Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I don't get it...

On Saturday, Rylan and I made a quick visit to the library to grab a couple of books.  She requested a video, so we checked out the movies in the children's section.  We have watched most of the them, but I spied a title that we had yet to see: Where the Wild Things Are.  I would like the Universe to know that, in the future, I would appreciate a little more guidance when it comes to picking out movies, because this one just sucked all life out of the room and left us confused and feeling sad that we had just wasted away some very precious minutes of our life watching something so completely pointless.

Oh I know...  "It's art".  "It's an expression of how difficult the transition is from childhood to adolescence".  "It's a boy trying to sort out some very intense feelings".  Blah, blah, blah.  It's either some screenwriters on a really bad acid trip, or a sad attempt to work out some long over-due childhood issues.  It is by far the worst film adaptation I have ever seen of a children's book.  Children will not understand this movie.  I'm an adult and I don't even understand it.  It's violent, sadistic and depressing.

Now for the good parts.   The cinematography is beautiful. (like the image above, for example).  Jim Henson's Creature Shop did an amazing job with the costumes.  I love the character of Judith.  She has a wicked dark side and I actually found her quite funny.  I also sort of like the randomness of some of the parts.  Like the giant sheepdog running through the desert, or the two owls - Bob and Terry, who get knocked out of the sky by KW.  Sometimes, if you are in the right frame of mind, random sh!t like that is hilarious.  But not in the middle of the afternoon, when you are watching it with your 5 and 11 year old, and they are lost and confused about what is going on.

Jordan requested multiple times that we just turn it off.  He got especially upset when Carol (the main Wild Thing), ripped off the wing of Douglas (the bird).  A whole bunch of sand poured forth from the gaping wound as he did so.  Jordan was up and out of the room at that point... and Rylan was non-plussed.  I thought it was absolutely unnecessary to include a scene like that.  You're marketing this film to kids, remember?  How many dirt clod wars has this movie spurred on - and how many kids went to the emergency room with head injuries because of it???  I do have to say that in the later scenes, whenever you see Douglas, it's pretty funny that he used a spindly little stick as a replacement for his wing.  Sick and wrong, yes.... but funny all the same.

To add to our misery of the day, Rylan chose (from among her library books) a book called Thirteen Words by Lemony Snicket as her bedtime story.  I have not read any of Lemony Snicket's other stuff, as of yet.  I do have the entire selection of A Series of Unfortunate Events left over from my classroom days.  Jordan has yet to show any interest in reading them - which may be a good thing since I hear the storyline is dark and has questionable subject matter.  This particular book that Rylan picked out - a picture book, was just released in 2010.  Again - flowery reviews about the ingenuity of the writing and stunning artwork.  For me, it just left me confused all over again.  I don't get it.  Rylan thought parts of it were funny - so maybe to just read it through a child's eyes is what you need to do.

Here is what I think happened when this book came to fruition.  I think Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) took a bar bet.  Someone wrote down a list of 13 random words and bet him that he couldn't make a story out of them.  I guess you could say that he won - because he did write a story...per se.  Unfortunately it doesn't make any sense.  This experience, however, is not a total loss.  It gave me the idea that this could be a fun and creative writing/dictation assignment for Jordan and Rylan.  Jordan can write his story, and Rylan can tell me hers (and I'll write it down) and see what they come up with.  I'll use the same list of words, but have them work on this separately, and then read their stories aloud at dinner.  Hmmmm  (wheels are turning...)

One more aside that could fit here under the 'I don't get it" heading...

Last Saturday Rylan and I were out selling cookies.  We were walking down one side of the street, while two sisters were riding their bikes down the other side.  A fight broke out between the two, and the little sister stormed off down the street.  Big sister goes into their house and informs their mom that the little sister is 'running away'.   Mom comes out and yells at the little sister to come back.  Little sister keeps on walking, claiming that big sister is too mean.  Mom takes off after her, yelling all the while.  She threatens that she will call the police and report the little sister as a runaway.  She repeats this threat about three more times.  Little sister just keeps on walking/crying/screaming "NO! I won't come back!".

Rylan just watches this whole event unfold, amazed.  (Under my breath) I inform Rylan that the mother made a bad choice in telling her daughter that she was going to call the police.  That implies the little girl is a 'bad' girl and that the police are something to fear.  What a screwed-up message!  The mother doesn't even hear what the little sister is trying to tell her - that the big sister is being mean to her.  I hate that Rylan saw this ugly scene, but it was a good chance to have a discussion about:

* don't run away from your problems
* don't run away PERIOD
* The police are in our community to help us, not punish us
* don't threaten your family members - love them enough to listen

I just don't get it when parents act like that.  I grieve for this little girl and the amount of therapy that she will need in the future.

So.  For today's agenda... a little less culture (movies and books) and a little more nature.  That ought to set the world right.

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