Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Despereaux Fix

Writing in the XX Factor on Slate, Emily Bazelon addresses a question we've been pondering over here. It is: Why are kids movies so scary? And why is Despereaux scary, too?

When my kids first saw the trailer for Depereaux, they were transfixed. I told them when the movie opened I'd go see it and decide if it was OK for them. Before I could, my husband logged onto the Despereaux web site and after watching a few scenes, my 4-year-old daughter came to me with a miserable look on her face and said, "I think I'll wait until I'm 7 to see Despereaux."

Bazelon points out that many movies for 4-7-year-olds all seem to have some kind of terrifying element. Not just sad, like Bambi, but terrifying. Why is that? Is there a belief in the movie industry that kids need more titillation now then when we were kids because they see so much more so much sooner. But they see so much so young because that's what's there to see and if it's cold and there's not much to do, do you go to the movies and grin and bear the scary bits? Why do they have to be shown so much so soon? Why is the excitement and suspense ante up so high?

I know this is a little bit like asking why can't we all just get along, but, come to think of it, why can't we? besides, the world is big and confusing and plenty scary for 4-year-olds as it is. It's a fine line between teasing that fear (as in fairy tales) and exploiting it and it's a long time since I've seen even an ad for a movie that seems to walk the right side of that line. Maybe Toy Story? In any case, for the time being, it's cupcakes and Dan Zanes for us.

Happy New Year!!

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