Sunday, September 30, 2012

Schoolyard Rhymes Part I: Strong Negative Emotions Are Your Friends


Oh God, Barney.

Friggin' Barney.

You remember him.  If you grew up in the nineties, or have a child who grew up in the nineties, chances are high that you can recall staring at the TV in pained silence as the guy in the bulky purple dinosaur suit danced awkwardly around and sang songs about sharing and good manners to a gang of fresh-faced kids.  It was all so oppressively, disgustingly wholesome.

I have vivid memories of twelve-year-old me stewing in resentment on the couch as my two young sisters clapped and giggled and sang along to Barney's antics.  Why on earth did my mom tell me I had to let them pick the movie for once?  They had terrible taste!  I just wanted to watch Star Wars for the ten millionth time, dammit!

And I wasn't the only one who suffered.  Oh, no.  My friends and classmates all had younger siblings, cousins, kids they babysat for pocket change.  They all had that dopey, nightmarish cloth-golem from Hell foisted on them.  They hated it.  They hated it as much as I did.  And hatred demands an outlet.

That's why there were so many rhymes about cold-blooded Barney-murder floating around the schoolyard.  They were all sung to the tune of Barney's sappy-sweet "I love you; you love me" anthem.  This is called "taking back the language of the oppressor," kiddies.  Look it up.

You've probably heard the most common one:

I hate you; you hate me.
Let's chase Barney up a tree.
Take a big shotgun and shoot him in the head!
Aren't you glad that Barney's dead?

This less-common variant circulated around my playground:

I hate you; you hate me.
Let's chase Barney out to sea.
Take a big anchor and tie it 'round his neck!
Aren't you glad that Barney sunk?

I'm sure there were others that I never managed to hear.  My point is, a strong negative emotion--such as white-hot hatred--can be an excellent generator of creativity, and writing inspired by such emotions can be an extremely cathartic and freeing experience.  Even if the end result isn't very good, there's still a sense of pride and relief.  You got it off your chest.  That feeling doesn't own you anymore.  You have faced the darkness of your soul and named it.

And chased it up a tree.  And plugged it with a shotgun.

Your little sisters will be most displeased.

No comments:

Post a Comment