As a father-to-be (just recently became that father - ed.) I get a lot of people advising me that I will no longer be able to watch the kinds of films I enjoy because my life will suddenly be filled Finding Nemo and other such nonsense. No more porn and exploitation. Forget about Gaspar Noe. Art films? As long as there
is nudity, violence or cursing, I’m told, it can’t happen.
I’ve never been one to listen to other people, but I hear this line of bullshit so often that I start to get a bit pissed. I don’t know why people assume I’ll be happy to raise my child as an idiot just because that is the route they’ve chosen to follow. I’m going to travel a different road. You see, my wife and I are going to raise our daughter to know the difference between fact and fiction, and we aren’t going to mind if she wants to see something like House of 1,000 Corpses because we’ll be secure in the knowledge that she knows it’s only a film. “Besides,” I always tell these brain damaged parents, “children’s movies are hideously bad and don’t do much to help their intended viewing audience.” Hence, ten things I hate about children’s movies.
1: Randy Newman. This man used to be an edgy pop singer. (Remember his song about selling Africans on the idea of slavery?) Nowadays, he’s a joke who will compose any song on any topic at any time. He has no integrity, and his voice guarantees I will absolutely detest any film I hear it in. Randy Newman doesn’t write good songs anymore. He writes sap and sounds like a pedophile when he sings. That’s entertainment?
2: Disney gives a flawed view of the world and its history. It’s true. Disney presents the Disney point of view on everything it touches, and it has hit rock bottom with the making of films based on its rides. If Disney cannot be trusted to give a historically correct version of things, why would parents take their children to see its films for their “moral messages,” as one father told me he does with his kids. Do parents think the morals in the film will be any better than the history lessons? And let’s not even talk about Disney ripping off the idea for The Lion King. What moral lesson does that teach? It’s okay to steal ideas and not credit them if only a few people know about it?
3: The animation in American movies sucks. It’s gotten better — even the computer stuff — but I’d much rather have my kid watch “Akira,” with its stunning animation, than “The Land Before Time” any day. On the upside, if I did LSD, the animated movies would be a pleasure to watch.
4: The stories are too black and white. I understand these are movies for kids, but it gives them a weird perception of the world. I also understand that kids can’t grasp all the same concepts as adults, but that doesn’t mean we should dumb things down for them. How else are they to learn?
5: The characters are cliche. I don’t watch a lot of children’s movies, but when I do, I always see the same damn characters in different clothes. You’ve got the heart-of-gold guy (always good looking), the heart-of-gold girl (always good looking), the mean character, the bumbling crook, the well-meaning-but-kinda-dopey friend, and so on. Again, I understand that kids won’t be able to handle the multidimensional characters that can be found in a Kubrick film, but come on! Give kids something to sink their teeth into! If you give kids a challenge, they’ll rise to it. Hey! Here’s a jackass with Eddie Murphy’s voice! What a breakthrough.
6: Children’s movies throw in humor for adults in an effort to keep parents from getting bored. This “adult” humor is often nothing more than thinly disguised sexual jokes and cultural references designed to make parents feel smarter than their kids. Oh, and fart jokes.
7: Adults who tell me the latest kid movie was “actually pretty good.” Okay, this isn’t really the fault of children’s movies, but I still blame them. For some odd reason, more and more of my adult friends are watching children’s movies, and most of them don’t have kids! When “Agent Cody Banks” and “The Lizzie McGuire Movie” came out, I had a married couple tell me they enjoyed both movies and that it was a “Hilary Duff summer” for them. They don’t have kids. Thank God.
8: Children’s movies talk down to children. There’s nothing worse than being a kid … and nothing better. You can play all the time and be as messy as you want. At the same time, nobody takes you seriously, and everyone thinks you are a drooling moron. Now why would a kid want his entertainment to hammer that point home for ninety minutes? When I was nine, I didn’t want to see movies for my age group because they made a Three Stooges short look like brain surgery. Parents, ask your children how they feel about the film you’re about to drag them to on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Ask what they would like to see. If you’ve fed them a steady diet of poorly animated, brightly colored slop, my guess is they’ll want to see whatever is being pushed on Saturday morning television because you (and the wonderful world of mass media) have created a consumer. A child exposed to many different types of movies, however, may have a request that surprises you.
9: Dr. Seuss. What children’s movies have done to this man and his memory is a damn insult. It’s repulsive, and somebody should be forced to pay for it.
10: Movie cross-promotions and merchandise. I blame “Star
Wars,” one of my favorite movie franchises, for this. That showed the world what
the marriage of toys, other products and movies could achieve. The beast, however,
quickly got out of control. The fact that The Cat in the Hat was used to promote everything from Burger King, to mailing options, to household cleaning products — and the movie got like one good review — should tell us that this has gone too far. It makes kids beg for crap they don’t need, and it makes parents buy crap they can’t afford in order to silence their brood. That said, I personally can’t wait for “Rugrats” condoms.
When I was a kid, I was really into Kiss, not Shaun Cassidy. That was stuff that was being fed to other kids, and they were eating it up. I liked horror movies and found Disney films to be a tad boring. Many of my friends loved Disney.
Today, I listen to Nashville Pussy and eagerly await the sequel to Battle Royale. My friends are listening to CDs by the latest singer/songwriter that Entertainment Weekly is promoting, and they are buying advance tickets for The Haunted Mansion. I grew up into this, and they turned into … that.
I don’t want my daughter to grow up into them. I want her to be a girl who stands on her own two feet and is smart enough to know why Hollywood targets her with such garbage. Will I get my wish? I don’t know, but I won’t give in without a fight. Hell, I had a guy call me an asshole because I laughed at him when he told me he took his wife to see Brother Bear. I wasn’t laughing at him, though. I was laughing at the situation, but I think I was the only one getting the joke.
I hope my daughter gets the joke. If not, I’m in for about a decade of the worst movies ever made by humans, and I sat through Man Made.
God, I hope she gets the joke.
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Posted on May 6, 2004 in Features by Doug Brunell
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