The Unpopular Position
by Dino Corvino on May 16th, 2011
I have grown tired of the words “family entertainment”. I get 10 e-mails a week about some event someplace, and invariably they have the words family entertainment or family-friendly, or some other variation on the same theme. I decided that I am so through with it. I am not coming to your shindig if you call it family friendly.
I am 40. I am in the age group where those words should mean something to me. Do not get me wrong, I am not in any way discouraging you from going to something with a jumpy house, or pony rides, or fruit on a stick coated in bad chocolate. Go on with your bad self. You and your kids need someplace to go, and it appears that everything in this town is targeted for you. So, you are set.
But, there is also a group of people who do not have children. Who want something to do where they can do what they want, be in the moment, and not have to worry about exposing someone elses child to something that childs parent thinks is inappropriate. So let us start there.
We live in Wisconsin. A state that just put forth concealed carry, a state that likes its beer. At some point it should be all right for an adult to consume beer in a legal manner, and enjoy themselves. Sometimes this enjoyment takes on the form of dancing, or talking loud, or other things. Things that in the company of adults, totally acceptable. Or at least not corrupting. But, in the company of a 9 year old, this behavior, which is legal, is totally forbidden. And it should be. You should pay attention to your behavior around children. No one is suggesting you should not.
Look, I am not espousing doing lines of crank at the Renaissance Fair dressed in a chain mail shirt, and leather man skirt while while holding a battle axe, while little Jimmy looks on. Not at all. But is it too much to ask to not have to walk around baby strollers at blues fest? Jesus, Junior Wells was a bluesman and he took a gun onstage each and every night, blues music and some of its subjects is totally not family friendly. Is it too much to ask that at some point I can wear a sun dress, drink too much red bull and vodka and spin to the sounds of Irenes Garden? And not have to worry about the down the nose glances of mom and pop late 30 somethings. Or that if I fall down, somehow Little Jimmy will be traumatized to the point of, well, who knows what Little Jimmy will end up with.
I understand the desire to keep families rooted here. Keep the tax base, keep something. I get it. So, we offer families a ton of entertainment. Every church, every Wausau Area Events event, every this every that, its all for kids and parents. Nothing is beyond that label.
But, there has to be something. There has to be some form of challenging art, challenging music, challenging food. There has to be something where we can say to a 29 year old who has just finished medical school, that there is a reason to be here besides schools, and a great place to raise a family. We have to embrace those without children, who choose another path.
I get that these family friendly things are supremely valuable for the vast majority. But, there has to be more. There has to be something for those people who are sans children. There has to be something for people with babysitters.
We just found out what our local brand is going to be. We just survived the creation of the 400 Block. We just lived through the beginning of the Walker era, and we are onto something else. But, jeez, if I am 27, single, and a professional or just someone looking for a fun place to live, is this it? Is there any reason to come here save for schools, and a place to raise kids? Is there any reason for a young person just graduating from STOUT who wants to work in new media to come here? Or should they just jet off to other places, for other opportunities?