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#1 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wasn't sure what forum to put this in, hopefully this one is appropriate.

I've begun to be very disturbed by a recurring theme I've noticed in children's movies and am wondering what you all think about it. It seems that every kids' movie has a plot line that features the main character becoming separated from their parents/family/group and then having to rely on strangers(possibly people with whom he'd never normally associate) to make it through the rest of the events in the movie, sometimes returning home, sometimes not. I'm mainly thinking of movies for young children(think animated, Disney/Pixar) as I have a three year old.

Has anyone else noticed this? What do you make of it? Are you disturbed by it? Thanks for input
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#2 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:16 AM
 
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What bothers me more is the disrespectful attitudes of characters in many movies and TV shows.

I think the lost theme has been going on for decades - Bambi comes to mind immediately. If you think about it, kids movies have pretty harsh plots.

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#3 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:18 AM
 
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Most children's books seem to involve children who are orphaned or otherwise separated from their parents so that they have a scope for the big adventures they are going to have. I'm 43, and that was the complaint I have about a lot of the books I read as a kid. It was one of the reasons I didn't want to read the Harry Potter books 11 years ago. Oh great, another kid, orphaned and mistreated by his guardians.

I read the Little House series over and over again, one of the few series I read that had a strong family unit. I guess some other books did, but a lot involved children on their own. So it doesn't really surprise me that the same happens in movies.
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#4 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:20 AM
 
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I don't like the theme, but it's certainly nothing new. Stories like that have been around for a very long time. I think because way back when it wasn't all that unusual to lose a parent while you were still young. It was also before stranger danger happened.

Luckily for me my six year old hates movies, so I haven't had to deal with any of this kind of thing yet. I assume it could be a good way to get discussions going about sensitive topics?

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#5 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:31 AM
 
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If you review literature and movies extending back as far as you can into history, I think you'll find that it's a common situation. There is nothing new about fictional children separated from their parents, through death or unfortunate absence...

Fairy tales - Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast etc.
A Little Princess
Alice in Wonderland
The Wizard of Oz
Heidi
Oliver Twist


Even in stories like Winnie the Pooh, the parents are absent. It's difficult to have adventures with Mom and Dad present. Narratives require a conflict to be introduced and (usually) resolved. Parents usually prevent conflict or resolve it for their children. It's convenient for authors to dispose of parents in order to carry on with the story they want to tell.
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#6 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I realize it's not a new theme, I was just wondering if anyone is bothered by it. But it sounds like mostly you just view it as a convenient story telling device?
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#7 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 01:41 AM
 
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Internally it bugs me. I don't like the whole separation thing.. but for them it is an intriguing/touching plot that rakes in the $$$.

We don't do Disney though For other reasons.

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#8 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 02:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
So I realize it's not a new theme, I was just wondering if anyone is bothered by it. But it sounds like mostly you just view it as a convenient story telling device?
I don't recall being disturbed by these kinds of plot situations when I was child, other than within the context of the story e.g. I was desperately unhappy for Sara Crewe in The Little Princess, who wouldn't cry for Jane Eyre at the terrible boarding school, etc. Since most children's stories are resolved with a happy ending, I think I learned early to trust that the author would work things out fairly satisfactorily eg. Anne was a plucky orphan who found a wonderful new home at Green Gables. My own children weren't upset either - again, I think they trusted the storytelling process.

I know it is very disturbing to some children, and thus to their parents. There are a few old threads from parents looking for gentle stories for their sensitive children. In case you are looking for suggestions you can do a search. I suspect you will find more book threads than movies.

There is a saying that there are 2 basic stories in Western literature - someone goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town. For children, both of these plots are often easier to tell if parents aren't along for the ride, unless the parents themselves offer something to the narrative.
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#9 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 02:15 AM
 
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A further thought:

Developmentally, the most important thing for children is the process of becoming independent. Since it's a universal, many (most?) narratives will reflect this theme to some degree. It's helpful to provide children with opportunities to work through this experience vicariously. Of course, some stories will provide better examples, role models, and guidance than others. And some stories are just better than others.
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#10 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 02:39 AM
 
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Disney is notorious for kids going mom-less. I hate it. The only good mom is in Treasure Planet.

But yes, I also hate the obnoxious, rude kids in Tv thing and I did not let my littles watch crap like that.
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#11 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 02:48 AM
 
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Disney is notorious for kids going mom-less. I hate it. The only good mom is in Treasure Planet.

But yes, I also hate the obnoxious, rude kids in Tv thing and I did not let my littles watch crap like that.
the reason for disney not having mums in movies especally the early ones is walt disneys mum died when he was a little boy hence the theme of bambi etc being without a mum i have walt disneys auto bio
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#12 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 02:51 AM
 
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That's the basic premise of just about any children's tale or story or book ever told or written. There is a lot of literature about it out there.

The plot of most children's books is that kids have an adventure and face some sort of serious obstacle and figure something out on their own. To do this, they need separation from their parents. Otherwise, the parents would fix (or at least provide a lot of help fixing) the situation, as a good parent would when their child is faced with a serious obstacle. And that wouldn't be a very interesting story.

So, no, it doesn't bother me at all. That's the sorts of stories most kids are drawn to, and it's good for them to imagine themselves as independent problem-solvers. Children practice separation by imagining it, and stories provide an image-rich environment in which they can explore emotions and fantasies freely.

What sort of confuses me is people who think that Disney invented this. I'm hard pressed to think of a single traditional fairy tale or children's novel written well before Disney that doesn't involve the children being orphaned, running away, shipped off to the neglectful uncle who lets them roam free for the summer, and so forth.

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#13 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 02:53 AM
 
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the reason for disney not having mums in movies especally the early ones is walt disneys mum died when he was a little boy hence the theme of bambi etc being without a mum i have walt disneys auto bio
But Walt has been gone some years and Mulan is the only character with a mom besides Jim of Treasure Planet... unless I've missed something.
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#14 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 03:09 AM
 
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But Walt has been gone some years and Mulan is the only character with a mom besides Jim of Treasure Planet... unless I've missed something.
The mom lives in The Lion King - it's the father that dies in that one. The Princess and the Frog has a mom, I think. The pups in 101 Dalmations have both a mom and dad.

If you include Pixar things, there's a mom in The Incredibles and Toy Story.

At any rate, the theme of being lost/on adventure alone doesn't bother me. When I was a kid, I liked to picture myself as the protagonist of my own adventures and I liked stories like these. Parents are safe and comforting, thigns that don't really lend themselves to excitement and adventure.
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#15 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 03:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not thinking that Disney invented this storytelling device, I was just using their films as an example, starting point because that's what first got me started thinking about it. But then, as you all have pointed out, almost every kids' story shares this device. I was thinking it would be nice to see an example of a family working together to solve a problem or have an adventure, to see an example of being able to count on your parents for help. But it seems the general consensus is that it's just a more interesting story without parents.
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#16 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 03:30 AM
 
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I'm not thinking that Disney invented this storytelling device, I was just using their films as an example, starting point because that's what first got me started thinking about it. But then, as you all have pointed out, almost every kids' story shares this device. I was thinking it would be nice to see an example of a family working together to solve a problem or have an adventure, to see an example of being able to count on your parents for help. But it seems the general consensus is that it's just a more interesting story without parents.
Keep in mind that most of these stories are written for children older than yours and mine I think that the idea that books and movies can be for very young children is very, very new. When we were kids, there were no movies or TV for babies or toddlers... even Sesame Street was for 4-6 year olds. Alas, there is money (a lot of money... about $2 billion dollars a year) to be made in the under-3 market, and the people who design these shows obviously see no need to reinvent the wheel when coming up with storylines for their shows and movies.

But, at the same time, I don't think that it's entirely developmentally inappropriate. Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy being very independent, and they're so egocentric that they can take or leave parents at any particular moment. Many popular preschool characters have no parental presence, and it still works as a device to have the child figure out problems on his/her own. Others have a strong parental presence, but the device still involves other characters to guide the protagonist. I'm thinking of Sid the Science Kid, which is one of the very few kids shows that I like. He has a very strong family support system that reinforces the daily lessons, but the bulk of his learning still occurs when he ventures outside the home to discover things with his peers. I think that definitely appeals to preschoolers, who are very curious about the world outside their homes and who are just starting to be developmentally ready to form peer relationships.

The "age compression" issue, where young kids are now being exposed to things that were intended for much older kids, is something to keep in mind when watching movies and shows that weren't made in the past 5 years or so with the under 3 market in mind. Most Disney movies, most children's movies, most children's TV shows that were created before the 0-3 market became the largest media growth industry, are NOT designed for kids younger than school age or so. Whether it's appropriate for your child is definitely up to the individual child: some 3 year olds might be perfectly okay with Bambi, others might be scarred for life, and I have a feeling that most wouldn't have the faintest idea what was going on. I don't think that mine would! Bambi is kind of an extreme situation (imo... I, personally, am in the scarred-for-life camp. I've never seen it all the way through! And I didn't see it for the first time until I was someplace in elementary school and we had a VHS player), but the same is true of similar movies and media.

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#17 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 03:31 AM
 
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My kids, at least, are drawn to the stories where the parents have minimal roles or are absent. I think they get a real sense of empowerment when they read stories like that. Our son read every 120+ of the Boxcar Children (grandfather is minimally there, but really, he's just the deep pockets that funds their adventure), and dd has just finished reading every one of the blasted Rainbow Fairy books where the parents are also minimally there.

IMO, most 3 year olds are not ready for movies yet. I know I'm in a minority, but developmentally, they can't follow the full story arc and have trouble linking the scary climax with the resolution. Add to that the fact that my children in particular are quite sensitive to visual images, and we haven't done very many movies (and very few in theaters because my kids are sound sensitive too).

There are good books/movies where there is no separation. The movies we've done are:
Mary Poppins
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both versions, one has a different name)
Cinderella
Cars
Veggie Tales Pirates Who Didn't Do Anything

Only Cinderella has death/separation from parent, and she's 'older'. And my kids didn't care for it all that much. We're not TV free, but so far, they haven't missed not seeing movies. Now that they're a bit older, we might add them in, but so far there hasn't been much out there that I want my kids to see.

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#18 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 03:36 AM
 
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I was thinking it would be nice to see an example of a family working together to solve a problem or have an adventure, to see an example of being able to count on your parents for help.
There are some stories like this. Upthread, someone mentioned Little House on the Prairie. Swiss Family Robinson comes to mind. The Moomintroll books reflect a strong family unit, although not exactly human! The Wheel on the School by Meindert deJong, an old Newbery award-winner, is a charming little story that shows an entire village coming together. Similarly The Twenty One Balloons by William Pene duBois, another Newbery winner has families working together, albeit the focus is on the protagonist, an unmarried, childless adventure-seeker. Cheaper by the Dozen (the original book by Galbraith) wasn't intended for children, but many enjoy it.

I admit, I have an easier time thinking of books, rather than movies or t.v. shows. Many of these have been adapted for the screen though.
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#19 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 03:40 AM
 
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IMO, most 3 year olds are not ready for movies yet. I know I'm in a minority, but developmentally, they can't follow the full story arc and have trouble linking the scary climax with the resolution. Add to that the fact that my children in particular are quite sensitive to visual images, and we haven't done very many movies (and very few in theaters because my kids are sound sensitive too).
I agree with you. I can't remember when they can start following storylines at all (I used to know this... I think it's around 3), but I imagine that it takes a while beyond that for them to be able to keep track of much of anything for an hour and a half. Today my DD told me about "this morning" when we saw the geese on her way to preschool... that happened last spring! Time is a funny thing when you're 3.

I'm not adverse to screen time, but I do try to keep in mind that she's not really getting much story out of it. She likes the moving images, mostly. And that's okay, and it has its place. Later today, DS's speech therapist is coming and the easiest way to keep her out of the way for an hour is to put on a movie. I've even taken her to a movie theater twice: we saw "Babies" and a version of The Nutcracker last Christmas. The movies that she watches involve a lot of dancing, babies, or puppies and not a whole lot of storyline.

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#20 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I certainly appreciate all the responses. I'm most bothered by movies where there is a traumatic separation from the parents and from that became curious what it was all about and why I couldn't think of a single movie where that didn't happen. We really have only watched Cars, which he adores. And even in that movie there is separation. I guess the troubling aspect to me is the imposed separation, I think if the protagonist wants to set out on an adventure, that's fine, it's just the traumatic nature of the separation that I have found disturbing. And yes, maybe I'm thinking about it in terms of my young child and may not be so bothered by it as he is older, but I just can't shake the curiosity about why. And I totally understand the age-old, global nature of the theme- I have a degree in English and a minor in anthropology. But, perhaps because of that I know that fairy tales, folk tales, myths, etc. have a function in a society and are designed and retold to transmit some sort of information about the group. And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!

And thank you for suggestions of stories which either feature parents more prominently or don't require a traumatic separation to get the story started. I'll check them out.
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#21 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:09 AM
 
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Keep in mind that most of these stories are written for children older than yours and mine I think that the idea that books and movies can be for very young children is very, very new. When we were kids, there were no movies or TV for babies or toddlers... even Sesame Street was for 4-6 year olds. Alas, there is money (a lot of money... about $2 billion dollars a year) to be made in the under-3 market, and the people who design these shows obviously see no need to reinvent the wheel when coming up with storylines for their shows and movies.

But, at the same time, I don't think that it's entirely developmentally inappropriate. Toddlers and preschoolers enjoy being very independent, and they're so egocentric that they can take or leave parents at any particular moment. Many popular preschool characters have no parental presence, and it still works as a device to have the child figure out problems on his/her own. Others have a strong parental presence, but the device still involves other characters to guide the protagonist. I'm thinking of Sid the Science Kid, which is one of the very few kids shows that I like. He has a very strong family support system that reinforces the daily lessons, but the bulk of his learning still occurs when he ventures outside the home to discover things with his peers. I think that definitely appeals to preschoolers, who are very curious about the world outside their homes and who are just starting to be developmentally ready to form peer relationships.

The "age compression" issue, where young kids are now being exposed to things that were intended for much older kids, is something to keep in mind when watching movies and shows that weren't made in the past 5 years or so with the under 3 market in mind. Most Disney movies, most children's movies, most children's TV shows that were created before the 0-3 market became the largest media growth industry, are NOT designed for kids younger than school age or so. Whether it's appropriate for your child is definitely up to the individual child: some 3 year olds might be perfectly okay with Bambi, others might be scarred for life, and I have a feeling that most wouldn't have the faintest idea what was going on. I don't think that mine would! Bambi is kind of an extreme situation (imo... I, personally, am in the scarred-for-life camp. I've never seen it all the way through! And I didn't see it for the first time until I was someplace in elementary school and we had a VHS player), but the same is true of similar movies and media.
ITA!! this makes so much sense. my dd is in the inbetween camp, sometimes she acts scarred for life or very dramatic about "scary" scenes. and other times she could care less. we tend to stick to shows that were originally books and pretty preschool/family friendly.

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#22 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm thinking of Sid the Science Kid, which is one of the very few kids shows that I like. He has a very strong family support system that reinforces the daily lessons, but the bulk of his learning still occurs when he ventures outside the home to discover things with his peers. I think that definitely appeals to preschoolers, who are very curious about the world outside their homes and who are just starting to be developmentally ready to form peer relationships...
Yes, I think Sid the Science Kid is nice as is The Little Einsteins, really it's the trauma of separation that bothers me, not so much the lack of parents.
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#23 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:25 AM
 
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I certainly appreciate all the responses. I'm most bothered by movies where there is a traumatic separation from the parents and from that became curious what it was all about and why I couldn't think of a single movie where that didn't happen. We really have only watched Cars, which he adores. And even in that movie there is separation. I guess the troubling aspect to me is the imposed separation, I think if the protagonist wants to set out on an adventure, that's fine, it's just the traumatic nature of the separation that I have found disturbing. And yes, maybe I'm thinking about it in terms of my young child and may not be so bothered by it as he is older, but I just can't shake the curiosity about why. And I totally understand the age-old, global nature of the theme- I have a degree in English and a minor in anthropology. But, perhaps because of that I know that fairy tales, folk tales, myths, etc. have a function in a society and are designed and retold to transmit some sort of information about the group. And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!

And thank you for suggestions of stories which either feature parents more prominently or don't require a traumatic separation to get the story started. I'll check them out.
Ah, I get what you're saying now.

I think the traumatic thing is, quite honestly, sorta a lazy "hook" into the story. Most older stories don't really require that. Fairy tales without parents usually have a line int he beginning about "um, the mother died and, uh, something vague happened to the father... and now, down to business." With the newer Disney type movies I think it's become the formula to have a traumatic opening scene that captures your attention right away and keeps you at the edge of your seat. I thought that Finding Nemo was so overt about the seemingly endless 10 minute cycles of "swimming... OMG DANGER... resolution" that it kinda got boring after a while. Obviously a movie has to keep you interested, but in this particular case it seemed to really oscillate between extremes and it just came off as sort of lazy after a while.

Now my mind is wandering... it is 3am... I was listening to a radio program recently about the Grimm brothers, and they talked about how originally the published stories were supposed to be an anthropological study for adults to collect these old folk tales. But that adults weren't much interested, and they caught on as children's storybooks for middle class children. And these middle class parents were a little dubious about not only the gore (and I think we've all heard "but the original Grimm fairy tales are full of gore, so that's proof that children can take very scary things!" But those stories weren't really intended for children.) but also about the really negative light that many of the parents were portrayed in. So in the second edition and later editions, the Grimms (the two main brothers, and then a 3rd brother who sort of took over after a while) themselves took out a lot of the gore, and changed a lot of the family dynamics. They really played down the evil parents, and in stories where the evil parents were important they turned them into STEP-parents and just sort of threw something in about how the real parents were really nice but, alas, dead.

So it's interesting that I think your concern also isn't new It sounds to me like the early 19th century concerns about the Grimm fairy tales! And a sort of invention-of-childhood age compression going on there too. The original stories for adults were toned down for the children who ended up being the audience. And now our society is now in a place where the original stories (in the form of books and movies) for older children probably do need to be toned down for the younger children who have ended up being the audience.

But back to the traumatic storylines. I do think that it is often lazy and formulaic and unnecessary. I think that the separation is necessary, but the traumatic separation is not. Sometimes, yes, it adds to the story: the line from The Secret Garden where Mary is told "there's no one left to come" and thus learns that her parents have died and everyone totally forgot about her is wrenching, but it's an essential part of setting up her character as both totally bratty but also very sympathetic. (And, slightly related, it's always been interesting to me that in the movie versions of A Little Princess, Sara's father is alive and they're reunited. I think it was the Shirley Temple version that started that, and I'm not aware of any other versions that don't have a living father at the end. So, sometimes, it seems like movies do try to un-traumatize things and whitewash them. The movie versions always take out the diamond mines, which are TOTALLY the best part). Other times, like in Finding Nemo, I think it's just part of a formula.

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#24 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by angelandmisha View Post
I certainly appreciate all the responses. I'm most bothered by movies where there is a traumatic separation from the parents and from that became curious what it was all about and why I couldn't think of a single movie where that didn't happen. We really have only watched Cars, which he adores. And even in that movie there is separation. I guess the troubling aspect to me is the imposed separation, I think if the protagonist wants to set out on an adventure, that's fine, it's just the traumatic nature of the separation that I have found disturbing. And yes, maybe I'm thinking about it in terms of my young child and may not be so bothered by it as he is older, but I just can't shake the curiosity about why. And I totally understand the age-old, global nature of the theme- I have a degree in English and a minor in anthropology. But, perhaps because of that I know that fairy tales, folk tales, myths, etc. have a function in a society and are designed and retold to transmit some sort of information about the group. And I keep wondering, what are these stories saying to our children? I guess that's my real question. What message is being conveyed here? And before we just start watching and trusting movies to be entertainment I thought I'd explore this more. So I'm very happy to read so many responses!

And thank you for suggestions of stories which either feature parents more prominently or don't require a traumatic separation to get the story started. I'll check them out.
You raise some interesting questions. Purely for discussion purposes, what about narratives with parents who exist in the story, but are written as largely absent from children's lives (and the adventures they have). These parents are written as being unaware of what is happening with their children. There is no traumatic separation, but what kind of message is conveyed about oblivious, perhaps even neglectful parents, and children who essentially carry on secret lives from their parents?

In some ways, a traumatic separation may convey a healthier family situation. The underlying message is that a parent would intervene and solve the problem if they could, but they've been prevented from getting involved. In stories where parents are present but don't get involved, I think you can read in a more distressing message about family bonds and parental roles - if you wanted to. Honestly, though, I don't, because I think tales about children having independent adventures are archetypal stories in our culture.
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#25 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:36 AM
 
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And not to get all conspiracy-theoryish (I get paranoid at 3am when I'm suffering from pregnancy insomnia... sorry about that), but I do worry that the "hooking" of very young children onto this sort of emotional roller coaster at such a young age sets them up for a need for more and more extreme forms of entertainment as they get older. I don't think that it's good for very young kids to be exposed to such artificial emotional extremes... most preschoolers are good enough at coming up with their own emotional extremes just based on day to day experiences! Don't even get me started on what happens in our household if DD gets the wrong spoon!

I have no proof, no study, not even any anecdata... but I still can't help but feel that if your 3yo is watching Finding Nemo (sorry to keep picking on that one movie... I really just used it as an example of what I think happens in a lot of kids movies) then where do you go from there? How could it NOT work to desensitize children to real emotions when they're exposed to such extreme artificial emotions at such a young age as entertainment?

I'm sure others don't agree with me, and as I said I have nothing to back that up. But I do have to say that it concerns me just how violent and emotionally exploitative movies and TV have gotten, and how younger and younger children seem to be the audience for these sorts of things. I don't see how things like the Saw movies can't desensitize a young teenager to the real violence of the world. Even if they logically know that it's not real, our brains work in weird ways and process new information by relating it to old, even in a subconscious way.

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#26 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 04:42 AM
 
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I am not disturbed.

if you look at children's stories historically that IS the recurring theme.

i recall all the stories i have read from russia, native american stories, australian aborigine tales, india and china tales (i have always been a fan of world fairy tales since i was a little girl) and what you describe IS the theme.

children are tricked, abused....

the way i look at it is that it fulfills the purpose of stories. i think stories are ways of sharing real life with everyone.

in fact i rather enjoy these stories because it kinda shows the deeper connection with everyone.

for example the role of animals helping out hansel and gretel. i mean all grimms and anderson did was travel around and collect the stories that are being told. and i think these are coping mechanisms for our children to deal with the real world.

historically the family is always there. there is no need to write about that. its the obvious.

i dont think children are being to exposed to things much worse than they were exposed to many years ago. however the vehicle of expression - books and pictures and movies is what makes it really scary.

i mean look at mother goose. i grew up with mother goose. i remember a LOT of the poems. not once, not once did i connect death with any of the themes. hush a bye baby and robin red breast. i have spoken to moms who also grew up with mother goose and they dont remember ever noticing the dark side of the book either.

i can relate to you looking at it from a anthropoligical point of view.

what is it saying to our kids? is it saying what we think our children is picking up? or are they really just focused on the grand story.

i have shared a lot of the stories with my dd. i tell her stories and sometimes i describe the scary house on a chicken leg with a scary witch in it from russian folk tales. in fact i have some of the original illustrations and they are beautiful. it did not affect my dd. she enjoyed the adventure aspect of it.

in fact if anything i think we go the opposite way. look at books and literature for toddlers and psers. i am not talking movies. i remember most of teh books are buddy buddy tales about getting along with friends, doing stuff with your parents and gparents. and they are kinda boring. to me. and were to my dd. seh wanted something 'fantastic' or adventure. it was really hard for me to find adventure for a 2 year old so i had to revert to story telling. dd's first favourite long book was 'and to think i saw it on mulberry street' by dr seuss.

oh it is sooo beautiful. in just its simplicity. a little boy 'sees' things on his way home from school. to me that book epitomises childhood for me. rather what our children expect out of childhood.

what also concerns me is the vehicle by which these tales are delivered. only thru books and movies. a kind of a flat unimaginative way. both books and movies, but of course movies the most unimaginative out of the two. has anyone ever sat and listened to a story? nothing, nothing to beat that. no book will ever come close to the story told.

i think in this culture we are missing out on soooo much. we are losing so much richness. this weekend i just happened to be sitting close to a puerto rican family spending their day in the park. and the gma was telling the tired gkids a story. i could not understand a single word but oh boy she was such a pro. she kept me riveted with teh tone of her voice and all the different dialogue she was using. i was lucky i had that when i was growing up. but i feel sad that my dd is missing out on that.

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#27 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 05:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lach View Post
And not to get all conspiracy-theoryish (I get paranoid at 3am when I'm suffering from pregnancy insomnia... sorry about that), but I do worry that the "hooking" of very young children onto this sort of emotional roller coaster at such a young age sets them up for a need for more and more extreme forms of entertainment as they get older. I don't think that it's good for very young kids to be exposed to such artificial emotional extremes... most preschoolers are good enough at coming up with their own emotional extremes just based on day to day experiences! Don't even get me started on what happens in our household if DD gets the wrong spoon!

I have no proof, no study, not even any anecdata... but I still can't help but feel that if your 3yo is watching Finding Nemo (sorry to keep picking on that one movie... I really just used it as an example of what I think happens in a lot of kids movies) then where do you go from there? How could it NOT work to desensitize children to real emotions when they're exposed to such extreme artificial emotions at such a young age as entertainment?

I'm sure others don't agree with me, and as I said I have nothing to back that up. But I do have to say that it concerns me just how violent and emotionally exploitative movies and TV have gotten, and how younger and younger children seem to be the audience for these sorts of things. I don't see how things like the Saw movies can't desensitize a young teenager to the real violence of the world. Even if they logically know that it's not real, our brains work in weird ways and process new information by relating it to old, even in a subconscious way.
See, I don't think it's conspiracy theory-ish at all! That's what I'm talking about! I agree with you. It seems everywhere the emotional takeaway is that it's not a safe world you live in little child and your parents can't help you.

Another element of my thoughts was started by hearing about the book, Hold
on to Your Kids. I have not read the whole book, just a sample, but it was making a lot of sense. Then I noticed this movie theme idea and putting the two together made me wonder if these movies are helping to orient children towards their peers instead of their parents? In these movies it is their peers who help them usually, not even other adults. So that's when I really started thinking about this and becoming concerned. Basically the premise of the book seems to be that our society/culture begins to separate our children from us at an early age and orients them towards their peers, which makes it difficult(if not impossible) for parents to have the guiding influence that we should. They say that the educational setting is such that a child who is parent oriented(as the authors say they should be) will struggle greatly and have much anxiety in the setting, whereas the peer oriented child will appear to perform better or be much more suited to school. That aspect struck a chord with me, as I imagine my ds would be totally traumatized to be separated from me at school and
would appear as ill-equipped to function well in a learning environment. As I said, not having read the book, I can only imagine where the author will go with the notion, but I can easily imagine them being in favor of homeschooling.

Anyway, I digress. But that book's idea really has got me thinking about what these movies are doing and I was wondering if anyone else felt this way?

And Lach, I had to try really hard not to wake everybody up laughing about the preschooler's ability to come up with their own emotional extremes based on mundane daily experiences! Too funny!
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#28 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 12:08 PM
 
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When I really think about most fairy tales and nursery rhymes I get pretty disturbed -- yes, there's the ubiquitous dead-mother theme, and in nursery rhymes there's also some really gory, freaky stuff if they're taken literally.

But then I remind myself that the scary aspect of those things never crossed my mind as a kid, so it's probably not crossing my kids' minds either -- they just don't perceive it the way we do.

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#29 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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I think it's a popular theme in children's stores, and always has been, long before Disney/Pixar came around, is because becoming separated from their parents is a common fear for children. People like stories based on issues that they think about a lot. "Thrillers" that adults like are based on the kinds of fears that adults have.
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#30 of 88 Old 09-13-2010, 12:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
If you review literature and movies extending back as far as you can into history, I think you'll find that it's a common situation. There is nothing new about fictional children separated from their parents, through death or unfortunate absence...

Fairy tales - Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Hansel and Gretel, Beauty and the Beast etc.
A Little Princess
Alice in Wonderland
The Wizard of Oz
Heidi
Oliver Twist


Even in stories like Winnie the Pooh, the parents are absent. It's difficult to have adventures with Mom and Dad present. Narratives require a conflict to be introduced and (usually) resolved. Parents usually prevent conflict or resolve it for their children. It's convenient for authors to dispose of parents in order to carry on with the story they want to tell.


Heck, even the Peanuts don't really have parents around.


 
 
 
 

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