A girl at a computer
Life

The Time Has Come to Let Your Kids Run Wild Online

Time for your weekly edition of Drew Magary's Funbag. Today, we're talking about visors, mattresses, ALL CAPS, PG movies, and more.
May 13, 2020, 6:00pm

Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew's new novel while you're at it. Your letters:

Dustin:

I was listening to an episode of the Deadcast while doing dishes or some such shit in the kitchen when, unbeknownst to me, my seven-year-old wandered in just in time to overhear you dropping a big fat F-bomb. She dutifully informed me I should not be listening to such foul language in her presence, but it got me thinking: If she's smart enough to know what is and is not a "bad word", do I really have to watch myself around her anymore? She seems to understand which words she should or should not be saying, so what good does it do for me to censor myself? I've clearly already fulfilled my social obligation to make sure she realizes she probably shouldn't go around saying "Fuck you" or "Eat shit" all the time, so I'd say my job is done here. Thoughts?

Your job is done. I've been casually swearing more around the house since quarantine started, and it hasn't really made much of a difference. In fact, it's probably better for my kids to hear me curse gently from time to time. That way, it balances out all the times I curse strictly because I'm pissed. FUCK and SHIT are gorgeous words. It's important for children to hear them in all their proper contexts. That's good learnin'.

I'm letting more things go now. Soon after quarantine started, my wife and I agreed that the 14-year-old could stand to watch more R-rated movies. Quality-wise, R movies have a higher batting average than PG and PG-13 movies, so not only would it help my daughter's CINEMATIC EDUCATION, but it meant that we could watch better shit together. Besides, she hears all that shit from her friends and from TikTok every five seconds. She's not a stranger to the profane arts, even if she rarely curses herself around the house. She can watch naughty things. She needs to, given how criminally neutered PG-13 movies are now. When's the last time a PG-13 movie had a boob in it? 1990?

The girl wasted no time and got me and the wife into Outer Banks. We were watching one episode as a trio and one dude on the show asked another dude, "Did you fuck her?" and my wife let out an OH! But then it passed without any further hand-wringing. I didn't cry out EAR MUFFS and then ban our daughter from watching the rest of the show. She had already binged the entirety of it before us anyway, and had done so in a single day.

I have to let a lot more things go because my kids' world has been essentially limited to the lot our home stands on. The only way out of this fucking house right now is with a phone, or with a TV, or with a laptop. I set up a Gmail account for the eight-year-old. I never would have done this if COVID hadn't struck. But he needs to see his friends, and he needed a Gmail to do video calls with them on Hangouts. Done. I also found out my daughter was e-hanging with people she had never met in person. Before this, I was adamant that the kids NEVER talk to strangers online. Every stranger online was either a Nazi or a child molester, as far as I was concerned. I would've rather they take candy from an actual stranger than trade DMs with a fucking Redditor. But she was e-hanging with kids from the next school over, so the degrees of separation were so minimal I let it slide. Because how the fuck else is she supposed to meet people right now? And all year long?

I represent the last generation of people who grew up without the Internet, and so my children are growing up in way that is completely fucking alien to my childhood experiences. I can't take my own upbringing from the 80s and 90s and assume that I can seamlessly graft those same processes onto them. They don't communicate the same way I did when I was a kid. They don't meet people the same way. They don't listen to music the same way. They don't fall in love the same way. The differences are so vast as to be incomprehensible. All that shit is different now, and I think a lot of moms and dads freak out BECAUSE it's so different. I know I did. But quarantine has made me accept the difference. This is their century to grow up in, not mine. I still won't them let watch YouTube vids from AryansLoveGamingPie or some other empty vessel, but otherwise I gotta let them live online a little.

Otherwise I'd be right there with the Puritans back in 1989 who thought letting kids watch fucking MTV was the end of the world. Imagine living through quarantine as a kid WITHOUT the Internet. Yeah yeah, people are mean online etc. But seriously, imagine not having it. You could only talk on the phone and mail each other letters and watch VHS tapes, like you're trapped at summer camp. That's an appealing concept to the artisanal Karens of this great nation. But in reality it would fucking blow. The web IS your social life now. It's probably the only thing keeping my kids from going full goth at the moment. I'm getting the 11 year old a phone sooner rather than later.

Will:

What's your favorite song of all time? Mine is "Interstate Love Song" by STP. It makes zero sense but god dammit if it doesn't get me going every time.

You know, I've been writing the column for over a decade and this is probably the simplest (in a good way) question I've ever gotten. Like, usually, my job is to ponder the hypothetical choice between eating a dead baby and eating a live puppy, but YOU, Will, just came out and asked me a normal-ass question. This is like speed dating! Anyway my answer is "Tilted" by Sugar, and here it is.

That song has never gotten old to me, and I first heard it 22 years ago. So I don't think it'll wear out of my rotation anytime soon. I have flings with other songs, of course. I still love that moment when you hear a new song and you're like OMG THIS IS THE BEST SHIT EVER and you play it 2,000 times in a row before, finally, fatigue sets in. But what's even cooler is songs that somehow defy that fatigue and just last, and last, and last. "Tilted" is one of mine. I'll still listen to old STP when I'm stoned, traveling in my mind back to the days when I couldn't get enough of it. But when I'm sober I'm pretty much past that.

"I Appear Missing" is also getting into my personal canon. It's a coma thing.

Joe:

Floppy, greasy NY pizza is trash. Square pizza is amazing because you end up eating twice as much with the smaller pieces and feeling like you're a giant (or a colossal glutton). I can't believe this is the opinion that finally caused me to write in.

Joe, I can't believe you'd have that opinion, either. I don't turn my nose up at square-cut pizza, but if you think I'm eating LESS pizza because I prefer wedge slices, you don't know me from the hole in your ass. I want my pizza floppy (I'm a folder) and I DEFINITELY want it greasy. The grease is the best part. I ain't doing the napkin sop-up like it's 2000. Gimme ALL of the rotten cheese oil. Shoot it into my spine. I don't need my pizza sliced like I'm throwing a birthday party for a 10-year old in Indiana.

Now if you're talking about SICILIAN style pizzas (or, as my obviously Italian ancestors call it, IL SICILIANO MANGIA), then maybe we can have a more civilized debate. I enjoy walking into a Joe Ray Vinny Mario's and ogling those big thick squares like I'm staring out an airplane window at massive crop lines in the earth. There are enough calories in a Sicilian-style pie to power a nuclear reactor. But I still need to fold. Can't fold a square. Too awkward.

Adam:

Somewhere along the line, visors got a bad rap, but I declare to you that it is undeserved. As a tennis player, I find them perfect for playing outdoor sports when you want maximum air circulation to stay cool, but also need to shield your eyes when sunglasses aren't the best option (sweat on the lenses, etc). Enter the topless hat. Anyway, visors are good. Fight me!

I won't fight you. Not in this economy, sir. I can't rebut your argument. Hats are hot, but the sun is also hot, too. A visor gives you the benefits of a hat without smothering the rest of your scalp. I have had this discussion with myself out in the open…

I'd wear a visor to render final judgment, but I don't own one. I just asked my wife if we had any I could try on and she looked at me like I was asking if we owned any shotguns. "You're VERY anti-visor," she told me. And this is true. HOWEVER, I'm also 43. No one is gonna mistake me for a teenage dipshit if I go rocking a visor. And I became a Robe Guy just a few months ago. Morphing into a Visor Guy who loses at poker games all the time is the next logical step for me after getting into Outer Banks. I'm willing to experiment. To be vi-curious, if you will.

Sean:

I'm moving with my fiancee to Rochester, Minn., for her job. I've lived in Pittsburgh, Philly, Knoxville and Columbus and only thing I know about the state is what I've read from you and seen during NHL or NFL games. Is winter really that bad, and do you have any pointers?

I like Minnesota winters much more than New England winters and even more so, at times, than Maryland winters. New England winters are dark and shitty. Maryland doesn't get enough snow to make winter sports a routine thing. Minnesota is colder than Belichick at a press conference but A) The sun always shines, B) There's always snow on the ground on ice on the lakes to play on, and C) Everyone there enjoys being cold and doesn't bitch about it. So no, winter in Minnesota ain't bad.

My only pointer is that you gear up properly. Normal winter clothes won't cut it. You're gonna have to Gore-Tex up your life by a solid 500%. But I would legit rather live in Minnesota again than any of the other four places you mentioned. We watched the Minnesota episode of Aerial America the other night and all I wanted to do was get in the fucking car and drive there. Sky-tinted water, baby. It's no lie. Be chill with the chill and you'll do fine.

Also, Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic. Probably useful to have nearby right about now.

Nate:

Once or twice a year I host out of town friends for tabletop gaming weekends. One time, one of them brought his own (not inflatable) mattress, which fine because I understand sleep needs. As he was packing up he tried to convince me to store his mattress in my house for the next time, which I thought was unreasonable and weird. Is there anything you'd feel comfortable storing for a friend in these situations? Surely not a whole mattress?

Yeah no, fuck that. A mattress? That's deranged. BUY A SLEEPING BAG, LOU. If someone wants me to store something for him these days, I'm gonna assume the item has 100 kilos of heroin stashed inside of it. Much too dangerous. Also, I would never store something for someone on the assumption they can come crash anytime they feel like it. I'd say that even if it weren't COVID season. I don't want constant houseguests. My mom and dad can visit anytime they like (except for right now because disease). But my buddy Carl? No. I draw the line at Carl. This isn't a hotel.

We used to have a bare mattress in our basement. It was old and we didn't know what to do with it so we put it in front of the TV for general chilling needs. That might strike you as trashy, because it is. But also, it's BITCHIN' to have a mattress sitting there when you wanna fire up some Rocket League. We finally got rid of the mattress last week. Maybe Nate up there can store it for us.

HALFTIME!

Zach:

When typing in all caps, is it better to use caps lock, or to just hold down the shift key for however long you're caps-ing? I always stick with shift because I feel like it allows me to better channel my anger during the physical act of typing.

I've been typing in occasional (okay, frequent) all caps for years and I'm not sure I ever noticed which way I do it. Lemme conduct an experiment right now, because I have a HYPOTHESIS. My hypothesis is that I hold the shift key down when I only want to do all caps for ONE word. But if I want to do a whole SENTENCE of all caps, then I use the caps lock. So lemme do a full sentence in all caps right now to test it out. WELL FUCK I JUST LED MYSELF, LIKE A GODDAMN WITNESS. I think my theory is correct, but when I notice how I'm typing, then it fucks with how I'm typing. So I can't necessarily trust the result right now. But I'm pretty sure I use the shift key most times and reach for the caps lock only when I know I don't wanna press shift for THAT long. When it's for a whole sentence, it's like trying to hold down a really tricky guitar chord.

This is what I get for never learning how to actually type. I still hunt and peck. I'm the fastest hunter and pecker (lol pecker) in the West, but still a lowly pecker all the same. In the future, your phone will be able to scan your mind and KNOW when you want all caps and when you don't. I look forward to that future. I look forward to ANY future right now, really. The present is ass.

Omar:

I'm 45, so truly an 80's kid. Can you think of anyone besides Tanya Roberts as being the queen of 80's PG movies? This gorgeous woman helped me become a man by showing her breasts in not one but two (!!)-PG rated movies. She first enthralled me in the Beastmaster and then followed that up with the even more gratuitous Sheena. How was this even possible for back then? Red Dawn was the first PG-13 movie released (Aug 10 th , 1984), yet Sheena came out one week after (Aug 17__th , 1984)? PG-13 was a result of outrage over violence in movies (Temple of Doom heart extraction scene, Kali ma…Kali ma shook da daa!!!) yet they let the breasts go unchecked. This brings up another question as to when did we then get desensitized to violence and turned on nudity towards ratings for movies?

I remember watching Beastmaster when I a kid too, but I was only eight years old when it was released so the sight of boobs in a movie freaked me out. Also, that movie has a scene where a sketchy enchanter magically teleports the insides of a pregnant lady into a cow. See it here in all its majesty:

I did NOT like watching that. I also watched a movie called Brainstorm back in 1983 and that was another PG movie that had boobs in it. I covered my eyes when the boobs appeared on screen because they scared me. That is, uh, no longer the case.

But you're right in that the standards for nudity in movies have completely changed since then, to the point where I'm jarred if I even see fucking cleavage in a PG movie. Remember when Katy Perry sang a duet with Elmo and parents freaked because her shirt was low cut? That was fucking insane. It wasn't like Katy pulled off the shirt and started swinging a pair of nipple tassels around. She just had the temerity to look good while singing next to a fucking puppet. Meanwhile you go to the UK and there are boobs on Page 3 of every newspaper. Those people have their goddamn priorities in order. We are the horniest country of prudes in the world. If there was more nudity in mainstream family programming, maybe incels wouldn't grow up so angry.

Violence has also been neutered despite the advent of the PG-13 rating. When someone gets shot in a Marvel movie or a Star Wars movie, you never see blood come spraying out of them. If you're lucky, you get to see a big blood splotch on their uniform where the entry wound is ("Go on without me!"), plus some tasteful face lacerations. You don't get anything close to the violence of Temple of Doom, not even in a modern R movie. I grew up watching shit like Total Recall and Robocop. By today's standards, those movies are obscenely violent, no matter the rating. Even the John Wick movies, all of which I really liked, aren't as violent as the Total Recall escalator scene. There's a lot of blood, and John racks himself up a healthy body count. But it's all so glossy and stylized that I didn't recoil seeing a guy get his neck broken (broken necks are the go-to finishing move for filmmakers looking to stage a gruesome but bloodless death) by John for the 57th time.

Like I said at the top, we've dialed back on way too much of this shit and need to expose kids to a greater variety of imagery—be it gruesome or SEXY—in movies. That way, they can judge for themselves what they think if appropriate for them to watch, instead of enduring a childhood of sanitized mainstream entertainment that leaves them unable to emotionally process REAL violence and sex when they encounter it. All the shit they see on TV is watered down and all the shit they see on the Internet is drenched in clumsy irony. We need to strap all of these kids into a chair and force them to watch the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan on a repeating loop. LET'S TOUGHEN THESE KIDS UP, AMERICA.

Arjay:

What is the scariest kitchen appliance? I cut my hand on my mandoline earlier even though I was paying a super huge amount of attention to it, it caught the meat just under my thumb. Mandolines just make me instantly wary. However I think the scariest is hands-down the immersion blender. I always have horrible thoughts about it jerking up out of my sauce and jamming right into my eye.

Now see, if Arjay here had been raised on a steady diet of Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, he wouldn't fear his blender! Anyway I use an immersion blender but the only thing I fear is my wife telling me that I'm scratching the bottom of the pan with it. Otherwise, I operate that bad boy with impunity. I find a regular blender much more daunting. One time I was making falafel batter like a REAL MAN in the blender and some shit got stuck on the bottom because my blender is a cheap piece of shit. So I dip a wooden spoon handle into the batter WHILE THE BLENDER IS STILL RUNNING. The blade chips off the end of the handle and sends it flying out of the jar, like a fucking bullet. I still ate the falafel balls afterward. They were fucking terrible. Never again.

But I think you were right at first with the mandoline. It's a hand guillotine. We have one and I've used a grand total of, like, two times. Those times when I have busted out the mandoline and used it, it's scared my wife to death. It did make fabulous homemade potato chips, though. Better than what you get in a Lays bag? FUCK NO. But still pretty tasty.

Also, I don't fear my toaster oven, but I probably should. No other appliance has given me more wrist burns that little hotbox. I shouldn't reach into its maw when it's still toasting, but I love to live dangerously.

Michael:

Licensing issues aside, would it be better if after winning gold at the Olympics, you could pick whatever song you wanted rather than your country's anthem? Also in this scenario, what you choose and why?

Oh hell yeah I'd want to be able to pick my own gold medal song. I think we've all heard the anthem enough times already, have we not? Gimme Shawn Michaels' entrance music instead. "Sexy Boy" will make everyone in the stadium take not just one knee, but TWO.

(In all seriousness I'd pick "Millionaire" by QOTSA because it's quick and mean, and it would make me feel cool.)

Garrison:

So I'm at a Seattle Mariners game one night, and during the national anthem, they set off about 10 seconds of fireworks in the middle. Idk your opinions on the national anthem being played, but the fireworks make it a joke, right? Like, it's ridiculous.

That is intensely fucking stupid. I'm on record saying it's a waste of time to play the anthem before every sporting event. But if you're gonna do it, then do it right. Don't set off fireworks in the middle of it. Don't go berserker on the O! part, especially if you're not even at a fucking Orioles game (people in DC do this all the time and it's brain dead). Don't have stealth bombers flying overhead. Just play it quick and unadorned, and then get to the action. Every team treats the anthem like it's the Super Bowl halftime show. And for what? What good has it fucking done? Now we're all home and we're all gonna go broke and die. Oh, but the Blue Angels made contrails in the shape of a heart over an emergency field hospital nearby. Wow. What a fucking unifying moment.

Christian:

What do you think would be the funniest/most challenging incorrect uniform to wear while playing a certain sport? I'm thinking wearing a speedo and a swim cap and goggles would make hockey incredibly uncomfortable.

I'd like to see an Olympic gymnast forced to wear a NASCAR uniform. Simone Biles jumping thirty feet in the air with GOODYS HEADACHE POWDER plastered across her back.

Email of the week!

Ian:

Here's the latest scheme I've hatched up to deal with Trump. We get the NASA folks to draft up a letter stating that, inspired by our brilliant president's commitment to Space Force, they've completed a prototype rocket that will be the first to put a man on Mars. In order to test it, they want to send it to the moon, which is a total slam dunk/gimme/etc. and they want the Chief himself (and perhaps some of his finest cabinet members) to fly the craft. With DJT's "incredible physical fitness", he's a shoo-in for the rigors of being an astronaut, and the craft is basically a luxury space liner anyway so it really won't be that tough. There's no way he turns down the chance to be the first president on the moon, right? Anyway, they load him up and shoot him straight into the sun or whatever, and there's enough plausible deniability to just call it a one-in-a-billion accident.

Somehow he'd come back to Earth alive. He's too stupid to die.