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Doug C

The Top100: What's Best for Kids?

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QUOTE(Jason Bortz @ Sep 22 2005, 07:48 AM)
Oh, hey, just noticed Prince of Egypt, our only animated feature--and our only 'children's' feature, I think-- is gone too. I guess I'll have to explain Bresson and Tartovsky to my kids.

Why would you force this list on your kids? I'd give them time. Waking Life is one of our few animated films, and it was unfortunately dropped. Surprising, given its relative valorization around here, but then the voting was obviously much wider than A&F regulars.

In general, I think it's a definite improvement over last year's list.

Edit: The excellent The Miracle Maker is also animated.

 

[Added by SDG] Links:

Edited by SDG

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Why would you force this list on your kids? I'd give them time.

Nono. I think it's important for them to understand that spiritual films require a sophistication. I shall then illustrate my point by juxtaposing Prince of Egypt with Magnolia and ask a few summary questions:

1. Which film gave a clearer picture of God's relationship with humanity? Why?

2. Who was more selfish: Pharaoh or Frank Mackey? Who/what did they worship? Who learned a greater lesson?

3. Which of the plagues was more realistic?

Doug, my original comment was tongue-in-cheek. wink.gif This list will in no way affect how I encourage/discourage the viewing practices of my kids. Don't get me wrong, I like many of the films on the list.

I just felt it a shame to see one of the more straightforward, "child-accessible" and biblical stories go in favor of a largely "mature" and intellectually savvy list. Of all the films above, for instance, there are only a very small handful that would capture my 3-year-old's attentions for an even brief period of time; she'll watch a film repeatedly, all day long--and she'll quote it, remember it, sing along with it and talk about it. It becomes a part of her. And sometimes, especially looking at the list (which I largely and happily approve of, save for letting Fearless and Henry V go), I remember what Christ said, asking me to become as a child...and I wonder if I'm eschewing more 'simple' fare in favor of that which stimulates my 'mature intellect', and if I've forgotten that sometimes the greatest of messages can be found in stories written for children. And though I love (thrive on) allegory, sometimes it overshadows the simplicity of 'This symbolizes nothing but what it is.' Y'know?

Just a moment of reflection--and personal, at that, meaning I don't expect anyone else to share my disappointment that PoE is gone. (And no Iron Giant! sad.gif) I'll get over it. biggrin.gif

And rest assured, I'm not about to force my kids to appreciate Bergman. smile.gif

We're still working on Stanley Kubrick, after all...

Edited by Jason Bortz

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I just felt it a shame to see one of the more straightforward, "child-accessible" and biblical stories go in favor of a largely "mature" and intellectually savvy list.
In that case, I think you or someone should start up a "Top 100 Most Spiritually Significant Movies for Kids" list. I think that would be very laudable. But I see no reason automatically skew a "Top 100 Most Spiritually Significant Movies" list to accomodate kid's tastes. And I actually think there are a lot of cultural problems with doing so that shortchanges adult development, whether it's pastors or movie executives who are doing it. How refreshing to have a reference list that assumes people are intelligent adults for a change.

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Heh, but Doug--it was one film. I'm not attempting to champion the cause of children's films--I thought I made that clear, apologies if I wasn't.

I didn't see the whole list as 'skewed' because, obviously, the 'tastes' ran to more than just kids--PoE was on last year's list, voted upon by people here. I don't believe having it on there last year somehow skewed the list toward an intellectually stunted paradigm any more than I believe having Fight Club on there skewed it toward nihilism or PotC skewed it toward right wing supernatural blood sprinkling victory package pundits or Vanya skewed it toward theatre snobs or or or...

And I actually think there are a lot of cultural problems with doing so that shortchanges adult development, whether it's pastors or movie executives who are doing it. How refreshing to have a reference list that assumes people are intelligent adults for a change

Likewise, there would be a lot of cultural problems if intelligent adults couldn't appreciate and be impacted by a movie made for kids. smile.gif The list is refreshing, yes--but I think it's dangerous to say 'Ah, a Top 100 list with a children's film on it! These people must not be very intelligent or discerning...'

---------

Edited by Jason Bortz

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Incidentally, my son's favorite movie right now is Madagascar.

My daughter's: Mimony Stinkett..

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Likewise, there would be a lot of cultural problems if intelligent adults couldn't appreciate and be impacted by a movie made for kids. smile.gif
Of course, but given the two examples I cited (churches and the movie industry), which of the two do you think gets preferential treatment? I haven't heard people complain that movies or sermons are too smart for them lately...

I understand what you're saying, although your tongue-in-cheek comment about Tarkovsky/Bresson seemed to question their inclusion in particular. As a matter of fact, I'd show a kid (of a certain age) a Tarkovsky/Bresson film long before many other films on the list. But I do think a Top 100 list for kids is a good idea and I'd be happy to participate in coming up with one.

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Jason, I'm agree with you in principle. I think it's easy to equate complexity or sophistication with greatness. But sometimes, purity and simplicity are as potent a combination, and hard to come by.

Whether or not Prince of Egypt deserves to be in the Top 100 is its own matter. (I don't think it does. Too many flaws and concessions to please the audience.)

But the achievement of great art for a young imagination is a rare and precious thing, and I would rate the writings of A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, J.M. Barrie, and J.R.R. Tolkien among the greatest works of literature. What are the GREAT works of imagination for young minds in film? Those should be given special recognition, because they require a different kind of discipline and vision. I think of My Neighbor Totoro, or Toy Story, or Disney's Pinnochio. Are these spiritually significant (a phrase that still confounds me today)?

That's why the more I ponder this list, the more I feel I can't participate effectively. What separates THE GREAT FILMS from the SPIRITUALLY SIGNIFICANT films? To me, yes, Totoro, Toy Story, and Pinnochio ARE spiritually significant, but not in a blatant or easily categorized way. As a child, I was spiritually influenced by The Muppets, as a matter of fact, for their community, Kermit's humility, their joy. Moreover, Jim Henson's devotion to his vision, to excellence, and to imagination was as much a guiding light in my childhood as any Christian imagination. But should The Muppet Movie be considered for this list? I don't know how to think about it. Artmaking is a spiritual endeavor. Art is a thing that engages us spiritually, or fails by not doing so.

But yes, you are right in that a story is not good enough for kids unless it is good enough for grownups. And thus, those films that are good enough for both are achievements to be reckoned with, and to be valued highly... among the great achievements of artmaking, alongside those that can only be properly appreciated and understood by adults.

You have to have a certain level of sophistication to appreciate T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. A child would be lost trying to read that. That doesn't mean Eliot's work is more precious to humanity in the long run than Winnie the Pooh.

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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I understand what you're saying, although your tongue-in-cheek comment about Tarkovsky/Bresson seemed to question their inclusion in particular.

Oh, heh, heck no. I just pulled the two most-recently-lauded names I could remember off the top of my head--and incorrectly, no less, cuz I gave Tarkovsky an extra T in his name. smile.gif

But I do think a Top 100 list for kids is a good idea and I'd be happy to participate in coming up with one.

Alannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?

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I remember what Christ said, asking me to become as a child...and I wonder if I'm eschewing more 'simple' fare in favor of that which stimulates my 'mature intellect', and if I've forgotten that sometimes the greatest of messages can be found in stories written for children.  And though I love (thrive on) allegory, sometimes it overshadows the simplicity of 'This symbolizes nothing but what it is.' Y'know?

Nice! I share Jason's disappointment, and not only because it's a film I'd let my kids watch. I find it deeply stirring and well-told. The "When You Believe" moment during the exodus (the Michelle Pfeiffer-Sally Dworkin version from the film, not the tarted up Whitney Houston-Mariah Carey version that runs over the credits) is one of the most simply spiritual moments on film, IMO. I'd love for us to make room for such simple spirituality alongside the artfulness and esotericism of, say, Ikiru or the "Three Colors" trilogy.

But I'm also a big fan of the democratic process, and if the larger body of voters deems it isn't so, I can live with that. (We'll just spend the next year trying to convince y'all are wrong, and get that sucker on the 2006 list. Calling Mayor Daley ....)

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Good post Jeffrey, and well read. And I agree inre: the delineation between significant and spiritually significant. To me, it seems and subjective and diverse as the oceans.

The stories that enthralled me as a child (before 10) were usually the same things everyone else read: Poe, Howard, Doyle--but 'children's books' had to have examples of moral compass: books such as A Wrinkle In Time, or the Great Brain series were huge favorites...but they're making Kangaroo Jack II and Robots instead. Woo!

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One other thing is that a list for kids would have to be quite subjective and wouldn't necessarily apply to all kids. My eight-year-old nephew burst into sobs when the troll demon (?) was killed in Fellowship of the Ring--because he had watched the extras on the DVD and heard Jackson say that he wanted his designers to come up with a creature that looked as if it had a mother waiting for it at home. He was inconsolable.

And any crucifixion imagery would almost certainly be too much for kids. My brother only screened the first 2/3 of The Miracle Maker for his kids for many years.

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And any crucifixion imagery would almost certainly be too much for kids. My brother only screened the first 2/3 of The Miracle Maker for his kids for many years.

Doug, don't take this as me being flippant about your remark--I take it very seriously.

But really, what do we do about this?

There is crucifixion imagery in many, if not most, church sanctuaries. Children are being exposed to the story of Christ all the time... our culture, especially Christian culture, is saturated with it. And while I don't think people should take small children to see TPotC, letting them encounter it in more moderated artistic forms seems to me to be a smart thing to do.

Heck, relative to your story about the troll, Doug, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as a story has the potential to truamatize children.

I'm curious to hear from other parents here especially... How much should we shield our kids from imagery about the world's harsh realities just because it's hard for them?

I encountered crucifixion imagery at a very young age, and while I don't remember much about my reaction to it, I learned how to deal with that subject reverently and with appropriate grief and horror.

Much of my fear of the outside world in childhood came from the way my Christian community around me bent over backwards to shield me from exposure to it. I've had a much harder time than many Christians I know adapting to relationships with the world beyond the fences of the church because I've had to overcome so many phobias cultivated by that very over-protectiveness.

Having said that, my family did protect me from serious, dangerous cultural influences as well, for which I am thankful.

It's a complicated issue. Perhaps it needs its own thread. Worth exploring.

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Maybe Mel would be open to doing another re-cut for kids...

Yeah, another thread might be good. I can see this thing going on for a while...

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Doug, don't take this as me being flippant about your remark--I take it very seriously.
Not at all, I agree, it is a complex subject that deserves serious consideration.

There is crucifixion imagery in many, if not most, church sanctuaries.
Sure, and most children are given other options than attending adult services, too. There is a huge difference in how we (and especially kids) process imagery in movies versus other forms of art, like painting, sculpture, the written word, etc. You're going to have a hard time convincing me that it's "smart" to expose, say, a kid under seven years old to photographic images and sounds of a man being nailed to wood; the nature of Christ and the theological implications are way above the heads of young children while the imagery is not. (Not that they can't be adopt the language early on.)

Children are being exposed to the story of Christ all the time...our culture, especially Christian culture, is saturated with it.
And that saturation is often oversaturation...how many people who grew up in the church take its images and ideas for granted and have tamed their implications? How many people yearn for "fresh perspectives" or talk about "rediscovering" stories they have ostensibly known all their lives? I think there's something to be said for introducing children to some aspects of the Christian narrative but leaving others for when they are older. Let the scriptures do their own work when it's appropriate.

Heck, relative to your story about the troll, Doug, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as a story has the potential to truamatize children.
Indeed, and I won't be taking any of them to it until I get a good sense of what is actually being presented versus what their individual sensitivities are. Edited by Doug C

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Yup. Clarity has seen Mimony Stinkett about 30 times now. Caleb isn't into the repetition as much--but he always asks to watch CSI.

I'm in soooooo much trouble down the road.

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And any crucifixion imagery would almost certainly be too much for kids.  My brother only screened the first 2/3 of The Miracle Maker for his kids for many years.

Um, wow. My kids have watched The Miracle Maker and The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ every Easter season for two or three years now, and the second half of The Gospel of John at least once.

Heck, relative to your story about the troll, Doug, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as a story has the potential to truamatize children.

Darn straight. The first two times I tried to read the book to Sarah, she made me stop before I got three chapters into it. Mr. Tumnus's mere description of what the White Witch would do to him if she found out he let a Daughter of Eve go hit her so hard, she could barely whisper the words that she didn't want to read any more.

Yet at the same time, she cheerfully watched a Discovery Channel documentary on dolphins every day for at least three months which included footage of and commentary on dolphins beating porpoises to death for the fun of it.

She was so sensitive, she'd get upset by a throwaway bit of animation in "Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious" where a plump woman is keeping time by banging a tambourine on her little husband's head... yet she never, ever had the slightest difficulty with the crucifixion, or with stories of the sufferings of the saints.

There is crucifixion imagery in many, if not most, church sanctuaries.
Sure, and most children are given other options than attending adult services, too.

Even if I supported the practice of bundling kids off to the church basement during worship, which I emphatically don't, I can't remotely imagine trying to keep kids out of the church sanctuary or nave or whatever it's called in one's church.

There is a huge difference in how we (and especially kids) process imagery in movies versus other forms of art, like painting, sculpture, the written word, etc.  You're going to have a hard time convincing me that it's "smart" to expose, say, a kid under seven years old to photographic images and sounds of a man being nailed to wood

Well, that's a defensible position, although FWIW The Miracle Maker is very mild on this point. I'm not saying there aren't kids who are too sensitive for it in the way that Sarah was once too sensitive for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I think that has more to do with the particular kid than the appropriateness of the narrative for children generally.

the nature of Christ and the theological implications are way above the heads of young children

Eh. It's over all our heads. We do process it at different levels, but I don't think children are ever too young to be taught Christ crucified on one level or another.

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Iron Giant = Pure Awesome.

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Doug C wrote:

: Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: : There is crucifixion imagery in many, if not most, church sanctuaries.

:

: Sure, and most children are given other options than attending adult services, too.

I just have to say that this seems like an incorrect statement to me -- "most"? -- and the attitude it reflects even seems a bit dangerous to me. In Orthodox churches (at least the ones I know), there is not only no such thing as a children's service, the children themselves actually eat the body of Christ and drink his blood every Sunday, just as the adults do. And of course we venerate at least one cross every Sunday, too. (And we make the sign of the cross frequently, etc., etc., etc.)

Granted it is probably inappropriate to expose young children to hyperviolent movies about the crucifixion like The Passion of the Christ, I can't see why we would want to hide our children from accounts of the crucifixion in general, or from films that deal with the terrifying and violent nature of the world; my childhood would have been impoverished without The Empire Strikes Back, Watership Down, The Ten Commandments, and any number of similar films. (Yes, I even had nightmares as a result of the 1970s animated version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But I don't think it's a bad thing to find the White Witch scary.)

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I have to say I agree with you there Peter. I was recently asked not to show any more film images during worship that (happened to) include (brief) shots of animals killing other animals. They obvioualy aren't ideal in that context anyway, but it made me wonder about how much we shield our kids from the realities of life.

: How much should we shield our kids from imagery about the world's harsh realities just because it's hard for them?

The question for me is more just "should we?"

Think back to kids 200 years ago most of them knew death to be part of life and were much more familiar with it in their everyday lives. It seems to me at some point you have to find out about death, and it's never going to be easy.

But then I've not got kids.

Matt

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How much should we shield our kids from imagery about the world's harsh realities just because it's hard for them?

Adding to that, I wonder if churches often completely lose sight of reality in their desire to keep the 'sanctuary sanctified.'

After the first service, I was asked to warn the 2nd service congregation when screening the 'Scratching the Surface' documentary because one of the team members used the words 'vaginal' and 'semen' when describing the transmission of HIV. It wasn't an illustration of sex, either--it was a simple statement on blood to blood/vaginal fluids/semen contact transmitting the virus.

'We'd jusy like members to have the option of having their kids leave the room if they're uncomfortable,' a gentleman said.

It was quite clear who the 'uncomfortable' party was.

I used great restraint not only in granting the request, but keeping myself from stating my opinion of it, and the other words he could have used.

Edited by Jason Bortz

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Well, THAT's nothing! Why, in a congregation in Alabama, when Henry Miller got up to read a selection from "Sexus", a few people actually gasped when he disrobed!

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Wait--what happened to the discussion of the top 100 movies for kids? tongue.gif

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Alannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?

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Bah! Just for that, I'm not going to finish this wo

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Just came across this C.S. Lewis quote and thought it should be included here:

(I've broken it up for easier reading.)

Those who say that children must not be frightened may mean two things.

They may mean

(1) that we must not do anything likely to give the child those haunting, disabling, pathological fears against which ordinary courage is helpless: in fact, phobias. His mind must, if possible, be kept clear of things he can

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

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