Ah, the Joys of Parenting

The song is Shanghai Lil, from the move Footlight Parade (James Cagney and Ruby Keeler, 1933).

I was watching this with my ten year old son, who simply did not understand what was going on, so I had to explain to him the age-old relationship between lonely sailors and prostitutes.

You see, his immersion into the Pokemon culture has not prepared my son to understand the references to what is going on here.

Some questions were easy to answer. What does “on the level” mean? What is a “Dame”? What is a Chateau? Why is that guy offering her a house?

Other questions verged into grown-up topics. Why is Shanghai Lil detrimental to the industry of, er, let us call them the ladies of the evening? Why does sailor Bill get angry and clobber the Joe who roars that Lil is “everybody’s gal”?

I also had the dubious pleasure of explaining what an opium den is, or what opium is, for that matter.

My sons knows, in an abstract way, what adultery is, because he knows his ten commandments. So I told him Shanghai Lil and the various harlots in the film were ladies who committed adultery for money.

Well, it gave me a new appreciation for the Hayes Code.

I also, with considerably less embarrassment, described the difference between Marines and Sailors, and told him that there was no better and more disciplined fighting force in the history of the world than the marines. Semper Fi! (Despite that, I told him as a Navy family, we had to root for the sailors. Go Navy!)

Seeing a Hollywood movie display the American flag and display the face of the President is also something my son would not see in a modern film.

(Even though, when asked to name the president here, he guessed Washington.)