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Son winning pop culture race for now

What does it mean when the only person in our house who has seen an Academy Award winning movie last year is our 4-year-old son?

I wanted to see some of the movies that were nominated this year, I really did.

As friends raved about the technical achievements of the space movie “Gravity,” I must have been trying to figure out how to keep my son from launching himself from the living room couch.

When some of my colleagues came back from the theater talking about Matthew McConaughey’s performance in “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” I was probably trying to deal with one of Gibson’s Oscar-worthy performances.

Luckily for our son, Gibson has a grandfather who enjoys taking his grandchildren to the show. This Thanksgiving, my father piled Gibson and his cousins into the car to see “Frozen,” the billion-dollar moneymaker for Disney studios. That would be the only Oscar-winning performance any person in our family saw last year.

In many ways, my wife and I are not what you would call connoisseurs of popular culture. We have not seen any episodes of the wildly-popular television shows “Breaking Bad” or “House of Cards.”

If anyone is bingeing on our Netflix subscription, it is our son with his “Curious George” addiction.

As far as the Internet is concerned, I think I am doing pretty well. I do have a Twitter account, although I don’t use it much. I have a website and I do post on Facebook and Instagram regularly. On the other hand, I do not know what Snapchat, Vine and Pheed are exactly.

Unlike my wife, I do get a steady dose of popular music from the radio and the halftime music at high school basketball games. Although I get the G-rated versions of today’s popular songs, I do know who Robin Thicke, Macklemore and Pharrell Williams are.

At four, Gibson already pays close attention to the music and the radio and has started reciting some of the lyrics on the radio. When I am at basketball games, I wonder how many parents would be surprised to know the explicit lyrics that young children know these days.

It seems as if the popular culture universe is expanding at an exponential rate, which may be the reason why I feel it is imperative, as a parent, to keep up.

I am not going to be a father who suddenly dresses in the same clothes as my teenage son, but I will try to keep informed about the music he is enjoying and the shows he is watching.

I will also be on the lookout for some of the more serious dangers that are lurking out there to entice young people into habits that may not be in their best interest like vaping for example.

Until I read an article about the new trend in electronic cigarettes, I didn’t realize vape pipes, hookah pens and e-hookahs existed.

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that simulate smoking without the smoke. They vaporize liquid that comes in a variety of flavors including peppermint ice, menthol ice and other cool flavors.

In Mississippi, e-cigarettes cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18. There is no such ban in Louisiana, for now.

Even after reading the article, I still do not know if these new inhaling devices are inherently dangerous. In many cases, no nicotine is consumed. Experts are still debating whether inhaling a flavored e-cigarette is a gateway to real cigarettes or just a passing fad.

Worrying about these ice-flavored vaporizers is a few years away. Thankfully “Frozen” is the only icy thing in which he has shown interest.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat .com