think he was like a werewolf? Did he not get it was a metaphor? An unflattering one?

I can totally understand where you're coming from with your tastes and how that can be hard. Especially when you realize how for a lot of people stuff in older things go over their head, like it's hard for them to understand what's going on because they interpret things through a totally different mindset.

From: [identity profile] jlh.livejournal.com


Do you mean "Wives and Lovers"? But I love that song! Bacharach! And the arrangement is so great. Seriously, it's on my ipod right now. And yeah, the gender politics are kind of gross—it was a theme for a movie—but it always reminds me of Rob and Laura Petrie. Like, it's the kind of song they'd sing and dance to on the specials.
ext_6866: (Onibaba)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


Yup, it's Wives and Lovers. 8-year-old me was like "WTF??!!! I object to this song in the name of women everywhere! How dare he!!!" So it became a running joke for my mom.

From: [identity profile] ava-jamison.livejournal.com


Oh! Heh. Now I know which one. "Comb your hair, fix your make-up!"
ext_1310: (almost like being in love)

From: [identity profile] musesfool.livejournal.com


Dude! Make-believe ballroom! Ted Brown! William B. Williams! Jonathan Schwartz! We used to listen to that when I was a kid too, and I still love big band music. And we listened to musicals, too. My dad's attempts to make us like opera were much less successful, but on the other hand (though the orchestral music and ballet took, at least with me), he introduced us to the Beatles and Billy Joel and Simon & Garfunkel (and Peter, Paul & Mary), and in my teenage years, I took great joy in introducing him to U2 and Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen. Now, in their 70s, my parents are fans of classic rock, so who can say?

And they are big sports fans, which we all turned out to be, though it's only in the past couple of years that my sister has finally come around on the subject (but like any new convert, she is the most rabid on the topic at the moment - perhaps because her heart hasn't been broken as many times over the years as the rest of us).

The only thing I can remember disliking because my mom liked them were romance novels, which I then read on the sly for years before finally admitting to it. And believe me when I say that my parents were never anybody's definition of cool or hip, pop culturally.
ext_6866: (Black and white)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


OMG, Yay! I had Jonathan Schwartz call my mom once on her birthday when I was in high school. Because remember he used to call people? I still can't believe I actually did that.

Your family sounds so fun.:-) There is something great about having common interests, things you can talk about and get excited about together. One thing my dad always liked that I couldn't get that into was some of the contemporary classical music. My grandfather was a musician who I think had a lot to do with 20th century orchestral music etc. but I could never get that into it. He used to drive me crazy when he took an interest in my piano practice sometimes because he didn't really know what he was talking about in a practical way.:-)

From: [identity profile] lilacsigil.livejournal.com


In some ways (reading) I take after my parents, in other ways (food, music) I very much don't. Neither they nor I are cool people! Politically, I'm far to the left of them, though my mother is generally left and my dad is centrist (except for being a raving racist about black people and only black people - though far less than his parents, so maybe that's slow progress?)
ext_6866: (Magpies in the library)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


That's going in the right direction! Do you all read similar things? This thread is making me think about how people can bond over different types of art. Fiction can sometimes bring in a lot of others ideas--and I guess music can too, but in a different way.

From: [identity profile] lilacsigil.livejournal.com


We all read widely, so there is a lot of overlap, but also areas where we specialise - I'm the only manga reader, but my youngest brother also reads comics. My dad and younger brother like biography, but my mum and prefer fictionalised biography. We all like popular science kind of books. Everyone except my mum likes video games, but only my youngest brother likes violent ones.

From: [identity profile] ava-jamison.livejournal.com


The one that springs to mind is a year or so ago I was riding in the car with my dad and I had on Miles Davis, who I love. My dad, it turns out, hates it. But anyway, I didn't even know my dad hated it until like a year ago, and he REALLY hates it. Too many notes, I think he thinks. But the funny thing is that I got my love of music from him and my mom, although neither of them like the same kinds I do. He was into audio equipment--all of his friends were, and so they competed for coolest stuff. So the house was wired to hear in every room/top components, and there was constant music playing. It was a mix of what he liked and what my mom liked (she studied opera and took singing classes, etc, so a lot of classical and musicals)--some, but not all of which I like today. I can't actually carry a tune, but I know all the words to pretty much everything I heard growing up. They played it constantly.

I got my love of bad horror from dad, although one of my earliest memories is watching Star Trek with my mom and her trying to explain how special effects worked. She loves the fantasy genre, however, and I don't, and she tries to recommend books to me, but I Tend to Not Like the same ones she does. She also got me an autographed paperback of A Wrinkle in Time, because she remembered I liked it so much reading it as a kid. I didn’t tell her that it wasn’t ME who loved that book. (I don't even remember reading it!) Which reminds me of one time my dad went to the library for me. I was sick and he came back with like nine books, all picked out. They were totally what he would have liked at my age. (I just did the same for my niece--sent a package of books I liked at her age. It went over as well as you’d expect.) He's the same person who gave me a Kindle this Christmas, and is forwarding me Kindle tricks and Kindle sites and all, so... thanks, Dad.

And thanks mom. Who showed me her new tv thing. It's the new thing that replaces Tivo and gives you shows and movies on demand. It hooks up to your tv? I think it starts with a 'Z'. (You can get Netflix and Hulu and a couple of other channels fed right into it.) She made a big point to show me how it works and rec shows for me—mostly British mysteries. Which I... may or may not watch, but I bet they're good!

Wow this got long. Anyway, my current opinion is that parents certainly can expose kids to what they like, and that can make our ultimate personal tastes more informed than we’d be if no one had exposed us to literature or the arts—or even, idk, things like learning to enjoy museums and etc. like that—but that our ultimate personal tastes are probably our own, a mix of what he grabbed and liked from them plus other stuff that’s either deeply within us or that we picked up within our own adventures.
ext_6866: (Artistic)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


LOL! So it's due to your dad that you had actually seen The Manitou (pronounced like the announcer says it). Awesome!

I think you really summed it up here. I guess there's also some influence from things you associate with what they did. For instance, you always hear about kids learning smoking from their parents, but my mom always said that she pretty much learned to hate smoking from her parents. She hated the smell in the kitchen in the morning etc. (That her mother died of lung cancer wasn't as much of a deterrant as that.) Of course she was also growing up in a world where smoking was what adults did, but she was put off it from an early age. (My dad did smoke but then just dropped it too decades ago.)

It's funny with the specific recommendations--like I said the 2 books my mom gave me growing up saying she loved them I absolutely hated. But then she redeemed herself by giving me I Capture The Castle when it came out again because she loved that one. Finally a book we both loved!

I never liked A Wrinkle In Time, myself. That story reminds me of a friend who got it into her head at some point that I just loved Lowly Worm from Richard Scarry. She even gave me a Lowly in an apple. But I was actually much more into Huckle Cat. Loved the lederhosen look.

From: [identity profile] ava-jamison.livejournal.com


Heh. Huckle and his lederhosen. I don't know how somebody can mix up Lowly and Huckle. Methinks maybe SHE liked Lowly.

Honestly, I don't think lung cancer is as big of a deterrent to smoking as certain other factors can be, like just likes/dislikes of the smell. (Not too long ago we were in Louisiana. Went to a diner and was surprised (but not THAT surprised to see that Louisiana still has smoking in restaurants.) So it smelled like bacon grease and cigarette smoke, just like my grandmother's kitchen used to smell.

And yeah, THE MANITOU should definitely be pronounced like the announcer says it. The Manitou deserves it!
misscake: made by bisty_icons on lj (Me!)

From: [personal profile] misscake


I do not like red cars for no valid reason other than the fact that my mother once told me she did not like red cars. Also, I love old musicals because my parents watched them frequently and took us to a lot of theater when we were young (which, sadly, I have not replicated with my own child).
ext_6866: (Hadn't thought of that)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


LOL! That's an awesome example. Were you very young when she told you about the red cars? I'm sure I have tons of little things like that, opinions I formed based on some comment I heard when I was very young.

From: [identity profile] r-ganymede.livejournal.com


I've heard of dull/cool-type theories before, but it was usually applied more along the lines of conservative/liberal. As in, if your parents are conservative, you'll be a liberal. If your parents are socialists, you'll be a libertarian. And so on, with the extremity of their views matching the extremity of yours, only in the opposite direction.

As for taste in media, my mom and I like a lot of the same things. Going to the movies together is kind of our mother/daughter activity -- it's actually what we do on major holidays. We both like sci-fi and fantasy, and we saw a LOTR movie at Christmas every year they came out. We also have pretty similar tastes in TV shows -- sci-fi/fantasy again, but also crime dramas and especially British mystery series, like Poirot. We still watch those together pretty often.

I definitely think the stuff I watched with her when I was really little influenced my taste. I don't think I'd like Star Trek:TNG nearly as much if I hadn't seen it for the first time at 4 years old. I didn't see TOS until I was older, and it didn't especially resonate with me. I don't care that much about the series, and the only movie I really liked was the fourth one (mostly because I loooooove time travel).

It's kind of weird, because I do like the *characters*, but I just can't stand watching most of the actual TOS episodes. Whereas I can watch even the most terrible episode of TNG, even when the plot of the week is so stupid that if it were on any other show, I'd be turning it off. I'm fairly certain that if I saw TNG for the first time at the age I am now, I wouldn't even have made it through the first season, let alone the whole thing.
ext_6866: (Hmmmm..)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


That's interesting about the politics--but a bit depressing if true, since it seems like those beliefs should have a lot more to do with reality! I think there are many people who have the same political views as their parents, really, and probably in families where the person goes the other way there's something in the dynamic that makes that not a surprise.

Of course, my own views are divergent with my parents so maybe that's why I don't want to believe that! But it's not something that was ever really an issue at home, you know? And a lot of it also seems generational.

That's really interesting about the sci-fi/fantasy/Star Trek connection between you and your mom. I think there's certain things that you can come to associate wiht a person as well, and have a soft spot for them because you can understand what the other person likes in it.

From: [identity profile] seductivedark.livejournal.com


A little late again. I'm becoming fashionable.

I diverge from my mother as often as I can. If I liked something she found a reason why I shouldn't. I liked rock. She told me that if you play the record backwards you hear Satanic messages. When that didn't work she said the lyrics were codes for where to buy drugs. I wanted to wear jeans, she was horrified and told me that proper young ladies don't wear them. I liked cheesy horror movies (I'm talking things like The Crawling Eye and that one with the scientists in Antarctica), she insisted I would give myself nightmares. She insisted on reminding me to say "thank you" until I was 40, when I finally told her that if I didn't know enough to do it by then, I would never learn so she could save her breath.

The one thing she did right was teach me to read. She hated reading, could never get through a book by herself unless it was filled with knitting patterns. Yet, she sat me down and cuddled me and read to me, running her finger under the words as she went along - I think it was to keep her place or because it helped her to read the words. That's how I learned to read, and I was reading by the time I was three. She didn't tell me, until I was a teen-ager, that she really didn't like to read.

So, just thinking about this for a minute and after having read other comments, I wonder if, maybe, the parent's reaction to the child's emerging tastes has a lot to do with whether the child rebels or not, taste-wise. If the parent offers something different (Lawrence Welk v. the Beatles, for instance) the child may consciously dislike LW just because the parent is trying to supplant the child's like with the parent's like. And, if the child actually does like or end up liking LW, the parent would likely be the last to know. It's sort-of like not wanting to go along with the program even if it turns out to be sensible, just because a person doesn't want to feel like they gave in to a jack-boot on their neck.

New granddaughter, btw. See icon.
ext_6866: (Baby magpies)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


She is beautiful--congratulations! Now you can read to her.:-)

As I was reading your post I thought the same thing, that maybe the reaction to your tastes has a lot to do with it. At least if you're going to rebel. Your mom certainly had some strong opinions about the tastes of "kids these days!" It is really interesting that she taught you to read--I guess she liked reading in theory and wanted to give you a true love of it in practice?

From: [identity profile] seductivedark.livejournal.com


This was what mothers were supposed to do so she did it. She always followed directions slavishly since she was orphaned early and didn't have anyone to emulate. In this case, the directions produced the desired results so, occasionally, those child-rearing theories pay off.

From: [identity profile] starfata.livejournal.com


I learned to read in school, but I didn't really like it much until the first summer I visited my grandparents, knowing how to read, and my granny would let me read to her every few chapters of the book we were reading at the time. From that, I got really into Enid Blyton chapter books.
I also remember that we had an illustrated copy of the Faraway Tree that my dad read to us, and I loved the pictures so much that I pretty much divided the next few years between fantasy and the famous five.
Most of my tastes actually came from my brother and my friends. Bro loves sci-fi, one friend likes manga/anime, and another loves dark fantasy. I love comic books, in addition to all those. The only taste I really picked up from my parents are murder mystery tv shows (raised on Poirot and Midsummer Murders) and grown up love/friendship/drama novels, eg by Cathy Kelly.
ext_6866: (Totem)

From: [identity profile] sistermagpie.livejournal.com


That's interesting that you didn't like it until that summer--I think most kids go over that hump with reading, where it changes from a chore that you're learning to something you love to do and it's cool that you can remember it!
.

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