January 5, 2012

Offensive Independence

Filed under: Christmas Time!,Idiot Box,Think About It!,Youth Rights — Katrina @ 1:48 pm

You know what’s amusing? Adults who feel personally offended by the mere idea of independent children.

I recently reread Alex’s piece from 2007 about that old show Kid Nation (which I wrote about a few months later), and how, before the show ever aired, adults got all up in arms about “oh noes, this show is abusive toward those kids and forcing them to take care of themselves, exploitation!” Something they seem to only ever say when the kids shown are competent and independent, and something they are quiet about when the kids are being abused and actually exploited.

Movie called “Dolphin Tale” came out this past year. I haven’t seen it, but I just gathered it’s based on a true story. My supervisor told me she was going to see it in theaters, and mentioned that, even though it’s based on a true story, she doubts the 12-year-old boy depicted in the film really played at any part in it.

Why would she say this? Well, her son is 12. Maybe she believes him to be incapable of anything great and certainly unable to make independent decisions. Maybe she likes it that way.

Similarly, I’ve actually seen complaints about, of all things, Dora the Explorer! Oh noes! How dare the show depict a 5-year-old girl wandering around… without adult supervision?!

And, of course, let’s not forget… Home Alone. Eight-year-old Kevin is accidentally left home when his family leaves the country, and during this time he must protect his house from burglars. Then later in the sequel he’s in New York City by himself and again managing himself just fine, and ends up rescuing a toy store and a children’s charity from the same burglars. Even though these two movies (I don’t consider any later “Home Alone” movies to exist, it’s not Home Alone without Macaulay Culkin!) are beloved classics now, sure enough, you’ll find no shortage of people who feel personally offended that these films depict a prepubescent child successfully taking care of himself and fending off two burglars without adults around to oversee and take care of him, save for the old man with the shovel and the bird lady who come to the rescue when the burglars do have him cornered. Even where movies with adult heroes are significantly less realistic, Home Alone will get picked apart, because how dare John Hughes suggest a heroic independent child?!

And there’s the people who are even offended that Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson are smarter than their parents.

The list goes on. And it’s not even just fictional characters, as even real youth who show courage and independence or great skill are often derided, and assumed to be neglected or abused.

But if these people are so disturbed by this? Good! Let’s keep disturbing them! 😀

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