Somebody Reads Too Much Into “Go the Fuck to Sleep”

From Slate:

The odd, rageful, beautiful little book’s inspiration lies in the commingling of insipid bedtime story rhymes with the inner monologue of the wildly irritated parent: “The owls fly forth from the treetops./ Through the air, they soar and they sweep./ A hot crimson rage fills my heart, love. / For real, shut the fuck up and sleep.” The stylish parody relies for its humor and frisson on a certain level of frustration, an over- the- top, pent-up fury toward one’s children, because without that fury, it’s simply not that funny. The idea of saying “shut the fuck up” to a 3-year-old is hilarious and enthralling only if you are channeling an awful lot of that “hot crimson rage.” As one Amazon reviewer puts it, “The sanity we give up as conscientiously-parenting adults makes bonding experiences like this so worth it!”

In Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Freud writes about the “hostile purpose” of jokes. He argues that jokes are liberating and give us pleasure when they articulate the anger we are not allowed to express in everyday life. Here of course, that anger or hostility is aimed at children, at big-eyed toddlers padding around in their strawberry pajamas, and that is what is both exhilarating and disturbing about the book. There is a nastiness in Go the F**k to Sleep, an undercurrent of resentment that is comic, or “cathartic,” as another Amazon reviewer put it, only to parents who are pretty radically subjugating themselves to a certain kind of kid-centered drabness, and judging from the book’s runaway success, that would be a lot of parents.

2 Comments

  1. Yes, what utter horseshit. ‘Subjugating themselves to a certain kind of kid-centered drabness”? What the fuck is that suposed to mean? (I know what it means, of course: it means “Look at me! I’m a better parent and a better person than all of you!” Smug little shit.) Sorry, filled with hot crimson rage right now…

    My own main problem with ‘Go the fuck to sleep’ is simply that Tim Minchin already did much the same thing with his ‘Lullaby’, but so very much better. Look it up, it’s on YouTube.

  2. I’m gonna guess this fucker either has no children or ignored them. I love my kids dearly but there are times they can really get on my nerves – every parent I know says pretty much the same thing. Am I angry? HELL YES! Am I suppressing rage? HELL YES! It would be unhuman not to feel that way after a long day at work and then having to deal with a cranky or active kid at bed time.

    The difference is an adult will say “Go the fuck to sleep” in their mind not aloud & then laugh at the experience when shared as cleverly as it is in that book.

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