There’s been a lot of discussion lately about what is deemed “appropriate” for children to watch in theaters lately. This has been a popular topic since movies were invented, but recently the talk isn’t about how to protect children from the evils of adult-themed films, but instead about the very nature of children’s film’s themselves.
Where the Wild Things Are is just one of the most recent, acclaimed and, therefore, polarizing subjects in a line of movies that seem to some to blur the line between childhood and more “adult” emotions. But what is it about this film – an accessible and beautiful piece of art that touch on real life subjects like sadness, anger, jealousy and the desire to be loved – that is inappropriate for children? Do children not feel sad, angry, jealous?
The NYTimes’ A.O. Scott does a great of dissecting not only the themes behind the film (and similarly realistic motion pictures such as Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox and even classics like the Wizard of Oz), as well as the cultural phenomenon that causes some to question whether honest, if unsettling, feelings are “appropriate” for children.
“Sometimes we make too much of the division between generations, which is after all not a gap but a continuum. Every adult is a former child, just as every child is an incipient adult, and at their best, children’s film and literature (which of course are almost never made by children themselves) is an attempt to communicate across this distance.”
In my opinion, these movies are the real type of art that children and parents can relate to and discuss together. Just because something is beautiful doesn’t mean it can’t be sad. And just because something is sad, doesn’t mean it can’t be great.