Positive Cynicism – An open letter to my imaginary son about a very important issue
Aaron R. Davis
You live in strange and frustrating times. Assuming that global warming superstorms don’t kill us all, you will one day be able to tell your kids, hopefully, that you managed to survive the most ridiculous political circus in American history, the probable fall of American civilization, Internet trolls rushing to the constant defense of Katherine Heigl and Pajama Jeans.
But I don’t want to talk to you about all of that. I want to talk to you about something even more important. I need to write this down, because I’m not sure how to say this to you openly.
We need to talk about the MTV Movie Awards.
Specifically, Reese Witherspoon.
Even more specifically, her use of a certain word.
The m-word. Or the m-f-word.
Oh, hell, you’re 16 now. I’m going to treat you like the sophisticated young man you’re growing into, and write it the way our respected and serious news outlets are styling the word this morning, because you live in a country of adults. Son, Reese Witherspoon used the word “motherf***er.”
I know. This is obviously the biggest news story of the day. An adult at a live show that aired on a cable network said that terrible word. At least that’s what I read this morning in the news. I was part of the vast majority of Americans not actually giving a damn what was happening on MTV. And, to be honest, son, I’m not a hundred percent sure that you were watching it either or, at 16, if you even know or care who Reese Witherspoon is, but I still feel that this is some kind of vaguely-defined outrage that we need to discuss. Not because you were watching — were you? — but because you could have been watching, and that makes me angry.
I’d really like to know who Reese Witherspoon thinks she is, saying such a word in front of people on a live show that teenagers may have actually been watching probably.
Mungo, as I said before, you’re a sophisticated young man. And I’m sorry that your ears had to be soiled by this controversy, assuming you were actually watching an awards ceremony that thinks it’s acceptable to call Eclipse the best movie of the year … sorry, that was a distraction from the real insult to our intelligence: someone used a dirty word.
There’s no call for that, is there? I know that every time I get tipsy and ramble on about what a cocksucker my boss is, and how your mother’s a whore, I feel awful for using that kind of language in front of you, my bright boy. You’re a smart lad, and smart people don’t resort to using foul language.
I’ve always considered you more refined and intelligent than other kids, haven’t I? That’s why I let you start watching classic movies from my day like Predator, Die Hard and Goodfellas when you were eight. I wish I’d had the time or interest in watching those classics with you, but I assumed you understood them and would’ve come to me with questions if you hadn’t. The fact that you didn’t just showed me you’re sharper than all the other kids in your classes.
And the way you practically raised yourself by spending so much time on the world’s greatest study tool, the Internet, without even hassling me for perspective or help with your homework or to poke holes in popular misconceptions … that just makes me proud that my own scion is so self-sufficient.
You’ve never even asked me for money, which I really appreciate, because I don’t really want to give you any. I don’t know how you’re fending for yourself these days, but in the worst recession in American history, it’s really something that you’ve been able to do it. Maybe you can tell me your secrets sometime! You’re always locked away in your room studying, burning that pungent, spicy incense to help keep you awake; you even bought all of those weird night lights to save electricity and keep studying. If I ever talked about you to my co-workers, I’d tell them how proud I am of my enterprising young man, who was cruelly assaulted by Reese Witherspoon and her fresh mouth and her awful, brutal language.
And, if I may, I have to pride myself a little on being such a non-invasive parent. I knew that — with no experience or background for comparison whatsoever — you were able to raise yourself up from the ignorance of childhood and cultivate your own intelligence and worldliness. I like to think I made all the right decisions along the line, and had faith in you that you could do it without my help.
Mungo, my dear Mungo. I’ve never been as proud of you as I am right now, nor as okay with the fact that that cheap condom broke on me 16 years ago and forced me to spend the rest of my life with that harpy you call mother, who daily uses my financial resources to shop, spend and thirty-percent-tip me into the poorhouse. At least this endless misery I call my life has produced a fine, upstanding lad who is smart enough to avoid my mistakes and doesn’t crumble into dust when some future has-been goes on a badly-produced award show on a channel that hasn’t been hip in 20 years and uses profanity, the fucking bitch.
As a quick aside, though, Mungo … I’m very proud that you were able to date such a beautiful young lady like Mia, but don’t you think it’s time you broom her before she gets any dumpier? I saw her the other day rushing out of your bedroom with you when I came home unexpectedly for lunch, and I couldn’t believe how fat she’s gotten! Her clothes were straining against that belly of hers. And she’s so bowlegged all of a sudden. My boy can do better than that, can’t he? Just one look at her swollen ankles was enough to put me off of my mid-day beer.
Anyway, back to the point: I’ve been a supportive, loving parent and you have turned into an exceptional young man. There’s no need for you to hear words like “motherf—er” on TV. Sometimes I think this country is just turning to anarchy. Hopefully, you weren’t actually watching the show and were watching some of those cartoons you used to like, or whatever it is 16 year-olds do these days. You’re part of a generation that has grown up with the Internet and been able to document every moment of your lives, because there are cameras on everything and you all think you’re endlessly fascinating. Surely you’re using the technology at your disposal to improve life for us all, to study and share cultures, to find people around the world and learn from them and maybe teach them a little something about tolerance. You don’t have time for things like petty squabbles, foul language and a limitless supply of free pornography.
You kids are the future!
So ignore Reese Witherspoon and her casual swearing. You have a nation to fix. And we’re just assuming you know that and know how to do it.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at email@example.com.