Last night we were gathered around the fire listening to the Bare Naked Ladies' Christmas album. Their version of Feed the World came on. With all due respect to the Naked Ladies, I couldn't leave my kids in the dark on the true origins of that song. Out came computer, and You Tube too, We watched and we learned and were warmed by its light 'til our fancies were tickled on that cold winter's night.
Feed the World led to We Are the World--America's lamer but more soulful attempt. Hairdos aside, I'm still a fan of both songs. My kids were really startled by Boy George. I explained him to them. But they kept asking if every guy was a girl--even the handsome and manly ones, like Simon Le Bon. I saw for the first time--through my children's eyes--how womanish men were in the 80s. Even Bruce Springsteen was wearing lip gloss.
They were laughing at Michael Jackson's girlishness and even though I am full aware of his objectionableness in the new millennium, I had to defend him. I had to make them see that back in the day, he was really something else. They had to know his history, even though it makes the current state of Michael Jackson affairs all the more tragic. "Guys, when I was your age I LOVED Michael Jackson. Everyone did. It's not unreasonable--he's very talented!" So I showed them his first moonwalk on the Motown Special. Dudes! Do you remember watching that? I must have been 10. We all thought it was some kind of trick--a conveyor belt in the floor? My kids were impressed. Then I was like, "Do you guys know about Thriller?" So we watched that and some clips from 13 Going on 30 so they would understand the cultural significance. I told them they would be expected to know the moves at high school dances. I don't know if that's true, but it certainly can't hurt. By the time we got to Alien Ant Farm's Smooth Criminal I felt that I had accomplished a lot.
So the kids went off to do whatever and I kept watching old music videos. Was MTV your Disney Channel? Answer these questions to find out:
If a 3-D drawn hand beckoned to you from the comic book you were reading, would you follow it into the comic book?
Would you be amenable to a make-over by the ZZ Top girls?
Do you love, hate, or want to be Martha Quinn?
Who's more down home, John Cougar or Bruce Springsteen?
Who would win in a fight, John Cougar or Spandeau Ballet? (hahahahah, just joking.)
Who would you be more afraid to date in 1980, Michael Jackson or David Lee Roth? How about in 2008?
Who should teach your 6th grade Maturation program, Tawny Kitaen or Boy George? (Tawny would have more facts but Boy George would probably be more tactful).
What cautionary tale encourages chastity? Angel is the Centerfold, Billie Jean, or Jack and Diane?
Who wore high wasted pegged cargo pants better: Simon Le Bon or Sting?
Who is more suicidal: Robert Smith of The Cure or Morrisey?
Whose headbands are flashier: Olivia Newton John's or Clarence Clemons' of the E Street Band?
Who is more exquisite, Janet or Michael Jackson?
Which video best describes your academic experiences: Hot for Teacher or Don't Stand So Close to Me?
Who do you want on your team, Siouxsie or Sinead? (Trick question--the correct answer is Blondie.)
Who would you restore to their 80s prime: Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson?
Who do you want to be when you grow up?
How did you actually turn out?
PS I just watched the MJ clip again with my daughter who laughed through the whole thing. "So, you don't think this is even a little bit cool?" I asked. "Well, it's mostly just funny," she giggled. To which I bitterly replied, "WELL SLASH DOESN'T SEEM TO THINK SO AND YOU CAN'T EVEN BEAT HIM ON GUITAR HERO."