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Let's talk about how my mother refused to let me watch 'Itchy and Scratchy' as a kid

She was afraid it might influence myself and my little brother.

WHEN WE’RE LITTLE it’s our parent’s job to protect from anything they feel might do us harm. That’s why they teach us not to put our hands in electrical sockets, not to talk to strangers and not to tell the teacher that Mammy’s favourite hobby is ‘drinking wine’.

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In her infinite wisdom, my mother decided to take this protection to the next level and started banning things left, right and centre. The first thing to go was the ‘bed scenes’ in Coronation Street. Basically any time a sexy scene was about to unfold in front of my seven-year-old eyes, she’d quickly change the channel to Monty Don’s ‘Gardener’s World’ or something more boring than that.

I feel this approach may have created more problems than it solved as I started asking questions like ‘Why are they in the bed?’ and ‘Mum, why are they rolling around?’ and ‘Mum why have you changed the channel?’ but this only intensified her campaign.

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She then turned her attention to the Simpsons.

Now growing up, we had a strict TV schedule. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we’d watch one episode of the Simpsons on Sky One before switching over the Coronation Street before heading to bed. Tuesdays and Thursdays meant double Simpson’s meaning I was consuming at least seven episodes of Springfield every week.

My mother became concerned.

Seven-year-old Rachel was learning the vocabulary of ‘Bart Simpson’ at a rather rapid pace. I was spewing out ‘Ay Karumba’s’ and ‘Don’t have a cow man’ faster than I was learning how to write in cursive.

In an odd move, Santa (who clearly wasn’t listening to my mother’s concerns) gave me ‘Bart Simpson’s Guide to Life’ for Christmas one year meaning I could take my obsession to a whole new level.

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But it was Itchy and Scratchy that was turning out to be the real problem.

Yes because seven episodes of the Simpsons per week means a fair bit of exposure to the violent version of Tom and Jerry.

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My mum was afraid of a few things. Firstly she adopted a stance much like Helen Lovejoy of ‘WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN’ as my brother and I clearly enjoyed watching the mindless violence.

Secondly, mum was a bit concerned that myself and my brother might adopt some of the techniques shown to us in the segment and use them on each other. We were at that age where we spent most of our time kicking the shit out of each other so mum was slightly afraid I might try to remove Rónans intestines or hit him with a giant hammer.

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So how did she intend to fight our indoctrination?

The same way she challenged the sexy scenes of Coronation Street. She changed the bloody channel. This resulted in key moments being missed as my mother constantly waited too long to change it back meaning I was stuck watching Channel 4 News instead of my hero and idol Bart Simpson.

It didn’t solve anything either.

Rónan and I continued to kick the shit out of each other for a number of years after the banning of Itchy and Scratchy meaning the whole exercise was totally and utterly pointless.

So what is the lesson here? Answering your kid’s questions is nearly always better than banning whatever the offence is.

Also Gardener’s World will always be worse than a sex scene. Always.

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About the author:

Rachel O'Neill

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