This is going to be a fairly open-ended post, because my thoughts are not completely formed on the topic. I am sure that there will be plenty of folks commenting. “I didn’t watch it”, but the fact is a whole lot of people watched the premier of the Roseanne reboot. In one of the combined episodes, Darlene’s gender-bending teenage son gets sent home from school for having a knife which Dan gave to him.
The grandparents are not concerned about Mark’s need to express himself through his clothes, but worry that their grandson will get bullied for being different.
After a heartwarming conversation with Roseanne, where she asks her grandson point plank if he identifies as a girl or a boy — which he answers by identifying as a boy — Roseanne takes him to school.Later in the episode however, an angry Darlene comes home early with her son after he is suspended for bringing a weapon to school, and has a serious conversation with her father.
“Guess what? I had to pick up Mark from the principal’s office today,” Darlene says.
“I knew something was going to happen,” Dan comments.
“Yeah, he showed a kid a knife at school and he said you gave it to him,” Darlene says, pulling out a pocket knife and showing it to her father. “Is that true?”
“Well … Yeah,” Dan responds. “I gave it to him. I didn’t tell him to bring it to school.”“What the hell were you thinking?”
“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal Darlene, you wanted a knife at that age and I gave it to you,” Dan says.
Darlene tells her dad the only reason he gave Mark the knife was to make him seem more masculine. Dan admits he liked that Mark found the knife fascinating.
Dan also said he hoped it would “be a gateway to pockets”. As the episode goes on, it becomes clear that Dan’s motivations are good, and he is genuinely worried about the boy.
So this gets me to the point of the post. If you watched the episode, what did you think? I am not particularly interested in moderating a discussion on the cross-dressing itself, I think the show handled it wiell. I am more interested in how the knife was treated on the show.
I don’t disagree that it is a bad idea to have a kid bring a knife to school given the current climate. But context is important. We have seen severe overractions for knives brought for protection, and those which were innocent mistakes.
As I said, I am not sure I have a concrete rumination about it, but I think that the knife was definitely “normalized” in a sense. Yes it was a bad idea, but it was seen as normal for a boy to have a knife. Combined with shows like Forged in Fire and the new Bladesports-inspired “Knife or Death” show, it seems that the normally hoplophobic American media is able to separate knives from guns in the current political climate.
The late Andrew Breitbart once said “Politics is downstream of culture”. For this reason I think the importance of knife “normalization” in pop culture cannot be overstated. Just as switchblade and gravity knife laws were artifacts of “Rebel Without a Cause” in the 50’s, now Vice News, NYT, Village Voice, and WSJ are all actively endorsing gravity knife repeal in NYC. The NRA and the Village frickin’ Voice are both in agreement about something.
I bought each of my children a Mora Eldris, with extremely stern admonitions to not bring them to school. Fact is, I drop them off and pick them up, and for better or worse they do not need to be “resourceful” on the way home.
But I am thrilled when they grab it at home, and head into the acre of woods adjacent to my property. Knives are a normal part of growing up. Knives are “normal” period.
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