Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” is playing on the radio. I listen to the sweet, lulling voice of Annie singing merrily on the chorus, with an undertone of anger, as she bellows out her empowering lyrics.
“It’s a hard knock life for us.
It’s a hard knock life for us.
Instead of kisses we get kicked.
Instead of treated we get tricked.”
I find my thoughts sinking into the bowels of the media, which I am willingly a part, paving my own way by openly examining my own kind. Movies like “Annie” present mind investigators like me, a deep subject matter upon which to draw.
“Annie” coined the phrase, “It’s a hard knock life.”, which became the tag line for boomer American parental answers to each other and their children.
“Jimmy is beating me up at school!”
“Well, kid. It’s a hard knock life.”
“I’m really struggling financially.”
“Yeah, my friend. It’s a hard knock life.”
It became a phrase of dismissive, feigned empathy, as the media quickly gnawed its way through the heart of American parents surviving Regeanomics, The Iran Contra Affair and Judge Clarence Thomas’ infamous pubic hair incident, by sitting, disheartened and hypnotized into fantasy lives being presented to them from an electric box.
While “Annie” had hit the theater stage with poor attempts, it would find instant success when it hit the Hollywood big screen in the year of 1982.
Generation X was around 12 years old. They were resisting against the fierce and extremist ideals of their baby boomer parents who were either hippies or adherently religiously extremist, and hypocritical.
The teenagers of the eighties were being labeled the problem children of society, scapegoats for parents who had failed them miserably and refused to bear the weight of their decisions.
Kids were being pulled into the foster care system by the droves, as drugs like crack became rampant on the streets. Children of color and Caucasian poor children took the hit, targeted by police and CPS.
Rich parents wiped their hands, paying alarming sums of money to boarding schools, also popping up in large numbers, promising to redirect their children into the model citizens the parents dreamed about. The boarding schools became wealthy. The children were damaged. The parents were swindled.
Still, “Annie” swept America, winning awards even today as it is performed by drama departments in schools across America, with little girls who vie for the chance to play the lead role.
What does Annie tell children?
Annie normalizes the abuses which we see so rampantly being exposed in foster homes and boarding houses.
Dissecting Annie’s story, shows a mentally and emotionally abused child in the foster care system. She is sleep deprived, belittled and overworked. Enter the dream come true named Daddy Warbucks, a rich, Caucasian male who saves Annie and grooms her for his elite society, by giving her a “good” life.
Yet, Annie is portrayed as the seductress. She is the charming child who is so naturally adorable, that Daddy Warbucks cannot resist her. It isn’t his fault that Annie is so cute. Ultimately, Annie is given the lead role of the child who wins the heart of a man with her innocence.
Annie’s abuse is covered by her romanticized savior and apparent ability to be an illusionary ray of sunlight, all while living in a foster care home where she endures less than humane treatment.
Given the many arrests and exposures involving CPS and the foster care system, which have surfaced over the past few years, the question could be posed if “Annie” was possibly a blatantly open message from the media, directly to pedophile rings, that foster homes were open for business.
As the child victims are now adults and telling their stories, one can only wonder how a government funded system committed so many heinous acts with zero monitoring from the institutions giving them the funds to run their operations.
As of 2016, around 400,000 children are in foster care in America. Are these children being trafficked in a sick and multi-layered society which has been growing beneath the surface of public awareness for the past thirty plus years?
As stories are being exposed, so are the media connections which have controlled and manipulated the minds of Americans for decades. The connections between politics, the media and pedophile/sex trafficking is a pyramid for which there is the worst of scams; the victims and their broken families.
Karen Donovan, freelance writer