3.13.2005

Children's Films....
a wonderful blend of entertainment and propaganda

as a father I have the pleasure of watching many children's films
we watch the same films over and over and over again
some films are better than others
some films are as entertaining for me as they are for my three and half year old son Dean
Grant's only pleasure at 13 months with TV is turning it on and off... he loves the response he gets
some films are entertaining to me even though I have seen them over a hundred times
sometimes when Dean and I watch a film it is a great little bonding session as we discuss what is happening on the screen

to me the television is not so much the "babysitter with the blue glow"
the television is a tool for entertainment, education, and fun
sure I may try to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon as we watch a film, Dean will not let me.. but I try... it is always the same routine... as my breathing reveals me drifting off to a sleep state... sure enough... Dean weans over and shouts in face.... "Daddy, no sleeping!"
for the most part... I like to watch the films with him and discuss what is happening
helping him to understand the film
helping me to understand his understanding of the film and the world
always trying to make sure that he does not get scared
always amazed at how much he understands and often how much he does not understand
(children can be very literal.... some times they are just watching the action on the screen with no concern for plot... many of their favorites have very little plot, Power Rangers ((which I hate)) is a good example, Dean just likes the fighting and the flash)

tonight Dean and I watched one of the films that is not in the usual rotation
we have watched it many times, but not with the frequency of some of the other films
as Dean develops his understanding things becomes such that it is as if they are being experienced for the first time
that is how things went when we watched the beautiful animated film SPIRIT

Spirit is one of those many films that has a pretty obvious subtext
in this animated feature, like most films, there are clear cut good guys and bad guys
in this film the main character Spirit (who is a horse) is a good guy as well is the Native American character
the bad guys.... the white man (the US Calvary)
Dean grasped it all pretty well
we talked about things as they happened and he built on the ideas as we discussed them
Dean also got excited to see the horses run and jump as he told me that he did not realize the horses could run and jump like that
but it was Dean's ability to empathize with various characters boggled my mind.... his ability to use and reuse the word and idea of FREEDOM intrigued me
as Spirit was tied up.... Dean talked about how he wanted to run free and be with the eagle
as the various riders tried to ride him... Dean expressed how Spirit did not want to be ridden, that he just wanted to run FREE
then
when the herd of horses yearned for Spirit to be with them... Dean spoke in detail of what must be going through the various horses' minds
this is a moderately anti-US film... stressing the negative side of our expansion across the United States
where we robbed animals and people of freedom
in this film the horse and the Native American Indian were treated with the same level of disregard as well as with the same brutal unethical methods of punishment
(well, in some cases we drove animals and people to extinction)
it is an ugly history... a history that continues today
but I do not want to start getting all anti-Bush right now
this blog is not about Bush... but about children's films

enough with Spirit
let me go through a quick synopsis of some other children's films with a hidden message

Don't Eat Meat!
this is a favorite topic in the children's film world
Babe; that movie with that cute talking pig. Clearly a film that will make a few young children vow to never eat meat again.
Chicken Run: this is even more obvious... they are plotting an escape so they do not become chicken pot pies! I love CHICKEN POT PIES!
Finding Nemo: the sharks start a support group to aid in the effort to stop eating fish with a little slogan to help them through the process, "fish are our friends"
yesterday Dean asked why the SCUBA divers catch the fish... oh no... had to talk about fish tanks... and how we like to take animals away from their families and keep them as pets

let me see if I can think of some others...
perhaps some films that try to guide children to an idea other than vegetarianism
(this blog topic was in my head on a bike ride the other day... but it seems I left the details and the flow on the bike)
Iron Giant is must see classic that has a message that I really enjoyed. This message is anti-gun. The other day as Dean and I left the dollar store. Dean was upset because I would not buy him a gun. Not buying him a gun was as much a matter of me not wanting to buy him a gun as it was a fear that his grandfather would get irritated by having suction cup bullets streaming about the room. As we drove back from the store Dean started to quote the main character Hogarth in Iron Giant. The specifics are not important. It is just an example of a case where the message if picked up by the child, whether we like it or not.
In this case... I like it.
Guns are for chumps.

okay
another blog attempt that may or may not make it to the PUBLISH AND POST
I have had a number of these lately
thoughts that I want to BLOG about
but somehow I feel I am missing the mark
not developing ideas with a Beginning.... Middle.... and End



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