Ask Exene: What the Hell Are My Kids Listening To?
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice--on your love life, politics, your musical career, Armageddon, filial relationships, anxiety over 2012--send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As someone who likes to think of myself as a "cool mom," I rarely put much restriction on the kind of music my kids listen to. Growing up in an uptight, Christian household, I remember having to basically smuggle my Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and other old rock records past my parents and listen with headphones when they weren't around. These days, as a mom with two teenagers, I'm totally okay with letting my kids listen to whatever they want, allowing them to discover new music, phases and friends. Unfortunately that happens to be bass-pumping electronic music, trance, dubstep, etc. Aside from the sound (which I personally think is total crap), I'm also worried about the lack of substance in terms of a message in the music. And despite being considered today's cutting edge music, I don't really find most of it to be super rebellious. The scene and the massive parties that go along with it are another story.
Both my kids, in their late teens, are more interested in the party scene and don't really have many answers when I ask them how the music effects them personally. The last thing I want to do is force them to hide their music from me. Is there anything I can or should do to steer them to some better music without coming off too pushy? Despite all my efforts, am I just starting to sound too much like a typical parent?
They will probably tire of that music and the party scene. It's all designed to suck in the young, but even being young can get old. And you could have worse problems than not liking the music they like. They are just having fun, mindless fun maybe, maybe not. You don't say if they do well in school, or do drugs and drink, or if they have other interests, talents, or goals, so i don't know really if the music and partying presents a big problem to you or them.
But what I do know is: Rock-n-roll, the 60's bands, punk, hip-hop, etc., are all forms of music that confront reality, confront hypocrisy, educate the listener and, more importantly, involve and evolve the listener. That's what all good art does and that's why we make art and music.
Music and culture that is manufactured as an escape from reality is a whole 'nother thing. With all these pressures and problems looming in the world, why aren't your kids rebelling? The job of youth is to rebel, to overthrow the old and find themselves and be creative and have big ideas, and build their own culture and fight anyone who says they can't.
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