Fairy Tale Controversy, Part 3: Modern Times

[Previously:  Fairy Tale Controversy, Part 1 ; Fairy Tale Controversy, Part 2: Coming to America]

Fairy tales are no less controversial today than they ever were in the past. The arguments against them echo some of the concerns of the past, and add new ones. Sexual content or innuendo in tales for children is still prohibited. We are less concerned about maintaining class distinctions, but we definitely have a lower tolerance for grisly violence than audiences of the past. And we have added the relatively recent concerns of racism and sexism to the mix. As well, parents today seem inordinately bothered by death scenes in children’s literature. In past times, the death of a parent, of a mother in childbirth, of babies and young children was much more common than today, and therefore found a place in the literature. Today we seem uneasy with the very subject, a modern preoccupation.

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Watching Old Movies

Wouldn’t it be pleasant to sit down and watch a movie with your kids that wasn’t presold on sequels and Happy Meals? Or take them to an action movie that didn’t either freak them out or weigh down their little bones with premature irony? – Ty Burr, The Best Old Movies for Families

When I talk about Old Movies I don’t mean going back to Toy Story 1, or even aaall the way back to the first Star Wars (though 1977 does seem long, long ago in a galaxy far far away)… I’m talking about Oooooold movies here.

You may not have any interest in old movies, indeed, I realize not everyone has spent a lifetime loving them like I have. But if you are old enough to be a parent, you are certainly aware of how much movies have changed since the flicks you watched as a kid. They’ve changed for the better, in terms of technology. The complex visual and sound effects of modern movies absolutely boggles the mind. (Just compare a Harryhausen Sinbad movie to Avatar!) And they’ve also changed for the worse… can you even imagine a world in which there were no teen slasher horror films?

Whether or not you know much about old movies, when it comes to picking films for family movie nights, there are many good reasons to turn to the oldies…

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Know Your Movie Ratings

A few words on Movie Ratings…

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) selects the familiar G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 ratings for motion pictures.

It is important to fully understand these ratings and their drawbacks, however, before relying too heavily on them.

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A study of Violence in G-rated Animated Feature Films!

Maybe I’m a total geek but I found this very exciting, even though it’s over 10 years old. First I found a reference to the study in this book:

The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work for Your Kids, by Dimitri A. Christakis and Frederick J. Zimmerman (New York: Rodale, 2006),

and then I found the actual study online:

Yokota, F. & Thompson, K. M. “Violence in G-rated Animated Films” in the Journal of the American Medical Association 283 (May 24-31, 2000): 2716-2720.           (see the full study here)

It covers animated films of feature length (at least 60 min.) that were rated G, released theatrically in the U.S. and which were “available for review on videocassette” by September of 1999, including 74 titles.

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.