Have you noticed that kids are getting softer? Of course I'm getting older and that whole “when I was you're age” thing is kicking in... during the 80s there was no closer relationship than that of my mum's wooden spoon and my arse.... these days that's child abuse. Weekends saw me out the door at first light and I only came home for lunch... these days its about loafing on a couch and playing video games. To venture outside is a real effort for heaps of kids these days.
And what ever happened to kid movies? Gone are the days of genuinely enthralling adventures, excitement and suspense. Remember going to the movies when you were a kid and seeing the Goonies being chased by gun wielding maniacs? Or how about feeling the sheer terror of G'mork (the ferocious wolf) in The Neverending Story? Add to that list, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and countless others.
The world had changed since then... we are faced with war, poverty, terrorism and climate change on a daily basis. The world is a scary place to raise a child right!??
I believe kids are far too protected from some of life's more important lessons. We teach them about love and compassion and yet we shelter them from fear and sadness. I believe these are two fundamentally important aspects to a well balanced upbringing.
Family/kids movies are a large part of my video store's demographic. Mums come in looking for a quick fix to shut their kids up. It is amazing how many parents shelter their kids from anything that's borderline scary (even Scooby fucking Doo). One mother told me last week that her belief is that “we need to keep them kids for as long as possible” and with that her 10 year old daughter was too frightened to even look at dvd covers such as Aliens In The Attic or Jumanji. Thats some seriously disturbing shit if you ask me. Must we wrap our kids in cotton wool?
Over the past decade the quality of kids flicks has degenerated dramatically. These days the studios are pumping out carbon copy movies like Madagasca, The Wild, Over the Hedge and Surf's Up… and they get away with it because today's kids are nonethewiser and protected from the important stuff.
Of course there are exceptions and I have seen some brilliant family films over the past few years but sadly the majority of them slip right under the radar (Mirrormask, Millions, Seconhand Lions, Alabama Moon.. etc).
It's time to toughen kids up. Let 'em eat dirt and let 'em have nightmates and don't stress about the short term consequences. You're the parent and it's your job to nurture these fears... but trust me, in the long term the kids will be stronger for it!