Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bring back Shirley Temple

Okay. I don't consider myself to be one of those people who spurns everything produced by modern media. We watch the occasional Disney recent release and Hermie and Wormie have a place in our hearts. We went to see The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything and Happy Feet with Sofi in the theater.


This week the free movie at the downtown theater was Snow Buddies. A kind of variation on the Air Bud theme. Remember that one? Well, let me just say that this movie is abysmal. Just plain, downright rotten. Total junk. Have I made my feelings clear? I hated really disliked it. Here's my beef:

Why does Disney (and other movie makers as well, I'm just picking on Disney for now) think it's a good idea to completely undermine a child's normal and healthy respect for and trust in adults? Why are adults always the stupid ones, the bad guys and/or the overbearing/misunderstanding/rigid/untrusting/fun-killing party poopers? Especially parents. Parents are the worst. Parents tell you that since you are only eight (or maybe nine?) you aren't allowed to 1) buy five more dogs, 2) train them to pull the sled that you--the father-- crashed in last year, killing six good dogs of your own and nearly losing your own life into the bargain, and 3) enter your team in "the toughest dogsled race in Alaska"-- miles of "grueling terrain" to compete against the best adult teams in the world, including Sweden (incompetent), France (stupid bad guy) and some other slavic country I didn't catch the name of (negligible).

But the moral of this story is that, 1) if you "pray" a "wish" in a generally upward direction for five more dogs, he/she/it will send five golden retriever pups to your door, 2) you can train them in 30 minutes of long shots across the snow and three pep talks from spooky old sled dog about "teamwork", 3) your parents will never find out what's going on even though you spend every waking minute out in the Alaskan wilderness with said pups, 4) you can outsmart the entire adult population of a small town and 5) WIN! the "grueling", "toughest in the world" race and 6) you dad will apologize for not realizing that "this is your time" (not joking).

Bleh. Pardon me while I barf up all my common sense.

I don't think I'm over-reacting here, either. I think it's a growing trend in movies to vilify the adults and make the kids smarter, faster and stronger. Now, don't get me wrong, I took a course in writing for children. I know we need child protagonists and heroes so that kids will be engaged in the story and able to identify with the main characters. I dig that. My problem with the trend I'm seeing is that I want my kids to see adults cast in noble roles-- in addition to all the kid heroes. I want them to look up to adults as role models. After all, we do want them to become adults some day, right?

I look back on some of the movies I remember from my childhood-- and I guess they were old even then. Davy Crockett, remember that one? And Bambi? What about The Apple Dumpling Gang? And all the Shirley Temple movies. In each of these there are child (or baby animal) characters, but there are in addition, noble adult characters who protect, care for, and generally look after the child protagonist(s). That's what I want my children to see/hear/read for entertainment. Stories that stretch their minds and imaginations and are exciting, but that re-enforce the idea that Mommy and Daddy (and other adults) are here to look out for you and they really do know best.

It may be a while before we see another Disney movie made in the last decade. And I will certainly be previewing it ahead of time.


Matt and Laurie Beardsley said...

lol.....I love your post. Common sense! Ha! I agree. Last time I checked, golden retrievers do NOT pull sleds....I mean, can those dogs even SURVIVE in snow???

Matt and Laurie Beardsley said...

And now my serious comment. I think this is a trend, not only in movies for children, but in television as well. Matt and I frequently comment on the "stereotypes" (but they probably shouldn't be called that) that t.v. sitcoms and commercials rely on. On shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond", "The Simpsons", or "The Family Guy", even current movies and commercials the husband/dad/adult male is usually a messy, lazy, moron. The wife is a "neat-freak", overbearing nag who spends most of her time, parenting her husband.

Although I won't say this isn't funny at times, I know that it annoys Matt to watch a husband treated more like a child (but probably with even less respect than that). If t.v. sitcoms, and commercials and DISNEY movies aren't safe any more....

At least we know that there are plenty of opportunities to talk about these issues with our kids!

Rachel said...

I totally agree with you Lisi! We are sooo careful what our kids watch, maybe on the overly caution end. But I think that I'd rather go that route than have them see something I'm going to regret later.
You're right about the state of movies these days. Most movies made with the last 10 years (and even longer than that) won't be watched by our kids unless we've seen them first and then that usually means that they won't be watching them at all!
When we have our family movie night, I carefully choose which movie to watch and Collin has never been to the theater to see a movie yet. I'd love to take him, but so far there has been nothing to take him too!
Thanks and keep careful watch on what the kids watch!!!!