When I was about sixteen, I did a show for BlahBlah Theatre for Children company. The shows were meant to be performed by adults (mostly rich housewives with too much time on their hands or retired school teachers) for children. But since I was homeschooled, I was free during the day, so I became one of the performers. True, I was a good thirty years younger than anyone else, but that isn’t the point of the story.
The show I did was about all these forest creatures doing a talent show, and the big song at the end was all about being yourself. The lyrics were something like “be happy, be kind, be merry, be gay, be sweet, be nice, be good, be okay. Remember these words and you will go far. Just be who you are.” Now naturally, we had to change the “be gay” to “be great,” because one of the housewives insisted we not use musical theatre to encourage homosexuality, but that still isn’t the point.
The point is all those things we were asking these hundreds of children to be were unrealistic. We were just asking them to be cheerful, obedient children. Not innovative. Not creative. Just positive little minions with no forum for self expression. I think the more appropriate version would have been something like “be happy, be smart, be thoughtful, be gay. Be new, be different, be environmentally aware, be not a serial killer. Remember these words and you will change the world. Just be who you are.” Now that would be a kid’s show I could really get behind.