Seeing the recent announcement of the LEGO Beatles’ Yellow Submarine Kit, complete with mini Beatles and mini Jeremy Hillary Boob, compelled me to tell my “Yellow Submarine” story:
Years ago, when my kids were pre-school age, we took them to a daycare center based in a downtown church. Kids were allowed to bring VHS movies to watch during the occasional TV time, so we sent our two with “Yellow Submarine,” which had just been released. Our kids loved it.
The daycare administrator, however, one day returned the tape to us and said other parents protested its showing because of its subtle messages about drugs and sex.
While I could have spent much of the administrator’s time challenging her on that premise scene-by-scene, I held back. Instead, the conversation went like this:
Me: “But you guys show Disney’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ right?”
Daycare: “Yes, we do. But that’s Disney.”
Me: “Sure, but there’s drug use all throughout that story. Jefferson Airplane understood. Grace Slick knew what she was talking about.” (Full disclosure: I knew even then that scholars had long since discounted the drug imagery in Dodgson/Carroll’s work, but I was deliberately trying to be a hardass with a point.)
The daycare administrator scoffed at that and said, “Well, we’re not showing the Beatles movie.”
I didn’t press the point. Frankly I didn’t care if the other kids were deprived of a wonderful and happy animated experience as long as my kids got to see it.
Usually when I tell this story I mention that my kids grew up fine, but for dramatic effect I lie and say that others in the daycare class grew up to be drug addicts and thieves.