This arrived today from eBay: Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games as Social Worlds, by Gary Alan Fine. I don’t read much in paper nowadays, with so many ebooks available. But I’ll make an exception in this case.
Why? In college, I read an essay by Fine entitled “The Dirty Play of Little Boys,” and it was transformative. I was raising my own young children at the time, reexamining my own childhood, and wondering why adolescents in particular feel the need to be so gross.
Fine reasoned that they’re experimenting with independence, but they just don’t have the wherewithal to compete with adults. The one and only one venue they can best adults in is fart jokes, etc.
But he didn’t stop with “Now you understand and can sympathize with their plight.” Instead, he went on to say that they need us to react negatively, so that (1) they can feel independent, and (2) they are reminded that those things aren’t acceptable in the adult world.
Armed with this understanding, I faced my eldest daughter’s adolescence (because really, adolescence isn’t just one gender) with equanimity. And when she came home all agog over Kris Kross, I feigned abhorrence—because better she feel independent over something so innocent than that I press her to take up something truly offensive. :-)