Friday, 31 July 2009

Hilariously Unintentional Moral Dilemmas in Childrens Films

I’ve been told I over analyse films, but sometimes it has to be done otherwise people just accept blatantly ridiculous things. Just because these films are aimed at the unquestioning masses, to be pumped via television screens into the pure, unblemished minds of children, there is a belief that as long as the film contains some kind of moral to it, no matter how garbled and utterly ridiculous the message is, then it doesn't matter. It is a wonder that as adults we stumble along and manage to make do with our minds which have been warped into unthinking machines by the horribly ill thought out choices made by our childhood heroes.

Mary Poppins

We shall start with Mary Poppins, a beloved, exploration into the luridly coloured, cockney populated, clean streets of what Disney interpreted to be Edwardian London. There are many questions which I subconciously ask myself whilst watching this film, but more often than not the first one which springs to mind is: What the hell? First of all, what is Mary Poppins? She flew in on an umbrella, can make objects fly around the room, make chalk drawings come alive, and no one questions this? Oh, she’s just Mary Poppins, she can do that. No, well I’m sorry that’s not good enough, I want answers. Furthermore, the boat house across the road that blasts off a canon which makes the whole house shake every hour to the extent that everyone occupying the house has to run around like madmen to make sure the furniture doesn’t fall over. Why do the characters accept this as well? The first few times that happened I would be banging down the door of that boat house and say ‘excuse me, it seems your boat house is emitting loud noises which make my house shake violently, it’s very disruptive, would you mind awfully if you could stop firing a canon every hour in the middle of a residential area?’ Then if it kept going, I would have a for sale sign outside my house and I would frickin' move. These people are morons, I just can’t fathom why would you put up with this?

So what did this teach us as children?
When a peculiar stranger arrives at your house with mysterious, unexplained powers and promising to make all your dreams come true, you must invite her in without hesitation and entrust her to look after your children. She is probably not a con-artist/she-demon. Also, when dealing with neighbours, tolerance is a virtue; no matter how much they make your life a living hell with their boat horn.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Then of course there is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the brilliant childrens book by the late Roald Dahl. Yes, Dahl wasn't exactly known as a shining paragon of morality, his books more often than not dealt with fantastic worlds and nonsensical beasts. Yet, brilliant as the movie version is, I can't help but notice the glaring injustice towards poor Charlies mother and the outright laziness of Charlies grandad. What a lazy bastard. He lay in bed for the best part of ten years, watching Charlie’s mother toil all day long, and then at the prospect of being shown round a chocolate factory he just springs right out of bed. “What’s that Charlie? You’re going to a chocolate factory? Jesus Christ, you mean something good actually happened to this crappy family? Well, you know I can actually walk I just chose not to. But for all the chocolate I can eat. Well Jesus, I’ll even do a song and dance montage for you.” And no one questions this. Now, if I was Charlie’s mum I’d be thinking ‘What the hell? You lazy sod, you’ve been lying in bed for ten years. I’ve been working my arse off and singing terrible, miserable songs when all along you could walk??? Maybe I wanted to go to that chocolate factory. Maybe I wanted a day off from toiling away in that laundry. But no, you can walk now? Oh well that’s just fantastic? Can any of the rest of you walk as well?”

So, what did this teach us as children?
Now this is one I really took to heart, that it is ok to be shockingly lazy and watch everyone else do the work whilst you lie in bed, because one day you will be rewarded by getting the chance to visit a chocolate factory. Whereas, if you are stupid enough to toil away all day, then guess what? You'll still be sweating and toiling whilst everyone else gets to visit a goddamn chocolate factory.

Beauty and the Beast

Then there’s beauty and the beast. Ok, I understand the beast was a bastard, he left that old lady out in the cold and his very being was cursed yada yada. But surely this witch was even worse, she turned all his servants into furniture, now what did they have to do with it? Talk about going too far. Seriously, if I was working at that castle I’d be onto the accursed domestic servant union right away. I wouldn’t take that crap. But the servants are all just like ‘ahh well, looks like I’m going to be furniture for the next hundred years or so. FML.’ If my boss, did something which resulted in me having to possibly spend eternity as a tea cup, I would not be happy. I would not be serving him food, I would not be tending to his every need. If anything I would go out of my way to make life as uncomfortable as possible for him, ‘so, what are you going to do? Smash me? I don’t care, in fact I want you to smash me. I would love you to smash me, it’s better than spending the rest of eternity as a frickin tea cup. Do you know the last time I had sex? No, neither do I. Seeing as I no longer have any genitalia instead I just get molested by a horny candle stick. Thanks a lot.” Then there’s the opening scene with Belle wandering through town reading a book, and everyone singing about how peculiar she is, for reading a book. Right. So they feel the need to collectively compose a song about how strange she is, because she reads books. Well all I can say is that I grew up in Milton Keynes and I know exactly how that one feels.

What this taught us as children:

Don't read books in public or the whole town will burst into elaborate musical numbers about how 'peculiar' you are. Oh, and also don't work for a shit boss or you'll spend the rest of eternity as his furniture...hmm, maybe that is the only good message in all of this.

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