Lately I’ve been thinking about music, what types I like, and what I think of “goyish” music. A little while ago an encounter triggered my memory on to this topic.
Usually I’m very good with faces, and I’m always the one to recognize people from my past. But this time I was by a restaurant with my mother and little sister, and at the table next to us was a few girls. We overheard their conversation the whole time, and they sounded like teenagers. I didn’t get to see all of their faces, cause I don’t stare at people. But then when the girls were done eating, they got up, and one girl comes over to me. She says “Hey, your ‘Babysitter’, your so and so’s cousin”. Once she said that I was able to figure out who she was, and I was like “o, your so and so, and I was in your bunk in sleep away camp”. So we caught up a little.
Now how did this encounter trigger my memory to music? Well this girl happened to be the girl that introduced me to non Jewish music. I was 11 years old in camp and she was in my bunk. One day she started singing and dancing to “oops I did it again” By Britney Spears. That was officially the first non Jewish song I heard. Then also during that summer I learned about movies, what G, PG, PG-13, and R means.
That year I had been going into 7th grade. So then when the school year came, I was talking with my friends and I found out that my friend listens to z100, so I started listening to it too. I learned a lot of stuff by listening to that station, stuff which I didn’t understand at that age, so it didn’t even make a difference that I heard it. My friend also had CD’s full of Non Jewish music, I would go to her house and she would let me listen to some. Then I decided to download some of my own, so I downloaded Hillary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and a bunch of others. That was when I was a bit older, at 13 or 14.
During my 7th and 8th grade year I was a bit “rebellious”. My friend had become friends with another girl that she had gone to day camp with the previous summer. That girl decided she wanted to go see a movie, she told my friend about it, and my friend invited me. She told me the movie title and it sounded good and I liked the story line. So I asked my father if I can go see a movie with my friends. He said yes at first, then he changed his mind and figured it won’t be a good idea. But I had still wanted to go, I was excited about it. It was a Chanukah night, after my father lit candles, I ran out of the house to sneak to my friends house so that I can go with her. But then my father knew where I was going, so he came after me, to stop me. He talked some sense in to me, and I said ok I won’t go.
So I didn’t go to see that movie, years later, I decided to finally check it out, and I watched it online, and I’m glad I didn’t go when I was younger. The movie was “Not another Teen Movie” which is not a clean movie, and the beginning scene is a frightening one.
But later that year I did end up going to see a movie. It was a funny story. Spy kids 3 came out, the 3D one, so I decided to go with my friends to see it, and I didn’t tell my parents about it. Meanwhile, my twin brother had also gone to see it, but himself. Yet at the same time, my parents went to see it themselves. Nobody told each other that we were going to see it. What could have been a family night out guilt free, was done sneakily. I had kept my movie tickets and glasses, my little brother had snooped and found it and told my parents, and that’s how we realized that we all went to it.
Originally my family had a TV, I was brought up as a child with a TV, I have fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers, Barney, Puzzle Mania, Full House, Boy Meets World, Sabrina, 7th Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Wheel of Fortune, and others. Then when I was still a child, my twin brother got angry about something and smashed the TV. So then we never got a new one and that was the end of that.
Later when I was in 7th or 8th grade, my friend told me how you can buy a mini black and white TV at value depot for 10 dollars. So I went and bought one. My father knew about it, and let me keep it, so long as I didn’t watch too much, and kept to my priorities. With my brother though, he didn’t let him have a TV cause my brother would play hookey and stay home to watch.
We also always watched movies at home, my mother bought her child hood favorites for us to watch. So I remember watching “Willie Wanka and the Chocolate factory”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Marry Poppins”. But once the TV monitor was broken, we no longer were able to watch all the video cassettes we have. My mother used to video us, and we would watch it, it was so much fun. All my child hood memories are on there, I wish to one day be able to convert them to DVD.
Back to my thoughts on music, TV and movies. I think with all these things, you can’t limit yourself to only Jewish stuff. This applies to books too. Let me just add one more thing. Up until a few years ago, I had thought that only teenagers listen to non Jewish music. I thought that fathers have iPOD’s to listen to Shiurim with. When I found out that a married father had gotten a ipod for his birthday present and was going to fill it with music he likes aka. non Jewish music, I was shocked.
I always felt that if you listen to non Jewish music then its something that you keep private, that on social networking profiles where it had a place for you to fill out what music you like, I had thought people wouldn’t advertise that they listen to non Jewish music. But then after being on Facebook a while, I realized that so many girls who I thought were all so frum and wouldn’t understand if I listen to non Jewish music, actually had their own non Jewish music up.
So now, back to my opinion on all this. I think non Jewish music, tv, and movies are acceptable, that they are neutral. Just like everything else in life. That you should judge each song/movie/book on itself. So long as the content is age appropriate and clean then there’s nothing wrong with it.
But yet having said that, it doesn’t mean that Jewish music isn’t good which is why non Jewish music is good. They aren’t opposites, they are both forms of music. There are good and bad in both. You have to judge each song individually, see what you like. I think Jewish music is extremely under rated by those that listen to non Jewish music. They seem to think they are only allowed to enjoy non Jewish music if they say that Jewish music isn’t professional. I think both can sound good, and with my Jewish Song Sunday’s I try to show that Jewish music can be good too.
Now with TV, I’ve had a long debate with Frum Skeptic on this, so I won’t get into it again. But for a researched write up of why TV isn’t good for kids, you can read my post, and keep in mind this is a speech I wrote for my college class, so it has no religious reasons in it.
Now with going to an actual movie theater, at first I wouldn’t have agreed to it. Certain movies I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching with other people, some stuff are more fun to watch in the privacy of your own home. But with regular stuff, I don’t think it would be different than going to an imax or 3d show, that so many frum people go to on chol hamoed. It’s the same concept, seeing a video on a large screen. The content you choose to watch is the questionable part, not the actual going to a movie theater.