The Revelation of Some Guy or; What do you Call a Thousand Shrinks at the Bottom of the Sea?

Posted: February 20, 2009 in Culture

Not really a rant but…(Ok, it turns into one down near the bottom.)

I took a toddler to a horror movie. The one in the yellow rain jacket up top.

Yes, yes, I’m a bad bad man. Cool your jets, it wasn’t Friday the 13th part 2938479.

I took my two year old daughter to see Neil Gaiman’s new flick, Coraline. You know, the one that kind of looks like A Nightmare before Christmas, but way cooler, and without the monsters bursting into Oscar winning song?

Yes, I was aware that it had a content warning specifically stating that the film wasn’t for small children. Yes, I knew it had “frightening scenes.” But fuck it, I’m a Gaiman fan from way back, a selfish bastard and I figured, hey, you know what; worst case scenario I have to pay a few extra therapy bills down the road; it’s not like she won’t need them anyway with a know-it-all prick like me for a dad.

Mostly though, I did it because the kid went apeshit when she saw the trailer a month or so back and, after testing the waters a bit by putting on the aforementioned stop-motion classic from the House of Mouse, it was clear that she wasn’t going to have a negative reaction to animation of a more icky sort. (I’ve now learned that there are very few things as disturbing as a child of two, pigtails and dimples everywhere, pointing gleefully at Jack the Pumpkin King and screaming “Pretty!”)

So we took her to the movie. I was pissed at myself in advance because I knew, from past experience, that we’d only get to watch about half of it and then she’d either get too hyper and start running up and down the aisles, or she’d get scared; either way we’d have to leave early and I would miss out. 😦

But wait. What was this?

From the opening credits to the closing credits she sat, jaw agape, soother dangling down past her chin whilst suspended by a string of steel polymer drool, and nary made a sound t’wasn’t laughter.

On the drive home, Melissa (my girlfriend and Makayla’s mother) kept saying she was convinced Makayla wouldn’t sleep at all, that it was a terrible mistake and nightmares would quickly ensue. You know what happened? After buckling her into her car seat it took about 3 minutes of driving before Makayla pumped one fist into the air, shook with rage, screamed “No!”, and then passed out with her head in her armpit faster than if someone had dropped an anvil on her. (I shit you not, the whole fist in the air, do not go gentle into that good night routine, is a nightly occurrence; the battle between this child and sleep is freakin’ epic!) She woke up 10 hours later, all smiles, demanding to be taken to another movie.

2 points for Dad.

Here’s the thing though, over the last couple of days I’ve told a few people that we took her to see Coraline and all of them have the same reactions;

“Oh my god, how could you? She’s too young!”

“You’ve probably scarred her for life!”

“I’m calling Children’s Aid!”

“You’re a monster and you molested her mind! Molestererer!!”

What. The. Fuck.

And then I realized who to blame. I blame you, Pop Psychology! (I now slap pop psychology in the face with my multicolored glove of many hallucinations.)

For years those in the “I know you better than you,” business have been telling us how bad violence is for our kids. Whether it be the kind found in cartoons from the 70s or video games whose system names sound like whoopee cushions being deflated, we’ve been lectured to death on how evil and corrupting and desensitizing violent imagery can be to the minds of small children. Hell, without the Thundercats, there probably would have been no Columbine massacre.

I call bullshit. You know why Makayla wasn’t scared and why I’ll probably never have to face her tearful accusations of mental damage in a shrink’s office down the road? Because she had no reason to be scared. We haven’t told her what’s scary yet. No context, no mental anguish.

Listen, if you spend the first 5 years of your kid’s life constantly telling her about all the evils in the world, all the bad things that are going to get her, in short, everything that you’ve spent a lifetime developing into your own psychoses, of course she’s going to be a quivering neurotic mess. No, I’m not saying you should shelter her; that just creates a generation of angsty douchebags who blame their parents for not preparing them for the world; but do you really have to make such a big freaking deal about it all? If your kid smiles at something inappropriate in a t.v. show or book, or game, do you really need to rush immediately to the nearest pharmacy and take out a prescription for Junior Lithium?

If your kid is twisting the heads off of live puppies, fine you’ve got a fucking problem. But giving too much negative context to stuff they’re probably going to find entertaining later in life anyway is just dumb; you’re creating fears, you’re creating nightmares, you’re creating the psychologically deviant monsters of tomorrow.

I’m calling Children’s Aid.



  1. you scroll down the menu to OpenId and punch in your blog address.And just so you know, this isn’t the one about the old people, this is a new one. 😀

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