I often wonder what kind of image I am portraying to my son; what kind of image of a man am I portraying when he looks at me. Believe me, I make my mistakes and am not always proud of the words that come out of my mouth or the tone in my voice. I monitor not only what he watches on the television, but also what I click on when I think he may not be paying attention. Trust me, they are ALWAYS paying attention. My days of watching action films, South Park, and really anything over a PG-13 rating before 9pm are long gone. But what happens when the image of a man is skewed by circumstances out of your control?
I recently ventured out of Uptown, as I often do on business,
and came across this scene pictured in the attached photo. In my single days, an image like this would not have caused a second thought, but now as a parent I found it troubling and frightening. Luckily my son was not with me at the time, but this was in a high traffic, high crime area with many young children making their way to school. The images on these "rugs" depict a classic '80s movie character who happens to be a narcotics dealer holding a smoking machine gun, and a gunned down '90s gangster rapper with the message underneath "How long will they mourn me."
Don't get me wrong, I am not a "prude" when it comes to artistic integrity. My work as an actor has put me on many film sets with questionable material. I do believe in "artistic freedom." But what happens when that "artistic freedom" spills over to our street? What responsibility do we hold as a society to help shield our children from the images and the inevitable outcome of the characters on these "rugs?"
Ryan lives in Uptown with his wife, Pascale, and 5-year-old son, Leo, and works in Chicago as an actor and on-air host.
See more of Ryan's stories here.