Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nobody Likes Your Well-Balanced Child

I feel like I'm an elderly person reminiscing about "the good old days" whenever I watch children's entertainment. I'm the opposite of parenting councils though, because my comments go something along the lines of "that's not even trippy," or "that puppet's not disturbing enough for anyone under six." Speaking to the parents of today, I warn that censoring kids' viewing habits is directly correlated to your child's lack of taste. Just look at the films targeted toward kids today... If anything in Harry Potter is scaring your children then they simply weren't raised properly.

Here are just a few kid flicks I can look back on with grateful nightmare nostalgia. Although now I'm wondering if the reason modern parents are so strict is very much because they were raised on movies like these...

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Ye old parades and carnivals are always fun... unless you're there being hunted! These kids are on the run from an evil carny with supernatural skills and he even places tarantulas in their beds! The lesson here, parents, is that children won't overcome their fears unless you first give them something to fear.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Never take candy from a stranger, even if it's dressed up in nutritional value.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
I acknowledge that Johnny Depp channeling Michael Jackson is chilling, disturbing even, but the modern spin holds nothing to that psychedelic boat ride. It's baby's first acid trip!

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going

There's no knowing where we're rowing

Or which way the rive
r's flowing
Is it raining, is
it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing
Not a speck of light is showing

So the danger must be growing

Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing

Yes, the
danger must be growing
For the rowers ke
ep on rowing
And they're certainly not showin
Any signs that they are slowing

Childhood terror is centipedes crawling as Gene Wilder sings a hushed foreboding tune under strobing colored lights, and the prospect of having to share your shanty with four crippled grandparents in a single bed.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Dick Van Dyke sings and dances in his flying car. This guy steals children.

Return to Oz

The evil Mombi has a sizable closet to rival that of Carrie Bradshaw. Hers is notable more for its designer heads. Not only does she get her pick of hairstyle, she also gets the pick of cheekbones, eye color, and neck attachments. The original Oz had its unnerving flying monkeys and sinister bad sisters, but it also had gay lions and a magical Emerald City. This time Oz is rubble surrounded by quicksand, the merry people are headless, and the Emerald King doesn't want to help you get home as much as he wants to eat you.

The Witches (1990)
Bald women with wigs, purple eyes and stubby shoes that think all kids reek of feces... They're not only found on public transportation, they're all over England! Anjelica Houston rips her face off, little Luke's parents die in a wreck, Grandma's got diabetes, and the weekend you finally booked that posh hotel suite it's overrun by vermin and a business convention.

What beloved childhood films have caused your emotional scarring? And will the children of the future be remarkably happy or just lame?


kindertrauma said...

First of all, spot on list! I do worry for this generation raised on pampering movies! Gone is anything that would have kids questioning the decisions they make or worrying about getting in over their heads. Instead they have glorified commercials that paint a world where everything is for their taking. (basically the exact opposite of what we learned from the spoiled Veruka Salt in Willy Wonka!) People seem so worried that there kids will experience a moment of discomfort (or self questioning) that they've thrown out some of the most important morality lessons that have existed since Goldylocks broke into the bear's house. Oh well, I guess kids today have a much scarier actual world to live in so maybe that will make up the difference!

P.S I also agree with you on the Jon Hamm!

Adam said...

You're right, the real world is scary enough so the damage is done, these might have even softened the blow...

Your child terrorizing site is a good example of this. That 'Plague Dogs' post got me to see that movie and it did the trick of crushing my soul completely as an adult.

Anonymous said...

The Dark Crystal was quite scarring, too, with all the Skecksies sucking out little peoples essences.