A Question from My Daughter

So my 3 year old asked me what the “no smoking” sign in our hotel room meant.

I said,  “Some grown ups have a bad habit of smoking cigarettes – they’re little paper sticks filled with tobacco. You light one end on fire and put the other in your mouth. It’s about as healthy as it sounds.”

That satisfied (or baffled) her, and she moved onto the next question. A 3 year old has no shortage of questions. 

I took a picture of the sign. She is responsible for turning it and the water bottle upside down.

And for turning our lives upside down, but in the best possible way.

Audio-Visual Comfort Food

There is something comforting about going back to the old familiar.
Walking among the trees you climbed as a child
Holding a favorite childhood stuffed animal
Smelling a blanket or quilt your grandmother made
Tasting a favorite food from long ago

And so it is no wonder that so much of what we watch is old
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Sherlock, Elementary
Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, and Superheroes by the score
Jane Austin remade, remixed, even reimagined with zombies
Ponies and Transformers and Jedi, oh my!

This is an appalling display of unoriginality
This is also what we want. It’s what I want.
I don’t want the stories I grew up with to lie in their graves
Even if some of them were so bad that’s all they deserve
Even if their remakes are nothing short of abysmal.
Would I rather have Zach Snyder’s Randian pukestorm,
Or have Superman be forgotten?
If those are my choices, I’d rather see the red S fly.
Even if I don’t bother seeing the movie
Of course, I’d rather the remake be good.

Jane Austen fans usually get their wish on that front
Not just quality film adaptations
But expansions and reimaginings
Austenland, Lost in Austen, Death Comes to Pemberly
Even Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
But their day is coming, too
Just wait til they unleash Michael Bay on the Austenverse
Then they’ll know how the rest of us feel:
Persuasion will be the name of the gun
Emma uses to blow up Mansfield Park
Okay, maybe Dannie’s right.
Maybe these are “horrific money-grabs”
A lot of them are definitely “weaksauce storytelling”
And maybe I’ll never see good versions of my childhood favorites
On the big screen.
But we 80’s kids can hope, can’t we?

 

Twelve-Word Tuesday: Voltron: Legendary Defender

Well crafted. Light-hearted. Hints of gender nonconformity. But still embraces redemptive violence.

I was an 80’s kid who always (skeptically) looks forward to modern updates and remakes of old childhood favorites … especially since the old cartoons often don’t hold up well (try watching old episodes of Transformers, GI Joe, or Thundercats without cringing).

A lot of the updates are quite good. But virtually all of them play into the myth of redemptive violence, with the exception of updates of “girl toy cartoons” (I hate myself for typing that sentence, but that’s how it was seen in the 1980’s) like the adorable My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which I love to watch with my daughter.

Voltron: Legendary Defender is especially well done. The animation, music, voice work, characterization, and even dialogue are top-notch, and appropriate for children (though not for a 3-year old). The plot is serialized, and each episode leaves the viewer in suspense for the next. I have been thoroughly enjoying watching it myself.

The heroes’ success turns on teamwork and on realizing the importance of putting aside their own personal needs in order to protect society at large, which are good things.

Of course, protecting society at large mostly involves blowing up massive numbers of enemy ships, robots, and mecha. It’s the myth of redemptive violence all the way down.

I know it takes a little more thought to come up with non-violent plots, especially in a show with a violent predecessor, but the excellent Transformers Rescue Bots (and the aforementioned My Little Pony) proves it is possible to design action-packed kids cartoons, and even to draw off Gen-X nostalgia, without glorifying violence.

I just wish more people would do it.

(Voltron: Legendary Defender Season 1 is available on Netflix now).