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Attack of The Birds and the Bees
April 8, 2011 12:19 AM   Subscribe

Julia Sweeney answers her 8-year-old daughter's questions about sex. [via]
posted by spiderskull (64 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit, its Pat!

And she looks totally different.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:32 AM on April 8, 2011


Thank you. That was wonderful. I adore Julia Sweeny.
posted by item at 12:33 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Somewhere, a grandmother is chuckling to herself.
posted by fullerine at 12:38 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my lord that was hilarious. I forgot how funny Julia Sweeney is. I laughed out loud several times, especially at

NO THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN HUMANS ARE VERY PRIVATE
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:42 AM on April 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I laughed out loud (as only parents can, I suspect).

Thanks so much, spiderskull.

PS: Pat who, hal_c_on? (Have to rush out the door, no time to google.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:42 AM on April 8, 2011


I pity the poor fool who missed out on the cultural phenomenon of Pat.
posted by item at 12:48 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


That was way funnier then I expected.

Holy shit, its Pat!

*blink*

Holy shit! MIND = BLOWN
posted by delmoi at 12:55 AM on April 8, 2011


It's Pat!
posted by hal_c_on at 1:32 AM on April 8, 2011


I pity the poor fool who missed out on the cultural phenomenon of Pat.

Leave her alone, she's Australian...
posted by hal_c_on at 1:33 AM on April 8, 2011


That was maybe the loudest I have laughed at a video on YouTube. Funny, funny lady. So glad she is still healthy and active after that cancer scare a few years back.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:43 AM on April 8, 2011


MOM AREN'T YOU EVEN CURIOUS!?
posted by molecicco at 2:11 AM on April 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm back home now (in the Australian boondocks) and upon googling, I've found Pat and watched a couple of clips.

Oh. Oh dear. Oh good fucking grief.

I'm going back to watch Attack Of The Birds And The Bees, with a desperate desire to wipe Pat from my memory.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:48 AM on April 8, 2011


Metafilter: It's like a waste treatment plant next to an amusement park.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:03 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


ShutterBun beat me 38 minutes with that remark, I need to get up earlier....

And, really, Pat, I'll be darned....
posted by tomswift at 3:42 AM on April 8, 2011


I found it funny from about four minutes in, but up until then I couldn't figure out why the laugh track/audience was having hysterics. Maybe my sense of humour metre is broken?
posted by lollusc at 3:43 AM on April 8, 2011


So, in watching this on youtube, when it ended, the video advertised as "next up" was "St. Bernard Dog mating". And, yes it said "dog" not "dogs", but, I was afraid to click it to see what THAT was about!

pssst... y'all might want to close up that browser window, just sayin' :-\
posted by tomswift at 4:00 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is now the time to take off my pants?
posted by louche mustachio at 4:01 AM on April 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Oh god, I love Julia Sweeney so much. She was the only person to make a David Sedaris reading actually funny.

And she's in Pulp Fiction! For like a second! Not sure if she has a line, but she's there!
posted by The Whelk at 4:10 AM on April 8, 2011


What? She's in Pulp Fiction?

She's RAQUEL?!?

"I have character!", indeed.

Pat did nothing for me, The Birds And The Bees cracked me up, but when I grow up I wanna be Raquel.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:39 AM on April 8, 2011


I laughed out loud, several times, especially the part about keeping your eggs in a vault or a purse or a tupperware container.

And then I thought, "I wonder what her daughter thinks about her telling this story? I wonder what her daughter's friends will say when they find this on the internet and it talks about porn and anal sex?"

(This is the same thought I have when I read parent blogs. Most parent blogs make me profoundly uncomfortable, because they're telling stories that are not wholly theirs to tell.)

So I went looking to see how old her daughter is now, hoping she was an adult, or at least old enough to be able to decide that she's okay with it. Mulan is ten. I also found a blog post by Julia Sweeney where she told the same frog story at TED last year and then:
When I got home from the conference I realized that if Mulan saw my story (or a fellow student did) she could be very embarrassed. I was mortified and could not believe that I hadn’t considered this before.
I'm staggered this never occurred to Julia Sweeney before. Absolutely staggered.

We read so many heartbreaking threads on MeFi about bullying and the scars it leaves. Yet there's all these parents out there selling out their kids' privacy for blog hits or a byline or a book deal, seemingly never considering that the internet is forever. When your daughter is twelve and just starting high school, when she's sixteen and hanging out with her first boyfriend, when she's forty and a CEO, when she's fifty-five and running for office, people will find all the childhood secrets that you blithely put online. And they will use them to point and laugh.

The first kids to have every moment blogged are about twleve now. Their peers know how to use the internet. If there's not already bullying going on driven by the blog posts and photographs posted by over-sharing parents, I'd be very, very surprised.

So, ultimately, this kind of thing leaves a bittersweet taste in my mouth. Yes, it's very funny, but I don't feel comfortable with the potential cost.
posted by Georgina at 4:57 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Raquel in Pulp Fiction

Rispetto! Mi rispettano tutti perché io ho carattere!
posted by zippy at 4:59 AM on April 8, 2011


(Btw, Sweeney later decided to keep telling the frog story. Mulan went back and forth about it, but has now said it's okay. I would argue that she's in no way old enough (or aware enough of the world) to be able to make that decision, but Sweeney is right that the rabbit is out of the hat. The story is on the internet; it can't be taken back.

This is the kind of thing you should consider before you tell the world about the time your kid invented anal sex.)
posted by Georgina at 5:02 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yet there's all these parents out there selling out their kids' privacy for blog hits or a byline or a book deal, seemingly never considering that the internet is forever.

It's certainly a sobering thought, and one of the things that made my own blogging drop off after my son arrived; too many of my stories became our stories (they're rarely just his stories; and the video here isn't just Sweeney's daughter's story - we're laughing as much if not more at her adult responses as at her daughters' questions, which are perfectly reasonable and nothing the daughter should ever have to feel embarrassed about).
posted by rory at 5:22 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Georgina,

Your comment struck a bit of a chord with me in itself. What you bring up about celebrities -- especially the children of celebrities -- brings up an interesting line of thinking.

Growing up in Los Angeles, celebrity -- and celebrities -- were always in close proximity. As a kid, it was hard to understand why people in restaurants gawked at 'the lady from TV' sitting at the next table. In time, it became obvious that whilst celebrities are people to, they experience the world rather differently than the rest of us do.

Fast forward to the present day and I continually hear arguments as to whether celebrities are overpaid or not, comments about the tabloids, and everything else. One thing I always keep in mind is that celebrities make money off of 'selling' themselves to an extreme degree. The masses need heros and thus the celebrities become these heros. In doing that, they essentially schism into two people -- the public version and a private version.

Most of us will never see the private version -- with perhaps the recent exception of Charlie Sheen. In this video, perhaps what you are seeing is the most private part of the public persona. Whilst she is in a sense exploiting the privacy of her family, that is literally where her income is generated -- in packaging and selling her life experience.

If you watch again, perhaps you will notice that it's a very well thought-out delivery of content, careful to maintain the boundaries of a narrative story and not provide any ammunition which could potential be used back against the family. The secret is in the style of delivery, not in the content itself.

When the daughter grows up to be sixteen, her prom date may laugh -- "I googled you and saw that sex talk your mom gave when you were 8." Perhaps that will elicit an eye roll or perhaps laughter. However there is nothing in the talk about the daughter short of the same curious questions any child would ask.

And that is not accidental. (Without the recent exception of Charlie Sheen), celebrities are very careful not to divulge information about other people. The celebrities that do are usually B-list celebrities that trade on controversy and shock value, rather than recognised ability. Julia here has revealed a tender part of the most private side of her public persona, but again, any comments or any arrows to be cast will be absorbed by the public persona. It's not the real Julia, in a sense.

And it's the same with many celebrity writers, actors, and all the rest. They perform as it's their job. Similar to the auto mechanic working on a car. If someone defames him as a terrible auto mechanic, that does not by default extend to his relationship with his children. If someone is a daycare teacher and they come under fire for lack of transparency and shoddy record-keeping, they do not absorb that as an attack on their private ability with their children.

In all of these cases, there is a job role -- a public role -- and a very different private role lived outside of the public eye. Even Facebook often reflects the most personal aspect of the public life whilst remaining out of the truly private life.

As Julia's daughter ages, she is going to do so in a family environment where the differentiation between public and private lives is very clear. The children of celebrities are very adept at picking up on their parents' experience and behaviour in public and private and often innately learn the line between the two.

Hence the difference between Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan. Similar set of disorders (drugs, sex, general misbehaviour), yet after each incident, Paris disappears for a while back behind the curtain and into her private life. Lindsey did not learn these lessons, thus the drama plays out on a public stage and is literally consuming her, for she does not have a private life in which she can find normalcy. The Hiltons are a medium-money family (not new, not old) and thus they are aware of where this boundary is and whilst Paris cannot resist the luscious attention of the camera, she has an innate sense of where to hide -- and when to stop revealing. No doubt her parents' handlers are a very keen influence here.

But overall, before you allow your enjoyment of Julia's product to be impacted by considerations for the future of the child, I hope that you can see that in the first place, Julia is very careful to direct any possible attention at herself as the primary actor, and secondly, realise that the child is being raised in an environment where significant attention is both expected and lessons on how to handle that attention instilled.

Obviously, this is an oversimplification of a very complex issue in our society, however after many years of considering this (I have a hobby of studying personality theory and identity development), celebrity literally exists in a differentiated world.

On a final point, this seems to by why so many actors and people in the 'business' date and relate. It's not a lifestyle that exists in many places outside of that realm and it's very hard for normal people to understand. It was touched on a bit in 'Notting Hill' however overall, there people literally sell themselves each and every day to make their livelihood and thus their public and private personas are infinitely more complex than perhaps those realms that the rest of us inhabit, which often involve 'work' and 'not work'.
posted by nickrussell at 5:26 AM on April 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


Metafilter: It's like a waste treatment plant next to an amusement park.

Wm Butler Yeats: But Love has pitched his mansion in / The place of excrement;
(...from Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop)
posted by madamjujujive at 5:36 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow. Someone quotes Yeats (quite appropriately) in a discussion on Julia Sweeney.

This is why I love Metafilter. My day has been made.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:17 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay now is when we share our own childhood misconceptions about sex.

I have a distinct memory of being , oh I don't know, 6 or something. Shorts and lunchpail and crew-cut age, and on the bus. For some reason my mind turned to biology. Specifically reproduction. Now I had the vague notion it required both a man and a woman and the baby grew inside the woman but ..but ...HOW DID IT GET OUT? My only reference for female antomny was stripping my cousin's Barbies naked and having them topple lego buildings, godzilla like and completely smooth so I thought:

Maybe they cut the baby out when it's ready? Like a pie?

No. that was silly. They couldn't do that in caveman times cause they had no knives. Maybe a helpful animal came and sliced it out and got a treat for doing so!

Well no, cause that animal would still be around, right? Hospitals don't have lions or bears wandering around to cut out babies. Wait? DO THEY?!

I resolved to go home and ask my mother, who proceeded to ignore the question and drop very large hints that I should go play outside. Now.

The next day a book appeared on my bed. One of those 70s-era Big Book Of Knowledge For Children showing lots of people in stripped shirts holding hands and a map of the solar system and line drawings of human reproductive systems detailing the process in simple, easy to understand terms.

I ignored it because a quick leaf-through revealed no dinosaurs or robots and by the time I was older enough to ponder this mystery again, we had a windows 3.1 box and Compuserve and a quick search cleared up that question right away.
posted by The Whelk at 6:41 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


What? She's in Pulp Fiction?

She's RAQUEL?!?


Yup. And Quentin Tarantino was an (uncredited) writer on the It's Pat movie.
posted by googly at 7:06 AM on April 8, 2011


Loved this. Thanks!
posted by zarq at 7:08 AM on April 8, 2011


This is the kind of thing you should consider before you tell the world about the time your kid...

Comedians telling funny/embarrassing stories about their kids for all the world to hear? What next?
posted by ShutterBun at 7:10 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


googly: "Yup. And Quentin Tarantino was an (uncredited) writer on the It's Pat movie"

I never saw "It's Pat", but PLEASE tell me there was a dramatic unzipping of Pat's pants zipper shown from behind, causing people's faces to be bathed in a glowing, golden light?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:10 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think my brain deliberately forgot there was ever an It's Pat movie. It's rare that a comedy sketch routine is translated successfully into feature film format.

On a related note, I once worked with briefly with a woman who looked & acted exactly like a blonde version of It's Pat. She was our receptionist. I am embarrassed to admit that I oftentimes inadvertently called her Pat when that wasn't even her name. (Fortunately for me, it seems she was unfamiliar with SNL.)

It's amazing how pervasive memes can be - & this was before the term was even coined!
posted by PepperMax at 8:27 AM on April 8, 2011


I laughed out loud (as only parents can, I suspect).

You would suspect wrongly. But thanks so much for assuming those of us without kids are living stunted two-dimensional emotional lives somehow.
posted by aught at 8:36 AM on April 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Man, for a thread on a harmless "getting in too deep while explaining the birds and the bees story," it's gotten all serious and stuffy in here.

But thanks so much for assuming those of us without kids are living stunted two-dimensional emotional lives somehow.

It had been my impression that number one with a bullet on a list of "things parents do that kid-free people like to complain about" was Assume Child's Commonplace Expressions and Accomplishments Are Uniquely Interesting. Poor bastards can't win: suggest that cutesy-poo bs interesting to everybody, and you're a self-involved fluffhead; suggest that's it's especially interesting to parents and you're denying the common humanity we all share, you douchebag. It's enough to make you write a role reversed response song to DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.
posted by Diablevert at 9:16 AM on April 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's amazing how pervasive memes can be - & this was before the term was even coined!

The term meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. I'm not sure exactly when the character of Pat was created, but Julia Sweeney first appeared on SNL in 1989.

That meme is so pervasive that it carried itself backward in time!!!
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 9:34 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just fixed an error on the It's Pat wikipedia page. Life is really odd sometimes.
posted by item at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Planning on telling you childless friend a story about your kid? Here's a quick guide:

Funny? Yes.
Cute? Maybe.
Touching/Endearing? No.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:04 AM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I went looking to see how old her daughter is now, hoping she was an adult, or at least old enough to be able to decide that she's okay with it. Mulan is ten. I also found a blog post by Julia Sweeney where she told the same frog story at TED last year and then:
I dunno, I kind of think naming her Mulan is going to be a lot more scarring then having this story on the internet. I mean, I don't think the story portrays her in a negative light.
We read so many heartbreaking threads on MeFi about bullying and the scars it leaves. Yet there's all these parents out there selling out their kids' privacy for blog hits or a byline or a book deal, seemingly never considering that the internet is forever.
Preventing bullying has nothing to do with somehow not giving them any ammo. Bullies will find something.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on April 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I quite enjoyed that, thanks for posting.
posted by sharpener at 10:53 AM on April 8, 2011


"Mommy, what's virgin mean?" [SLYT]
posted by Tuesday After Lunch at 11:15 AM on April 8, 2011


The Hiltons are a medium-money family (not new, not old) and thus they are aware of where this boundary is and whilst Paris cannot resist the luscious attention of the camera, she has an innate sense of where to hide -- and when to stop revealing. No doubt her parents' handlers are a very keen influence here.
Actually parent's family 'disowned' her (financially at least) after her DUI conviction. But she makes enough money on her own now it's not an issue.
Maybe they cut the baby out when it's ready? Like a pie?

No. that was silly. They couldn't do that in caveman times cause they had no knives. Maybe a helpful animal came and sliced it out and got a treat for doing so!
The irony is that lots of kids actually are born that way, via c-section. And of course the hominids had knives before humans evolved, I think.
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on April 8, 2011


Julia Sweeney's one-woman show Letting Go of God is pretty good. Here's the first 15 minutes.
posted by gurple at 11:28 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Humans mating on the internet.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:46 AM on April 8, 2011


"Maybe they cut the baby out when it's ready? Like a pie?"

I was born that way!
posted by Blasdelb at 12:07 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: It's like a waste treatment plant next to an amusement park.

Is that from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:28 PM on April 8, 2011


Metafilter: It's like a waste treatment plant next to an amusement park.

Is that from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"?


I could have *sworn* I've heard that line somewhere before, but the Google is only turning up Sweeney's talk.
posted by eugenen at 12:35 PM on April 8, 2011


It's definitely in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but I thought I first saw it in an e-mail listing reasons God was not an engineer. No idea who came up with it first, Sarah Marshall is three years old, don't know if that predates Juliah Sweeney's first telling of the story.
posted by skewed at 12:47 PM on April 8, 2011


Well here's a reference from2006 referring to the dinging room and garbage bin being so close together. Funnily enough it's in reference to the "love pitched" quote above. 2007 "shithole right next to the snackbar" and elsewhere "tropical paradise right next to the septic waste plant". I think it's a fairly ancient observation.
posted by Iteki at 1:07 PM on April 8, 2011


And here's the engineer reference in 1993.
posted by Iteki at 1:18 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was hilarious.

As for the "OMG the children" stuff, I dunno, this is pretty mild. Like classic-parent-explaining-sex mild. I feel like I've read a bunch of similar stories in, like, the Jewish humor books my grandparents had on their bookshelves*. I mean, Dana Carvey has that story about his two year old son flicking his dick on his comedy special which has been repeated on comedy central a bazillion times, and in the scheme of things that seems worse (but not really).




* I must note that my grandparents were dirty old people. There's a photo in my grandmother's photo album of my grandmother standing around in her bra, with the caption, "I sent this to my brother after he had surgery down-there and wrote 'HOPE THIS MAKES YOUR DING DONG FEEL BETTER'" so my view of openness about sex might be kind of skewed, or something.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:53 PM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nice find, Iteki.
posted by skewed at 2:04 PM on April 8, 2011



Metafilter: It's like a waste treatment plant next to an amusement park.

Is that from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"?

I could have *sworn* I've heard that line somewhere before, but the Google is only turning up Sweeney's talk.


Robin Williams used the line in a joke in Bicentennial Man (1999).

"It must have been an engineer that designed the human body. Who else would put a waste processing plant next to a recreation area?"
posted by phoebus at 2:14 PM on April 8, 2011


"Inter urinas et faeces nascimur."—St. Augustine (attributed)
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:52 PM on April 8, 2011


I've also heard the waste/amusement line mentioned in Spider Robinson's novels, too. I forget which one(s), though. I wanna say Night of Power might have had it? That'd have been '85, but I don't remember for sure if it's in that one or not.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:44 PM on April 8, 2011


Derail:

delmoi, if you listen to some of Sweeney's other talks you find out when she adopted her daughter from China as a toddler, her birth name was Mulan.

Sweeney changed it to Tara but one day her daughter said "my name is Mulan" and so it was.

(She does talk about finally just giving up and agreeing with people who say "oh how lovely you named your daughter after the Disney movie".)

/Derail.

Yeah I find it hard to get worked up about this kind of parental anecdote, or about parenting blogs in general, provided the stories aren't egregiously line-crossing in terms of privacy.

I am not too sure what that line might be, but I don't think this talk goes anywhere near it.
posted by jasperella at 8:38 PM on April 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I could have *sworn* I've heard that line somewhere before, but the Google is only turning up Sweeney's talk.

I first heard it in a Robin Williams routine on the Live At the Met CD, which was 1986.
posted by rodgerd at 4:13 AM on April 9, 2011


I found it funny from about four minutes in, but up until then I couldn't figure out why the laugh track/audience was having hysterics. Maybe my sense of humour metre is broken?
Those people were already anticipating where it's going. Someone like Julia Sweeny doesn't start a story like that and end it by saying "and whew, I successfully changed the subject before it got too awkward".
posted by robla at 12:54 PM on April 9, 2011


Julia's story reminds me of one of my own.

When my older daughter was about 5 or 6, I remember starting to tell her about reproduction after she asked about how babies come to be.We were in the breakfast nook of the kitchen, and it was a sunny day, with light pouring in the window. With her sun-kissed face looking up at me with earnest attention, I explained that after the father fertilizes the eggs the baby develops in the mother's womb. She quickly stopped me and announced, in a rote voice, "No. Babies grow in very special place called the uterus." Her mother, who was listening and watching, and I tried to stifle our laughter, because my 5-year-old obviously had no idea what a uterus was or where it was, but some teacher at school had said that exact line and she was parroting it verbatim. But she was very proud of herself that she was able to tell her dad something he was clearly ignorant about.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:31 PM on April 9, 2011


I could have *sworn* I've heard that line somewhere before, but the Google is only turning up Sweeney's talk.

It's a very old joke. I first heard it over 30 years ago. Three theologians are arguing about what God must be like to have designed the human body. The first says he must have been an artist, because the human body is a thing of beauty. The second says, no, an engineer, because the body is designed to work so well for so long. The third says he must have been a city planner. The other two look quizzically at him and together demand to know why he would say that. The third replies, "Only a city planner would put a sewage treatment plant in a prime recreational area."

The joke was told to me by Fred Ederer, the co-inventor of the Cutler-Ederer life-table method of survival analysis, if you're into that sort of thing.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:37 PM on April 9, 2011


This is not funny funny. It's an example of that subclass of pseudo-humour where it's all fake cutie-pie horror, and the only people that find it funny are moms. That is, people who can't even say mothers.
posted by anothermug at 8:17 PM on April 9, 2011


I'm not a mother, or parent of any kind, and was laughing quite a lot. That is because it is, in fact, funny funny. It's just not funny to everyone.
posted by spiderskull at 1:12 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm always equally surprised by the number of entertainers I hear using the "amusement park next to the waste treatment planning zoning issue" joke as by the the number of people in their audience whom have apparently never heard that joke.
posted by achmorrison at 3:03 PM on April 10, 2011


I'm a planner and I'd never heard that joke!
My life just got awesomer
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 10:14 PM on April 13, 2011


Gods, I love this. LOVE IT.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:37 PM on April 23, 2011


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