The first time I listened to Kanye West, I was in the 5th grade. “Gold Digger” had just become so immensely popular that its impact was trickling down to the 11-year-olds on Putnam Soccer Association. We had a huge tournament in Boston– yes, yes, this wasn’t some travel team. I, Avery, played premier soccer. (So basically I played pre-varsity soccer. Or more like, junior-junior-junior-junior varsity…and you thought I hated sports! Actually (inner parenthesis: I did hate sports, even then.)) Anyway, back to the point, Mr. West.
The song was on the radio, and I kind of liked it. Maybe because it talked about a Gold Digger, which is a very fascinating concept to a newly-minted tween. Or maybe because every. Single. Parent. Changed the channel on us. It was the first song I’d listened to that was immediately censored by everyone around me. In fact, when I got to school the next Monday, our ‘advisors,’ a ridiculous term for homeroom teachers, gave each of us chats about the song. I was told that it was not appropriate. What?!
I get very quickly and easily disturbed by people claiming that something is inappropriate and shouldn’t be listened to, read, watched, whatever. On the same vein, when my little sister recently went to our local bookstore, she was denied a copy of “The Hunger Games.” She’s apparently too young to read it…She’s twelve. It’s an insanely popular book, and it’s no worse than what she catches on the covers of newspapers.
Here’s the bottom line: Everyone is going to find out about everything at some point. Delaying it in these ways takes away the possibility for a conversation between adults and children. Instead, encourage discussion. At least give an explanation for what you feel merits censorship.