Sunday, 29 November 2009

Simple Childish Pleasures Colonised by Dick Heads

We went to see The Fantastic Mr Fox in the weekend, and while I thought it was a great film in a lot of ways, I was also profoundly disappointed by it. My kids adore Roald Dahl stories and are big fans of the original story, so they were very excited by it all. However, in the movie itself I could sense their eyes glazing over while George Clooney wrestled with his mid-life crisis. It made for a funny and joyous mid-life crisis movie, but the pre-pubescent subversiveness of the original had been dispensed with in favour of the longing of aging Gen Xers for their slacker youth.

The upcoming movie version of Where the Wild Things are seems to follow a similar pattern of taking a magical childish work, that thrived on a lack of explication, and turning it into a labouriously tedious examination of adulty alienation. A conversation on FaceBook with Jonathan McCalmont about the Christmas window displays on Oxford Street, which have abandoned childish notions of a magical Christmas in favour of avant garde expressions of decadance and sensuality crytallised this issue for me recently. What the hell was wrong with fairies and Father Christmas?

It seems to me that even while we complain about children growing up too fast - over-sexualised, exploited by manufacturers of shitty toys and junk food, opressed by an educational system obsessed with results, and constricted by "PC health & Safety" (tm Daily Mail) culture - our creative people are reaching back and stealing their culture and taking if for the adults.

For god's sake, leave them something other than Transformers and Barbie to enjoy. It's a strange world where a cynical commercial juggernaut like Star Wars looks good in comparison to the alternatives!

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