Thursday, May 22, 2014

the naked truth

I love myself some Netflix. Like, an unhealthy amount of Netflix.

It all started with Breaking Bad, then morphed slowly into Sherlock Holmes (holy God, Benedict Cumberbatch is a delicious dish) and then, magically, I found myself getting into documentaries.

It's like a drug. I can't stop. They're just so damn interesting, and usually pretty harmless. I mean, it's cool to learn how coo coo some people are, in the case of "Jesus Camp." And a tornado wouldn't have stopped me from finishing "Man on a Wire." But at the end of the day, these documentaries are just interesting fodder to get me through a boring Wednesday night.

Until I watched "Talhotblond."

You guys.

Watch it. And then go find your teenage SD (or biological one) and super glue her shorty-short wearing booty to the couch and watch it with her. I'm not kidding. Pry her eyes open with toothpicks if you have to. If you can get Hubs to watch with you, even better, though it will probably disturb him even more than you. And if you have a teenage stepson? Let him in on the action, too.

"Talhotblond" is the true story of how the internet, false identites and chat rooms can go terribly, terribly, wrong. I'll be honest, there are some cheesy reenactments that could have been handled better and it drags a bit in the middle. But stick with it. It's an important film, and one that will be sealed into their brain forever.

(In the same way that "Requiem For a Dream" kept me from ever, ever, ever trying drugs. Or diet pills.)

Look, we live in a very new and different world. (I've talked about this before.) It's still even new to us as adults, so imagine what it's like for the younger generation. As teens, they think they have the internet/texting/social media all figured out. I mean, how hard can it be? 

My 13 year old SD, M, always laughs when I ask her, "Do you know every single person from your Instagram?" 

"Of course I know them all," M
replies, rolling her eyes and texting furiously. "I'm not stupid enough to accept a request from someone I don't know."

"You know them, as in, you've personally met every single person on your Instagram account? Every single one? All 579 of them?" I ask back, doubt in my eyes. 

(Incidentally, I knew maybe 65 people when I was her age. And I'm including dead relatives and teachers. And my Sunday School teacher.)

"YES, RUBY!" she responds, then shrugs her shoulders. "I mean, some of them are just from other schools, but I still know who they are through friends. And obviously I don't actually KNOW Katy Perry, but it's her Instagram account."


She doesn't know them. She probably hasn't even laid eyes on over half of them. And quite frankly, who knows if Katy Perry is really Katy Perry? Maybe Katy Perry's Instagram is run by some beer guzzling, 49 year old man with an erectile dysfunction and a complete set of Star Wars action figures. My stepkid would never know.

(No offense to Katy Perry, I'm sure she runs her own account. It's just an example.)

My point is, kids do not think the way we do. And they shouldn't; that's our job. Kids aren't wired to see all the angles because they've never been exposed to them. Here's how I explained it to my SD that I think finally made sense to her:

Ask a three year to count as high as she can. She'll tell you, "egg."

Ask a 7 year old, and they'll puff out their chest and be all, "Ready? The answer is fifty nine billion, six hundred zillion, four thousand and one billion and six. OOH! And one!"

Ask a 15 year old to name the biggest number possible and they'll say, "Duh, there isn't one. Just infinity." And then they'll flip you off and ignore you until they get hungry.

My point is this. As a teen on the internet, you're still in the "egg" phase. You can't comprehend what exists out there. Teenagers don't fathom that sick, twisted people exist and create fake identities and prey on ignorant children.

That's why movies like "Talhotblond" are so important. Hubs and I can preach to M all day long about the dangers of letting strangers, specifically online strangers, into her world. But we're her parents. What the hell do we know? At least through a documentary, M knows we had nothing to do with the information being presented. She knows that this actually happened. And it's served to her on an easy-to-understand and relatively interesting platter. 

With even some curse words thrown in.

DISCLAIMER: There is sexual content in the film. Not visual at all, but it is written. But really, do you think your teenager hasn't heard worse on the school bus?

Give "Talhotblond" a try and let me know what you think. Will you watch it with your SD or SS? I know I am. 

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