Monday, June 10, 2013

A Comprehensive Breakdown of the Fresh Prince's "Parents Just Don't Understand"


"Parents Just Don't Understand" is a song that I have been meaning to break down for a while. Probably like 25 years, because this song is brilliant and also one of the most inappropriate songs ever written. Somehow it has avoided scrutiny. Well, Fresh Prince, if that is even your real name, today is the day that you pay the piper. I would hope you have already heard it, but here is a video for those uninitiated.

Now onto the lyrics.

You know parents are the same no matter time nor place
They don't understand that us kids are gonna make some mistakes
So to you, all the kids all across the land
There's no need to argue, parents just don't understand

Okay, this is actually all very acceptable. Parents be parents just as women be shoppin.

I remember one year
My mom took me school shopping
It was me, my brother, my mom, oh, my pop, and my little sister
All hopped in the car
We headed downtown to the Gallery Mall
My mom started bugging with the clothes she chose
I didn't say nothing at first
I just turned up my nose
She said, "What's wrong? This shirt cost $20"
I said, "Mom, this shirt is plaid with a butterfly collar!"
The Fresh Prince and I are totally on the same page on this one. This shirt is hideous. Sadly, this shirt is very likely to be fashionable soon if it is not already. Since I am in my late 20s, I have no idea what is cool with the kids these days.

The next half hour was the same old thing
My mother buying me clothes from 1963
And then she lost her mind and did the ultimate
I asked her for Adidas and she bought me Zips!

I just learned that his Mom did not buy him "zits." That never made sense, but you know, parents don't understand, and maybe his Mom bought pepperoni to rub on his face.

Oh, and what are Zips? They are just crappy shoes...with awesome commercials.


I said, "Mom, what are you doing, you're ruining my rep"
She said, "You're only sixteen, you don't have a rep yet"
I said, "Mom, let's put these clothes back, please"
She said "no, you go to school to learn not for a fashion show"
I said, "This isn't Sha Na Na, come on Mom, I'm not Bowzer
Mom, please put back the bell-bottom Brady Bunch trousers

This is Sha Na Na; I have a totally new respect for this opening verse.
There is so much that is going on in that picture. I...I can't even...words cannot do that photo justice. Let's move on.

But if you don't want to I can live with that but
You gotta put back the double-knit reversible slacks"
She wasn't moved - everything stayed the same
Inevitably the first day of school came
I thought I could get over, I tried to play sick
But my mom said, "No, no way, uh-uh, forget it"
There was nothing I could do, I tried to relax
I got dressed up in those ancient artifacts

He probably should have just worn his clothes from the year before. Even if they were a little small, I would think it would be a better solution. Come on Prince, you've got to know the basics in staying Fresh.

And when I walked into school, it was just as I thought
The kids were cracking up laughing at the clothes Mom bought
And those who weren't laughing still had a ball
Because they were pointing and whispering
As I walked down the hall

I wonder what those kids were thinking. Like, "Wow, that guy looks like a real asshole in those clothes, but there ain't no way I'm gonna laugh at The Fresh Prince. Let's just point and whisper, out of respect."

I got home and told my Mom how my day went
She said, "If they were laughing you don't need them,
Cause they're not good friends"
For the next six hours I tried to explain to my Mom
That I was gonna have to go through this about 200 more times
So to you all the kids all across the land
There's no need to argue
Parents just don't understand

I would just like to pause that just about everything in this first verse is completely understandable from The Fresh Prince's perspective. He tried to reason with his Mom, and she just wouldn't listen, and it really ruined his first day of school. This is all understandable. I point that out, because this second verse is in no way, shape, or form, understandable.

Oh-kay, here's the situation
My parents went away on a week's vacation and
They left the keys to the brand new Porsche
Would they mind?

Yes, very much so.

Umm, well, of course not

You are not accurately thinking like your parents.

I'll just take it for a little spin
And maybe show it off to a couple of friends
I'll just cruise it around the neighborhood
Well, maybe I shouldn't
Yeah, of course I should

Oh, Fresh Prince, I understand your teen angst and that you must drive their Porsche, but this will turn out to lead to numerous bad decisions later on.

Pay attention, here's the thick of the plot
I pulled up to the corner at the end of my block
That's when I saw this beautiful girlie girl walking

This is the whole reason that I am writing this post. This whole scene is SOOOOO messed up. Please continue, Mr. Prince.

I picked up my car phone to perpetrate like I was talking
You should've seen this girl's bodily dimensions
I honked my horn just to get her attention
She said, "Was that for me?"
I said, "Yeah"
She said, "Why?"
I said, "Come on and take a ride with a helluva guy"

I really would like to find a way to reenact this scene but finding a random girl on the streets to get her part right would be really tough. And, I'm not sure the best way to respond when a girl tells me, "Go fuck yourself." Come on and take a ride with a helluva...shelf? Elf? That doesn't seem quite as charming.

She said, "How do I know you're not sick?
You could be some deranged lunatic"
I said, "C'mon toots - my name is The Prince
Besides, would a lunatic have a Porsche like this?"
She agreed and we were on our way

Woah, woah, woah. This scenario would never come close to playing out in real life. At least, dear god, I hope it does not happen in real life. If this is why there are so many missing girls, then some of the blame has to go to the ladies, because they ought to know better. These are very good questions from this young lady, but she should not accept these answers. If a man has a nice car, calls you "toots," and refers to himself as, "The Prince" run for your life. There is no positive outcome in that scenario.

She was looking very good and so was I, I must say - word
We hit McDonald's, pulled into the drive

Thought in Fresh Prince's head, "Just picked up a hot date, better take her to the best restaurant in town. You know my motto? LL Big M - Ladies Love Big Macs."

We ordered two Big Macs and two large fries with Cokes
She kicked her shoes off onto the floor
She said, "Drive fast, speed turns me on"
She put her hand on my knee, I put my foot on the gas
We almost got whiplash, I took off so fast
The sun roof was open , the music was high
And this girl's hand was steadily moving up my thigh

This is an incredibly disturbing thought if you know where this song is headed. So, so, very disturbing.

She had opened up three buttons on her shirt so far

Oh, God, that is WAY worse.

I guess that's why I didn't notice that police car

That's bad.

We're doing ninety in my Mom's new Porsche
And to make this long story short - short
When the cop pulled me over I was scared as hell
I said, "I don't have a license but I drive very well, officer"

That's worse.

I almost had a heart attack that day
Come to find out the girl was a twelve-year-old runaway

WHAT? 12? 12 years old? A twelve-year-old? This song was recorded in 1988, which would have made The Fresh Prince 20 years old. I don't think I have ever, even when I was 12, thought, "You should have seen this girl's bodily dimensions," about a 12 year old. When I was 12, I wasn't thinking that about 12 years old. When I was 20, I didn't come across many 12 year olds, and I certainly didn't drive around town in my 1993 Mercury Tracer trying to pick them up off the street. Not to mention this was a runaway, meaning that this girl was either in week-old clothing or simply down to wearing a potato sack. That is what got The Fresh Prince to think, "Wow, that girl is beautiful. I love her My Little Pony backpack and how she is playing with Barbies on the side of the street." That's way fucked up, and this was a popular song that nobody saw any issues with 25 years ago. This song will never be covered, because the person who sings that would immediately be brought in by the FBI for questioning. Anyway, let's move on...

I was arrested, the car was impounded
There was no way for me to avoid being grounded

GROUNDED? You're worried about being grounded? That should be the least of your worries. In all honesty, you should be ecstatic that you got arrested before you committed statutory rape. I would send those cops a nice fruit basket.

My parents had to come off from vacation to get me
I'd rather be in jail than to have my father hit me

Dude, you have no idea how close you came to finding out that jail is way WAY worse than having your father hit you. Your butt was nearly turned into a community glory hole.

My parents walked in
I got my grip, I said, "Ah, Mom, Dad, how was your trip?"
They didn't speak - I said, "I want to plead my case"
But my father just shoved me in the car by my face
That was a hard ride home, I don't know how I survived
They took turns - one would beat me while the other was driving
I can't believe it, I just made a mistake

No. No no no no no no no. That is not a mistake. Forgetting to lock the door is a mistake. Leaving the windows open with the AC on is a mistake. Nearly committing statutory rape is most certainly not a mistake.

Well parents are the same no matter time nor place
So to you all the kids all across the land
Take it from me, parents just don't understand

Sure, he almost went to jail for 20 years, but you really should have seen this 12 year old's bodily dimensions.

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