Apparently Enfield High School had to cancel its production of American Idiot because there are still parents out there who think their teenagers are not completely depraved monsters. Because I am too poor to attend Broadway musicals, I’ve never seen the show. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about its subject matter:
The story, expanded from that of the concept album, centers on three disaffected young men, Johnny, Will, and Tunny. Johnny and Tunny flee a stifling suburban lifestyle and parental restrictions, while Will stays home to work out his relationship with his pregnant girlfriend, Heather. The former pair look for meaning in life and try out the freedom and excitement of the city. Tunny quickly gives up on life in the city, joins the military, and is shipped off to war. Johnny turns to drugs and finds a part of himself that he grows to dislike, has a relationship and experiences lost love.
It’s almost laughable to think that any Broadway musical is too risque for the high school crowd, but it’s even more ridiculous that one that deals so directly with the issues affecting them would be deemed unacceptable…even after they reworked it to be more “suitable.”
Here’s the thing, parents, your high schoolers are basically animals. Even if you’ve managed to raise a teenager who isn’t sex-obsessed, experimenting with drugs, and testing the limits of the decency of the English language, you can be pretty sure they have at least a couple of friends who fit that description. Shielding them from the dangers of a Tony Award-winning musical where someone happens to use heroin probably isn’t going to help prevent them from getting hooked on Adderall while studying, or stealing the Percocet you keep in your bathroom cabinets.
Your kids are probably already wrestling with a lot of the issues raised in American Idiot, and if they aren’t, they will be soon. You are better off exposing them now, in a safe way, otherwise you run the risk of raising veal. A bunch of soft, sheltered baby cows who will willing go to the slaughter when you let them loose on the world (or at least a college campus).
My friends in high school were OBSESSED with RENT. As far as I know, none of them have since fallen victim to the AIDS epidemic, become heroin addicts, or disrupted a restaurant by singing about la vie boheme. At least one is pursuing an acting career, so that may be a side-effect of letting your kids watch topical musical theater.
UPDATE: Enfield has apparently decided to put on Little Shop of Horrors instead of American Idiot. Considering I saw the Rick Moranis version of Little Shop of Horrors in the theater multiple times in 1986–when I was 5–and then at the Bushnell as an adult, I can’t really say anything bad about the show. However, I’m not sure how a man-eating plant from space that drives a good man to murder is preferable to, you know, the reality of sex and drug use among young people.