Julie Seedorf: Let’s be honest about changes in the world

Published 9:13 am Monday, August 8, 2016

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.

We have come a long way since the day Elvis Presley, gyrated on the “Ed Sullivan Show” on Sept. 9, 1956. I remember at the young age of 6, listening to my parents being shocked at what happened. After all, the “Ed Sullivan Show” was a family show, and the movement of those hips shocked the nation.

I remember when “All in the Family” premiered in 1971 and became one of the most popular television shows, probably because of its content, touching subjects that previously weren’t aired on television, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s lib, rape, religion and more.

Email newsletter signup

I remember watching television and the news after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. That is the first time in my lifetime I remember almost non-stop news coverage, pre-empting programs.

Television and music back in the ’50s and ’60s weren’t necessarily the idyllic time we would like to portray. I did  not like the “Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason. I always despised his disrespectful attitude towards his wife and women. We all know “Leave It To Beaver” and “Ozzie and Harriet” pictured the perfect family we all wanted to be, but in reality where many families seemed to have that perfect ’50s lifestyle, the secrets were kept hidden to portray something different to the public.

A conversation with a friend this week sparked my thoughts on music and life in the olden days that we all like to portray as better times then we live in right now.

Music started the conversation. We were ether naïve or not so tuned in to the meaning of lyrics in those days as we were to the catchy tunes. My friend brought up the lyrics to the song “Lola” by the Kinks. How many times did we sing and dance to that song, not realizing that the lyrics were about a romantic encounter between a transvestite and a young man who meet in a club in London. This song was released June 28, 1970, in the United States. There was controversy, and the song was banned in Australia and some radio stations in the U.S. faded the track out before Lola’s biological sex was revealed. That is the information I found on Wikipedia. I had to look it up because I had no idea the song that was so popular when I was young was controversial, and neither did my friend.  We concluded the reason we never gave it any thought was because we didn’t have all the social media and 24/7 news we have today pointing it out to us. That subject matter was not even on our radar. It was kept hidden from us.

Today we have controversy over transgender use of bathrooms because of the overwhelming media scaring us into being afraid. In my own community we had a transgender person in the ’70s. It wasn’t talked about. It was kept hidden. We have been using bathrooms with transgender people for many years. You just weren’t aware of it, and you couldn’t tell the difference.

The same could be said for sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic abuse at home. In those days if we would have said something about sexual harassment in the workplace, it wouldn’t have been taken seriously, so we kept silent.

Another friend of mine recounts how after years of domestic abuse from her father towards her mother and children, they fled in the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs. Calling the authorities in those days settled nothing, and domestic abuse was not always taken seriously either with the “boys will be boys” attitude. Again, in the idyllic time of the ’50s and ’60s domestic abuse and sexual harassment in the workplace were swept under the table.

The one thing I like about my friend is that we can agree to disagree, listen to each other’s opinions and still stay friends. After our music discussion,                                             our conversation turned to the elections and we again shook our heads at the bombardment of the news all day, every day, on the internet with so many unscrupulous sites reporting untruths about both candidates. Our conversation covered all the blame and accusations of candidates being liars and their lives now being an open book, making it hard for all of us to separate what is fact and fiction in this election. We turned our conversation to the past and the fact the leaders we had in the ’50s and ’60s, who are held in reverence because of their contributions to our country, today would not hold up to scrutiny. There was an unwritten law back then that the media respected their privacy and the public only knew what they wanted us to know. They had just as many flaws and foibles as today’s candidates and politicians, but we were kept in the dark about it and the work they did in office didn’t get muddied and they didn’t have to spend valuable time defending their personal lives because they were not non-stop in the news. We had news at certain times a day and that was it. We were able to live our lives without always being distracted by the latest “whoops” by whoever was in office.

Turning on my computer this morning, I looked at the headlines. I don’t care about celebs in their underwear. I don’t care that Orlando Bloom was fully nude on a beach day with Katie Perry. I don’t care that a scantily-clad Astros fan wowed the internet with her homemade attire. I don’t care that people are having a meltdown over Selena Gomez’s sweatpants. These were some of the headlines today.

We are too interested in that which does not matter, and not interested enough in that which does, such as poverty, sex-trafficking, which is happening in our rural communities, domestic abuse and all those subjects that are easier to ignore, while spending our time being a voyeur in celebrities lives and taking part in the viral hate spewing, saying things online we wouldn’t say in person to anyone.

I guess I could blame Elvis for the start of the breakdown of G-rated America. Did it start with the swivel of his hips? Or I could blame Ed Sullivan for being brave enough to break the rules when it wasn’t popular. He probably took some heat for having Elvis on his show.

My friend and I concluded the difference between then and now isn’t the social problems that are happening. They were always there simmering underneath the “Leave It To Beaver” lifestyle the media portrayed back then. It was happening then, and it’s happening now. But today we have gone too far the other way with our brains being bombarded all day with more news than we can comprehend, and it makes us fearful, anxious and tired. It is hard to sort fact from fiction for all of us, and especially our young people. My conversation with my friend was the best conversation of my week. We didn’t solve anything, but our dialogue brought forth new awareness and that is what honest conversation between friends will do, provoke dialogue which will rock our world and change our lives.