Emergency Protocol

Taxicab Confessions was one of those “awakening” moments for me as a young teen. Through those covertly mounted lipstick cameras I saw and learned things that I was not necessarily seeking out, and I was forever changed. The series filmed from the time I was in high school up until the early 2000’s. I’ve watched a few of the latter episodes since I’ve had the free HBO (acquired in anticipation of Game Of Thrones), and only now do I realize the answer to 14 year old me’s question, “Why are these people acting like this?!” was always, “Oh, they’re on drugs.” The over sharing, the lack of inhibitions, the… having sex in a dirty ass cab. Yeah. Drugs. I guess when I was 14 I thought only hardened criminals did drugs. There was this one episode where this couple get in the cab (I believe this was a Las Vegas episode) and the man played with his new magic light up thumbs (a trick illusion he had just purchased at a magic shop) while his lady friend took her boobs out and mashed them all over the place. He was transfixed on his thumbs and she was… well, mashing her boobs all over the place. If you don’t want young kids to experiment with drugs, don’t try to scare them straight. Just show them the video of the coked out wanna-be magician and his free spirited companion. That shit freaked me out.

COMMENTERS: TWO QUESTIONS!  1) Was there anything (a joke in a movie, a tv show premise) that just didn’t register with your younger self? I didn’t know the premise of Three’s Company, despite having seen every single episode when it originally aired, until I was in my twenties. 2) Did you have any movies/shows/albums/website (for you young-uns) that taught you about something in the world that you just weren’t ready to know?

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64 Comments

  1. Though I can't take credit for it one of my favourite examples of this is a mother attempting to explain how something can "Hurt So Good" after her son got curious about the song lyrics on the way to school one morning…

  2. It took me two seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race to get the repeated chanted mantra of the show: "Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent".

    As a kid I never got "Soap".

  3. The whole abortion part of Dirty Dancing went RIGHT over my seven-year-old head. And in fact was not something I realized until I rewatched it as a twenty-something.

    Also, like, EVERY one of Rizzo's double entendres in Grease.

  4. I've always loved "Airplane!" and "Airplane 2: The Sequel", it was only later that I realized that I didn't really get most of the jokes. Same with any Mel Brooks movie.

    • Oh yeah! My favorite part of "Airplane!" was blowing up the autopilot. Yeah, I was five. I didn't get the reference.

    • I may have watched Airplane and Airplane 2 almost every day during my summers as a child and thought it was hilarious and I was so awesome for being allowed to watch a grown up movie. (I was 4 when it came out and probably saw it at 7or 8. It seemed very adult.)

      And then I watched it in my twenties and my reaction was mostly "OHHHHHHHH I GET IT."

  5. Growing up I always thought the criminals cornering a female in a dark alley were just trying to steal her purse. Luckily the hero always shows up in time to protect her virture lol.

  6. Watching anything with the Muppets when I was 5 and rewatching it when I was 20, I might as well have been seeing two completely different movies. SO many jokes that went right over my head the first time.

  7. The darkness and somewhat adult topics of Ren&Stimpy went unnoticed until recently (intoxicated me noting "this shit is dark!"), also subversive topics in Nightmare Before Christmas (drugging, Sally "killing" herself, adults shooting Santa out of the sky…)

    • I tried to re-watch some Ren and Stimpy and accidentally tuned in Ren and Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon. WAAAY, off the charts inappropriate, not even subtle.

      They just straight out allude to Ren being the top and Stimpy being the bottom.

  8. I must admit, as a child i did not get even a fraction of the adult jokes that are crammed into fresh prince of bel air, i always just laughed at will making everyone feel stupid and carlton dancing and what not

    It's only now that i'm an adult that i get all the various sex jokes and what not, hidden throughout the series

    Sadly that last line applies to most of the shows i watched as a kid in the 90's

  9. I watched every episode of In Living Color when it was airing, and there is NO WAY I understood even half of the jokes. I think I just liked the slap-stick, over-the-top nature of it.

    I also watched Se7en when it first came out, snuck into the theater to watch it, because it had Brad Pitt, whom every 14 year old girl had a crush on. I had NO CLUE what the movie was about, and couldn't unsee many of those images for a really long time.

  10. I know there's a better example that's not coming to mind right now, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I got the "never get involved in a land war in Asia" joke in Princess Bride.

  11. I'm 22 and I just realized last week that the reason Wakko said "goodnight everybody" was because the writers thought the censors were going to pull them off the air for whatever joke they just did…also, the "fingerprints" vs. "finger Prince" joke.

    • Really? I understood that to be the code they used when they managed to slip something past the censors. And yes, the "finger prince" joke was probably the worst one they managed to get on air.

    • My 6 year old daughter has tried to watch that show, but its SO INCREDIBLY 90's REFERENTIAL that almost every joke, even the ones I got as a child, are over her head. She doesn't know who Bill Clinton is or why he "plays the sax."

    • It was Yakko who said "Good night, everyone!". (Nit: picked)

      Some of the jokes/premises on Animaniacs went over my head not because they were dirty, but because they referenced/parodied adult pop culture. Like the parodies they did of Les Miserables, Apocalypse Now, and The Seventh Seal.

  12. I don't think there was a single show that went over my head as a kid, but a couple years ago a friend of mine pointed out that, essentially in almost every film/TV show prior to 1992, women were very much second-class citizens. There are some notable exceptions to this rule, but holy crap was he right. When I watch 80's TV or movies, the sexism is off the charts compared to most of today's shows (Mad Men aside).

    • I recently borrowed the first season of "The Fall Guy" from a coworker. I gave it back after watching the pilot. I thought I was gonna get some nice, nostalgic, fun 80s TV. Instead I got incredibly blatant racism and sexism. Holy shit, how did I not get that earlier?!?

  13. A saw A Chorus Line on stage when I was in junior high and again when I was in college. The whole part about the guy having sex with older men in the back of the movie theater? I have no recollection of that from the first time I saw it. It must have gone so thoroughly over my head that I didn't even notice it.

    Also I saw Barbarella in a theater when I was maybe 10 and literally everything went over my head but I was nonetheless appalled.

  14. For me it was the end of Clue when Mr Green says "I'm going to go home and sleep with my wife." I always laughed when I was a kid because I knew it was supposed to be a big punchline. It wasn't until many years later that I figured out what the joke was.

  15. I am "pert-near" 40 years old and literally EVERY episode of Tosh.0 "teaches" me something I very seriously don't want to know about.

    Usually someone on TV mentions a sex act by name, I turn to my husband and say "what is that?"
    He painstakingly verifies whether I really do want to know that, and then shows me on the internet.
    And then I say (scream?) "OHMYGODTHAT'SATHING?! HOWISTHATATHING? WHATISWRONGWITHPEOPLE!"
    And then I curl up in a ball for a few days trying not to be touched by anything.
    And then it happens again.

  16. 1. Ghostbusters. I assumed it was wholesome family fun because my brother, just a few years older than me, was allowed to be a fan of it in grade school. Then I picked up the DVD when I was old enough to get the jokes about sleeping above the sheets (like four feet above the sheets!), and the ghost opening Ray's fly and "Okay, so she's a dog…"

    • Yeah, I saw Ghostbusters probably 50 times before I was 15 and only after watching it again in my mid 20's did I catch all the dick jokes. I also wonder how much of that "not getting it" had to do with me primarily watching the sanitized for TV versions of movies. Maybe that stuff I didnt get wasnt actually there to begin with.

      • But, Keymaster and Gatekeeper. I mean, what do you think Rick Moranis & Sigourney Weaver did when they went up those stairs…

        And, yes, I missed that first time round (and, having just rewatched it on a whim, Rick Moranis' assuming the horse was the Gatekeeper…)

  17. As a child I watched reruns of old Popeye cartoons with my dad. Rewatched them years later and HOLY SHIT did I missunderstand. There’s one about Popeye hunting down and beating his absent father in retribution.

  18. "Look Who's Talking" revealed the existence of sperm, and subsequently led to the discovery of the mechanics of sexual reproduction.

    • I remember being about 12 or 13 (and thus old enough to understand what's going on in the beginning of "Look Who's Talking") but being in a video rental place while it's playing. And there's this like 6-or-7-year-old boy is sitting there watching it while his parents shop, and he's totally confused. Starts asking me, "What're those? Are those tadpoles? Why are they swimming up that tunnel?" And I'm thinking, "No way am I explaining this to this kid…" So I respond "Um, yeah. They're tadpoles. I don't know why they're swimming up that tunnel. Probably a metaphor or something."

    • I think Im right there with you. Pretty sure I had to ask what the tadpole was doing. Also pretty sure I didnt get a straight answer. The "electrical storm" when the sperm met the egg really freaked me out. I assumed that was how it really went down.

  19. My parents took me to see Les Miserables when I was seven. I'm pretty sure I had no idea what was going on at any point during the show.

  20. I love nothing more then going back and watching cartoons from the golden age of the 90s and seeing just how much different (and sometimes more amazing) they are now that I can pick up on all the adult jokes and subtleties. It just makes me sad that a lot of them I cannot find dvds of for the life of me, because there's a lot of shows I would really like to own.

    For myself, however, probably goes to Ren & Stimpy. As a kid, I adored that show, much to the hatred of my parents. A few years back I tried to rewatch it, and couldn't stomach the gross humor of it. I got all the jokes… and I was displeased.

    • Did you mean the "new" episodes from Spike TV? They didn't even TRY to hide what the older episodes cleverly hid. And they weren't very funny either, just shocking and unnerving.

      • Was that before or after the space madness episode? I found that episode not funny at all. Just twisted, deranged, frightening and AWESOME.

        Also, Powdered Toast Man.

  21. When I was a kid in the 70s, my parents were big fans of M*A*S*H. I have a rather vivid memory of watching with them, the episode where Hawkeye is trying to get a free leave pass by faking crazy, and pretends to eat a human liver he said belonged to a prisoner of war who didn't make it. My 7 year old self was completely horrified and disgusted and I remember thinking my parents must be insane because they were laughing so hard. About 8 years later, as a teenager, I was babysitting, saw the same episode on late night tv and laughed my ass off.

  22. For the first question, I watched the Dilbert tv series when it replaced the Simpsons over summer. I was a kid at the time (yes, I'm "old"). I was old enough for most of it to register, but I guess it got lost in the haze of youth, because I didn't even know what it was, and only vaguely understood it.
    A few years ago, after finding out Fight Club is one of the best movies ever made, and reading Dilbert comics etc, I saw the spine of the Dilbert DVD out shopping. Somehow, I recognized it just from the spine. Naturally, it being Dilbert, I bought it, saw the opening sequence, and had a whole bunch of flashbacks.
    (sorry about the length)

  23. Honestly? All the implied gay sex in the Pern novels flew right over my head in junior high, and I loved those books. Apparently I was both immune to subtext and sorely lacking in taste as a thirteen-year-old.

      • Dude, what did you *think* was going on between all of those green dragonriders and the shlubs whose beasts couldn't chase down a gold queen? The green and brown/blue/loser bronze riders are almost certainly knocking boots every mating cycle. Also explains why the wehrs are so much more socially permissive and loose compared to the starchy, conservative holds.

  24. #1: The episode of Seinfeld about abortion. I knew that part was in there and what it meant (between Elaine and her boyfriend), but I had no idea they were also referring to it when Poppy and Kramer were making pizzas. "It's not a pizza until it goes into the oven!" "Itsa pizza da moment you ah putta yo hand in da dough!!!"

  25. For me, it was books. I was let's say, a precocious reader. Had a library card when I was 7 and read books like Delany's Dhalgren and all Heinlen's Lazarus Long novels long before I was out of grade school. I WISH some of it had gone over my head…

  26. That pretty much sums up Ghostbusters and Who Framed Roger Rabbit for me. So many things flew over my little head.

  27. When I was 8 my parents gave me an Eric Idle Sings Monty Python CD and I proceeded to memorize every single song. On a trip to Alberta (we're from eastern Canada) they videotaped of me singing "Sit On My Face (and Tell Me That You Love Me)" in the back seat of the car. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they were laughing so hard.

    It dawned on me around age 13 what that song was about. They've promised to show it at my wedding.

    • Try taping Dr. Demento and other comedy shows of the radio in the 80's, then playing them for your parents on long roadtrips when you're tired of Dad/Mom rock.
      "Chicken Dicks" is one I'll never forget, just because of the looks on their faces…

  28. 2) I read my parent's copy of World According to Garp when I was 11…there is some majorly disturbing stuff in there involving oral sex. Garp was an unpublished author, wrote a horrible rape story. I still read John Irving's work, but I wasn't ready to read it then.

  29. I am betraying my age here (and also am woefully late in posting this comment, sorry) but as a kid, there was a period when I was, I dunno, around ten or so when every time we went to the video store and Mum asked what we wanted to rent, I wanted to see "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and was always terribly upset when Mum wouldn't let me. But it was in the comedy section! The box says it's hilarious! Look, it has Burt Reynolds in it! What the hell, Mum!

    Ends up that Mini!Me thought "whorehouse" was some funny Texan word for a type of warehouse…

  30. The intro scenes to the Tomorrow People and Doctor Who used to freak me when I was 7.

    But generally no. Even when I was 12, Rocky Horror was just awesome. A year later shows like Porkies were cool. But having been raised with things like Monty Python, builds a more robust media brain.

    Re: This comic. Love it … to this older foreign guy, it makes no sense whatsoever 😀

  31. There's a scene in Weekend at Bernie's where Andrew McCarthy sees a woman in a bikini walk through the house. At the same time he's opening a bottle of champagne. When he sees the woman he says "I am getting laid" right before drinking from the champagne bottle. For years I thought "laid" meant "drunk" Once, during a conversation with my father (I was maybe ten or twelve at the time) about why one of the people who worked for him didn't show up on Monday I said "Maybe he got laid Sunday night" I thought I was just saying he got hammered and couldn't function that morning. That was embarassing.

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