Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Afternoon Thinking Project: Hagler Versus Hearns--"You Are Too Young For This Fight. Violence Like This Could Hurt Your Soul..."

As we do on some Saturdays, let's reflect on that sweetest of sweet sciences.

With all the dust-up regarding Amy Chua's "Tiger Mom" thesis on Chinese mothers and their "unique" parenting skills, I have been thinking about my formative years. My parents were not perfect (whose are?) Nevertheless, in my humble opinion they did a good deal right. Sometimes this was intentional (my dad telling me that you can have any woman you want if you make her realize how beautiful she is). Other times the life lesson was accidental and unintended (my mom waiting outside in the rain for 8 hours to see Return of the Jedi with me, simply because she promised to do so months before).

Ultimately, there is no universal manual for how to be a good parent. Doctor Spock may help some. But, advice about the aggregate does not necessarily help you raise your own kids given their own unique souls, personalities, needs, wants, dreams, and desires. As a qualifier, I do not have children. But if I have taken any of what I learned from my mom and dad (as well as those of my dearest friends), the lesson seems to be that you have to let folks find their own way--even while you guide them through ownership of their errors, misdeeds, and mistakes.

Thus, to the destination signaled to by the legendary Hagler-Hearns bout...

My dad was a funny guy. He left porn around the house for me to find because he was worried that I read too much and wasn't chasing the ladies enough. In fact, one of my fondest masturbatory memories was finding Black Tail in Prison Volume 6 on top of the VCR one Monday morning. By the way, the fight he had with my mom that evening regarding the corruption of my soul is a close second for my funniest memory of all time.

I was also allowed to read whatever I liked. Why? Because knowledge is power. Moreover, I could see whatever movie I wanted to as long as I gave my parents a report about its content. Likewise, there were no restrictions on what music I listened to as long as I could explain its aesthetic qualities--either positive or negative--to my parents.

I was also allowed to watch classic Eddie Murphy era Saturday Night Live. Lest we forget that before he sold out and made movies for the preteen set, Eddie was THAT dude. I will never forget coming into the den that evening while my parents were watching the legendary skit in which Eddie Murphy pitched over sized diaphragms in a faux infomercial. My mom yelled at me to go back to bed because the skit was too adult for me. My dad said, "let the boy stay, it's just sex."

Some months later I wandered to the den again. It was about midnight or so and the fight between Hagler and Hearns was on the TV (to this day I do not know how he got that next evening bootleg in an era well before pay-per-view). I was wide-eyed and excited. Wearing my GI JOE pajamas I sat down in the recliner and announced that I am going to make some of that old-school, cook on the range top, Jiffy Pop Popcorn and watch the fight.

Pops looked at me. He calmly (yet sternly) said, "You are too young for this fight. Violence like this could hurt your soul. If you watch this fight you will get old before you are ready."

I was annoyed and quite frankly pissed off. I could do whatever I wanted to, but I couldn't watch Hagler-Hearns? Give me a break! To a preteen who thought he was older than his years this was the worst of insults. Looking backwards from 2011 and watching the Hagler-Hearns fight with adult eyes I think my dad may have been right. Such is the wisdom of age.

You tell me: was pops right to shield a set of young and innocent eyes from the drama that was Hagler-Hearns? And how would you less than tiger moms and tiger dads have handled said situation?


Plane Ideas said...


I am very close to 60 and I have 2 adult children with college and law degrees from Howard,UM, NYU Law..

I allowed my kids to read, worship,touch,talk,watch,listen,ask, question anything and everything..

When adults were talking sometimes they could stay and observe and offer up insight during our parenting we did engaged in age appropriate intervention but rarely..

Certain words and behavior were not allowed in the house, no one was allowed to call each other stupid or dumb and no one was allowed to ridicule another person or peer..

Your parent's from my little insight were superb parents unlike you pops however I would my kids watch boxing matches but no porn .

We were not tiger mom/dad parents but our best practices was about supreme self esteem and supreme attitude as parents believed this was the formula for life for our kids when we were not in the room and have left the building and they entered the world on their own..

Incomes create Outcomes...

CNu said...

You tell me: was pops right to shield a set of young and innocent eyes from the drama that was Hagler-Hearns?

in the era of MMA violence in Hi-Def - Hagler and Hearns seems like a quaint and nostalgic flash back into an energetic - but ultimately very constrained - gentlemen's disagreement.

bring em up right yo, cause what's coming ain't no joke....,

chaunceydevega said...

@Thrasher. That is part of the problem today. Too many parents, helicopter parents for snowflakes don't know how to let them just be and that the ultimate complement in allowing your children to grow into independence.

@Oh Crap. I know I sound quaint, like someone railing against Superman cartoons in the 1950s. But how violence has changed. I say we should just bring back the gladiatorial games and do it to death.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

I personally think the violence of boxing is much more honest than that in an average football or hockey game, where it has become pure entertainment. Just thinking about Chucky Mullins, Joe Thiesman, and Tim Krumrie's injuries makes me sick to my stomach. Then again, I'm one of the dwindling number of boxing fans out there.

But...I am with your Dad that it is better to shield one's children from violence than from sex.

Dr. Becky said...

Your folks sound like my kind of people. I think your Dad was on the right track, thinking about your development and not wanting to promote aggression.

My parents couldn't be more different as white hippie parents rearing me in the seventies(well my mother was doing so, at least - my Dad was a junkie for most of that decade) . Sex was never taboo, but my mum was super-strict regarding TV shows that she deemed to be "demeaning" to women. So Three's Company Love Boat, Dukes of Hazard were all banned in my house. I now have a young son and I am debating some of the issues around violence in sport with my partner. I'm not really worried about him watching vioence in sport - I just don't want him to play sports where there is a potential for violence and serious brain injury. Helicopter parent I am not, but as Bear states above the injuries professional atheletes experience are frightening.

chaunceydevega said...

@Werner. You know my libertine attitudes given our years of conversation and friendship. But "honest" violence. Please explain.

@Becky. How do you balance being a helicopter parent and a good involved parent? Why do some nay fail on the regard?

fred c said...

I get the honest violence reference. Football and Hockey have elaborate rules and goals unrelated to the incidental violence in the games, but, especially in Hockey, the violence cart is pulling the game horse. Boxing is a fight, two men. (I don't approve of women's boxing.) Sure there are rules, but the goal is to put the other guy down. Without the need to dress it up as a "game," the violence is honest.

By the way, your parents sound like a dream to many of us, who can only imagine what it would be like to have parents who gave a damn.

dr. becky said...

Hey CD - Very good questions. I think the balance is a tricky dance. From what I have surmised so far the point is to allow children the freedom to explore, to fail, and to make mistakes in order to build confidence and independence, rather than tracking their every move. I really do think part of the reason parents right now are so neurotic has to with the mediated mass panics about child abuse and abduction. No doubt times have changed, but kids still need to be kids. About 30 years ago I was taking the subway by myself starting at the age of 6. If you tired that out now you'd probably get arrested. But I know kids in the city who are teenagers and have never been out without a chaperone. Ridiculous!

And aside from all this Tiger Mom/Girzzly Mama nonsense there are actually 'parenting styles' or prototypes from psychology - authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. I'm aiming for the latter, and will adopt my late Mum's mantra: "You don't have to like me - I'm your mother, not your friend."

chaunceydevega said...

@Fred C. Please don't encourage my mother's outsized sense of self-importance ;)

@Dr. Becky. You didn't know that every child is so special and amazing and wonderful that folks are laying in wait to kidnap them? And then when they are in college they are wonderful snowflakes, incapable of doing any wrong?

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

To answer your question Chauncey, I'll just echo what fred c said. Hockey and football fans (of which I count myself) often enjoy the hits, and in the case of hockey, the fights. Boxing matches are violent but the boxers are doing something much more subtle and skillfull than two hockey players beating the crap out of each other. Football players have their lives cut short and ruined by injuries. In boxing no one pretends that the athletes involved aren't putting themselves at risk. Yet boxing has a social stigma attached to it, while the NFL drapes itself in red, white and blue. College football players risk life and limb without payment; at least boxers are handsomely rewarded for the risks they take.