Broadening horizons.

Any other person who’s experienced this is going to recognize this situation almost immediately.

I present to you an ordinary day in my college life going to the language lab to work on French, nice people work there, friendly.

I need to watch a movie, so the person at the desk gets me the catalog. I look through and note one of the movies was one I saw mentioned in y course material, but then I also noted aloud “Oh, but it’s rated R.” At which point I got the look, you know the one, the slightly incredulous/amused look. “You’re in college, I think you could watch an R-rated movie,” she says. To which I replied that I did not really like R-rated content. Indifferently, she said “Well I think you need to broaden your horizons, girl, because it’s really good.” I read the description and it sounded all right. I have certain themes I’ll sit through an R-rated movie for, and at least with R, you know to expect certain scenes and avoid them, unlike PG-13 which can sneak them in when you weren’t looking.Oh, but Natasha, it’s not real.

Yes, they aren’t actually pretending for the camera, they totally aren’t actually touching and kissing, they aren’t actually nude, that’s all CGI now!

(IT’s not CGI, by the way, in case you were wondering if I’m serious. I know not everyone who reads this lives in America, and perhaps the standards are different other places, but here it’s quite ridiculous.

Needless to say, this lady irritated me, but for lack of any real knowledge of French films beyond the terrible one I watched in class (and I was embarrassed by that) I decided to give it a try.

And it eared the R-rating, rather unnecessarily, I thought. It had little to do with the plot. But whatever, I tried to not look whenever I knew what was coming.

The lady also said I seemed kind of judgy as I was looking through the catalog and commenting that one film was probably more depressing in French. (It was Dead Poet’s Society, which is sad already, so it was a joke because French films are known for their sad endings.)

Judgy?

Let me clarify, to me judgy means not simply knowing your own tastes (as I do) but declaring other people’s to be inherently bad because they do not meet your standards, and your standards are based on a sense of self importance, not simple conviction that something is bad to consume.

No one would call it judgy if I chose not to eat McDonald’s but no one would think it was okay for me to say eating there is some kind of crime.

However, man people would be more concerned if I smoked, and not nearly as many would call it judgy to decry it, since it is proven to be harmful.

By the way, have you heard that nobody actually smokes? It’s the cigarette who smokes, the person is the sucker. (Not an original joke on my part.)

Anyway, the point here is that this lady was being kind of judgy of me for commenting on these movies. But my annoyance only increased when I brought the film back and she asked how it was. I admitted I liked it (as in, it was not torture, I don’t think I’d watch it again, it was weird.) She said smugly (though not meanly) “I knew you would. See, you just need to broaden your horizons.” I replied quietly that my standards are based on experience, which I tried to explain before, but she only returned that I should “live life.”

On my way back to my car I though over this and got more annoyed. Broaden my horizons! Spoken with all the confidence of someone who knows nothing about me and what I watch.

Is it really the same thing for me to be skeptical of movies? I can objectively guess what will be in an R-rated film, and if I don’t want to subject myself to it, that is my choice and preference. It’s not that I have never tried it, it is that I have, and found much lacking.

I’ll just say it now: R-rated movies are by and large the most unimaginative, cheap, lazily written, and immoral films I have risked watching. I’m not about to get deeper into it by checking rated X stuff to see if it’s worse, this is bad enough.

R-rated movies substitute swearing for character development; sex for relationship building and two people finding out about each other, which your average crap teen flick will at least try to do; and violence for stakes.

The hard rating and shocking material allows filmmakers to get away with the worst kind of writing, and no one cares, because if they honestly had standards, they would not be watching.

I still remember keenly my disappointment when I watched Children of a Lesser God, a famous movie in the ASL world, and screenplay…and instead of character development, I got them shacking up for half the film and yelling at each other, but neither of them really knew the other well enough for it to feel like a real relationship.

So, one language research movie being such a disappointment, coupled with how much I disliked the other french film I saw, made me skeptical to just assume it would be good.

It was decent.

But the lady who spoke to me honestly would not have cared even if it wasn’t, to her, the whole point was my narrow mindedness, had I hated it, she would have been undeterred because she would have assumed I was too critical–not that I knew what I did like and got exactly what I expected.

Her whole manner was of the sort that your annoying babysitter took with you back in elementary: the superior, more experienced, worldly-wise person, to the young naive, child with overprotective parents.

Are my parents overprotective? I’ve never thought so, I know non-Christian with more protective parents than me. My parents have never stopped me for watching movies I am old enough to watch, if I so choose, my dad used to let my sister watch movies with him that were way too old for them. Which is how they ended up knowing the plot of several adult movie before me, I was always sensitive to disturbing content, like my mom before me.

In my house that was respected. And my dad also realized that just because he likes that stuff did not make it good for him, he’s revised his standards  a lot over the years.

People in this country tend to have an assumption about my type of person. They think we are just too innocent to know how we sound. I am perhaps lucky to get this instead of what my unfortunate peers often get, bullied for being snobs.

My countenance and good manners tend to get me put into the too angelic category of sheltered. The one where they don’t blame you, but think you need to break out of it and not assume you were taught the right thing (and any notion that you could have come to your own conclusions is thrown out immediately. As you can see, even when I told the lady this, she continued to believe I was simply narrow in what I tried.)

Now, if I was mean…or had a more unreserved temper…I could definitely have made this lady think I was the other kind: the pedantic, self-righteous snob sheltered person. They are still discredited, but they just have a manner that makes people more inclined to get mad at them instead of be tolerantly condescending.

I knew I couldn’t change her mind either way. I could only convince her I was crazy on top of it all.

But the whole episode reminded me that I have been treated like this time and gain by various people my entire life. It happened as early on as age 4-5 by my relatives, and still continues this day from some of them, though they now know me to be more assertive so the  belittling tone has disappeared, my family is not cruel enough to be mean on purpose. But that does not stop other people who meet me from treating me the same.

Since I am usually established as a nice girl early one in my acquaintance with anyone I usually get the benefit of the doubt, they assume I am judgy because I have never tired to experience anything else. Probably because my parents topped me. joke’s on them, I got exposed to more things because of my dad than by any other person I know. He had his reasons.

I don’t consider myself judgy. I had times when I was in the past, but I criticize things now based on what I’ve seen of them. I am extremely good at predicting patterns however, so if my instinct says “this is going to get bad” I generally believe, and I’m rarely wrong.

Come to think of it, the people who have always treated me as sheltered never actually got any proof that I was. Other than I don’t know what a lot of TV shows and movies are. I once got told Twilight was a great series by just some such people. Who were all of two years older than me at most, one was a year younger, but they actually bullied me because I was so sheltered.

The real proof of it was I didn’t catch on till the last day, but that had much more to do with not being used to people being  cruel to me than to not reading those stupid books. As if Twilight prepares anyone for real world experiences, ha!

Other Christians have treated met hat way too, they never seem to see the sad irony of doing so.

As a kid, I was telling y sister, I was really a firecracker. She remembers our spirited (to put it nicely) fights, I remember sassing my parents, and standing up to way older people than me whenever I considered it necessary. Was I always right, no, a lot of the times I wasn’t. The point is, I was hardly the little angel these “broaden your horizons” people would imply.

If I though it was worth it, I could have been exposed to more mature content earlier if I chose to be.

It often surprises people after they have known me a while to learn that I am not afraid to declare my opinion, even if it’s unpopular, and that instead of being cowed by debate, I get more emboldened by it.

The truth is, I can take anything except that condescending belittlement of being treated like too naive to get it.

And y guess is, the people who use it have met enough people like me to know that it is most effective in shutting us down. It is unfair, to be sure, but their fear of us makes them wish to put us off.

It’s funny to me how people either act surprised when I say I can be opinionated, or say “yeah, I could see that.”

You know though, my personality is not really the point. Someone could be a meek and mild person, but just as firm in their convictions, and have good reasons for them; they would still be discredited.

I feel I was done a disservice by other members of the church who treated me this way. Though I deal with the same temptations myself sometimes around kids. My Sunday school calls me out for suing words they are told are rude (though they are not cuss words.) I am trying to respect that, since I know how I felt when I was their age. There are few things worse to a christian kid then when their Sunday school teacher does not uphold the values they are taught.

Anyway, this was a lot more of a rant than I meant it to be, but I think there’s some good points in there, it boils down to respect.

I don’t expect respect from the world for my beliefs, but it is difficult to tolerate the scarecrow they set up in my place that they can then ignore or knock over as they choose, since it is not actually what  I think, and I guess I would like to encourage other people who have had this experience not to assume these people are right.

Being sheltered is a paradox anyway, in some ways we are exposed to far more than the average kid in America…but that is not true for other countries. Someday I might have to compare notes with someone who grew up in Africa and see just how much more they saw than the average public-schooler. I already know stuff that would shock you.

Anyway, until next time–Natasha.

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