A long time ago, I found myself getting really mad at some conservative hipster whose name I don’t really remember. Gavin something or other. He made this video for a Canadian conservative platform called Rebel Media about how video games are for children and for children only and adults need to stop playing them and instead do “useful” things like build a table or something. No joke, he said we need to learn construction and do that instead. Yeah, because adults sitting in a room yelling about a sports game on TV is now less of a waste of time to some people. I may hate sports, but I don’t go around saying that those who watch it for viewing pleasure are immature and need to be doing something else with their time.
Found myself getting into an argument with Liana K on Twitter about Rey in the new Star Wars films. I genuinely did work to be mature and argue the points she was making. I didn’t just rage at her. That’s not how I go. See, I genuinely do believe that Rey is a Mary Sue. There’s no way to argue against that. She has no personality, is amazing at everything, and never grows throughout the length of the films. Yeah, a Mary Sue. Liana tried to postulate that the men in the original films are just as bad since they are good at stuff without you ever seeing them get better. My argument was that you don’t see Han training as a pilot, but the films take time to address the fact that he is a good pilot, and in the original film you have Obi-Wan talking to him where he can brag about his skills. That’s smart. It helps set up his role in the film. We do see Luke training, but here’s the thing – he starts out from the bottom. At first he is an imbecile who can’t even make rocks levitate properly. But over the course of three films, we see his character go from a rank amateur, to a student that takes on an enemy way above his weight class, to a Jedi knight who is able to face his darkness and succeed.
However, I get on Twitter this morning and I see her making these really long posts saying that the whole thing was just an endeavor to prove a point – that people care too much about films that are “FOR KIDS.” Huh. You know, Liana, I would agree with you on one thing – the new films are for kids. That’s it. They are glossy, child-friendly films. But you know something, the original films aren’t. They are timeless. Telling a very good story about the hero’s journey in space. We have characters that we grow to like overcoming the odds and becoming different people by the end. I know it’s easy to look at the Ewoks and think that all of these movies were just made for kids, but that’s simply not the case.
This argument that something is “just for kids” as a reason why we shouldn’t care about it is interesting to me. I would argue that if the idea is that we should have no problem with films that talk down to people and treat you like you’re stupid, we have really lost our way as a society. The “it’s for kids so who cares if it sucks?” argument. Maybe I was a precocious little shit as a kid. See, I grew up watching films like Fantasia and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The former being a marvel of animation that had complex imagery and tackling various things in a beautiful way, set with classical music; and the latter being an amazing film about a driven man and his quest to destroy the violence of mankind. Was that too complicated for me? No. I loved and still love both films. They are, what’s that word again? Oh, timeless. They are just as good now as they are then. Just like how The Nightmare Before Christmas is a timeless fairy-tale about a man who was unsatisfied with life and learns what matters.
Timeless films stand on their merit because we’re still watching them now. We are able to enjoy them now from a different perspective. We aren’t the little children who watched them and was awed by them then. Now we are adults who can see that there were some great ideas in there, or we can marvel at the craftsmanship of them. Who is going to be doing that with The Force Awakens? How about Rogue One? I definitely know no one will with The Last Jedi. This idea that we should just let bad movies go unaddressed because it’s for kids really seems not only patronizing, but insulting to kids. Why is it I should just be cool with the idea that we should feed kids crappy entertainment? I’m aware there is a ton of crap made for kids, but shouldn’t we aspire to have them grow up appreciating better things?
I know if I ever had a kid, the first thing I would show them from the evil corporate monolith that is Disney is my second-favorite film of all time – Fantasia. I want them to see the wonder of 2D animation set to classical music with narratives and visuals that don’t talk down to them. I’ll show them Don Bluth’s masterpiece The Secret of NIMH, telling a very mature story about a mother who goes to insane lengths to save her child, constantly pushing past her own fear and finding a power in herself that saves her family. I’ll show them FLCL, which tells a story about a kid growing up and feeling very alone, only to be shown how to live a full life. The timeless stories that stand tall now, just like they did then.
But hey, maybe I’m alone in all this. Maybe parents just want to put their kids in front of a screen and have their attention be taken up for almost three hours. No joke, that’s how long the new Star Wars film is. As for me, Groj-forbid I ever become a parent, I intend to introduce my kid to books first, because I’d rather see them sitting and reading for hours on end instead of being in front of a screen.
To Liana, your little test just showed me how you see the world. Not a lot of respect being gained for you right about now.
Until next time, a quote,
“It’s junk food. Brightly-colored junk food for the mind. And I hate how it talks down to kids while offering nothing of value in return.” – Nostalgia Critic