Ah me, I love it when the comments provide blogfodder. Amy sez:
Ambivalent about Where the Wild Things Are. I’ve heard it’s too scary to take young children to, and I wonder, then, what’s the point? Because I was excited to bring my boys. (I like In the Night Kitchen better anyway.)
Yeah, I’d heard that Maurice Sendak had a few words for people who thought it was too scary for kids, and there was a follow-up article as well – well, more than one, probably, but that’s the one I read. Both articles made a point that I tend to agree with, which is that childhood is a much darker time than grown-ups remember, and while they should be sheltered from many things, they can handle some scary – in fact, they need to be able to confront their fears in a safe environment.
So I would be very skeptical of any claim that it’s too scary for all kids, by which I don’t mean kids of all ages because yes I know older kids can handle more than younger kids; I mean kids of all characters. There are kids like Ignatz, who at 7 explained to me that Nemo’s mom and siblings had to die in the first scene of Finding Nemo, because if they hadn’t there wouldn’t be a story. Then there are kids like the Sniglet, who used to cry anytime someone on the TV looked sad.
I think the cardinal rule here would be Know Your Kid – know what their fears are, what they’re coping with. I was a nervous child, and the end of Bambi was completely overwhelming for me. The fact that, when I saw it, I hadn’t seen my own mother in two years? Yeah, that probably didn’t help, although to be honest, I bet I would have freaked out anyway. I tend to inhabit movies a little too much, which is why I could never be a movie reviewer, because there are whole genres I can’t cope with, even now.
I read that Where the Wild Things are has a violent father-figure and a smothering mother-figure. I think that’s more helpful than a sweeping “not for kids,” because then I get to decide whether these are issues in our family that might be problematic for my kids, and maybe I should screen it first. So I think the second rule would be that reviewers should not decide what is or is not for all children, but should indicate what sort of themes are addressed.
Not that I disagree with Amy in any way: I just used her comment as a jumping-off point. Thanks, Amy!
Song du jour of the day: Endlich ein Grund zur Panik (Finally, a Reason to Panic), by Wir sind Helden.