Tag Archives: growing up

Growing Up, in the Words of…

As a very old bit of wisdom says, “Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional.” And whether you believe it was said by Carroll Bryant, Chili Davis, Bob Monkhouse, your therapist, your mother, or someone totally different, it doesn’t matter. It’s not true.

I mean it is true. No one necessarily has to grow up. Unfortunately, most of us are forced into the act.

When you’re young, people praise you for being creative and asking questions and playing pretend and imagining great things. They tell you that you can be anything in the world, anything at all, when you get older. They praise your curiosity.

Then somewhere along the way they tell you to sit down and be quiet. The world spoon feeds you and tells you to grow up. Don’t do that. You’re too old for that. Stop finger painting and reading children’s books and watching fantasy and sci-fi shows and watching clouds and playing pretend and dancing in the rain and chatting up strangers while waiting in line and being so nice to people and being silly and enjoying bumper cars and laughing when someone farts and dreaming of being the president and JUST STOP trying to be something you’re not.

Well who decided what I’m not?

I certainly didn’t decide I wanted to stop helping the kids at church with their arts and crafts and learning fun songs about the endless and bountiful love of an all-powerful, accepting God. The assistant pastor told me I had to go play with the teenagers who teased me for things I couldn’t change and who never played anything I was good at or ever wanted to learn about anything religious. So I grew up, and I stopped loving religion. I stopped loving church because I was told I was too old to have fun there. I was too old to enjoy it.

I didn’t decide the playground was too childish for me or that laughing out loud was inappropriate. The parents who stare at me like I’m about to abduct their children even when I’m just on the swing set making myself dizzy decided that. The guy at 2 am at IHop who complained that me and some friends joking around was disturbing his meal decided that. I didn’t stop enjoying those things. I became ashamed of those things because of society.

I used to revel in my originality and my interests, and now I hide myself from even my extended family because the world has decided I must grow up, I must. I must grow up or I’ll fall behind. I must get a job at a desk or working for minimum wage. I must get a Doctorate. I must get married and have 2.5 kids and a dog.

But I want to wind down after working with a fantasy novel and play video games until I pass out and put bright highlights in my hair and go to work with it and get too emotional over television shows about people who don’t exist and sleep with a giant stuffed tiger and dream about traveling the world and having the job I always wanted to have and get my face painted at a carnival and play on the jungle gym and sing to myself in public and skip when I want to and break out into dance and have fun my way, not society’s way.

And who decided that I couldn’t? Because there’s something wrong in society when we force our citizens to give up on their dreams and to put aside originality to fit in and succeed and yet claim we want “creative individuals” in our job postings.

Growing old is mandatory, and in this world growing up is a rule. And if you break it, you’re either a success story told to inspire others to keep treading the mill or you’re a failure and society uses you to wipe their shoes after work.

Break the mold for a second with me and use your imagination.

What kind of world would we have if we let people keep dreaming as they got older? What kind of innovations would we have if we just let people grow whichever way they wanted to?

Stop telling people to grow up. The greatest horror this world imposes on us is the idea that we must grow up or be deemed a failure.

Ciao tutti,

RM

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Kids Movies Shouldn’t Be Just for Kids

The idea in popular thinking that children’s movies have to be light and fluffy and safe and not have too many crude jokes in them the only adults will get is really kind of bs.

I mean, I think people are forgetting how tragic some of the best children’s movies are.

I mean just with Disney:

Beauty and the Beast is about a man cursed to be a beast and a woman he basically kidnaps, and it has near continuous mentions of death.

Cinderella opens with the story of a young girl losing her father. She is then abused by her family, no matter how well she takes it.

In The Lion King, Scar literally throws his brother off a cliff. He is trampled to death and young Simba witnesses the tragedy and is then convinced he is a murderer and exiled from his own kingdom. The entire pride lands turns into a nightmare, complete with never sunny skies and near cannibalistic monsters.

The Little Mermaid has Ursula basically telling Ariel to use sex appeal to win a guy, and she kinda does. Ursula also has a host of shriveled people trapped in her home.

Lady and the Tramp has a terrifying, evil rat trying to kill/steal/eat a baby and several dark scenes – including Lady in the pound.

Have you watched The Rescuers lately? Or it’s sequel? Kidnapping. Attempted murder. Thievery. Traumatic hospital experiences. Bad guys being eaten by wild animals. I mean, seriously.

Treasure Planet is about a broken family. The main character has a history of arrests. Over half the cast is evil. That movie is a bucket of angst.

Lilo and Stitch is another broken family. I mean I could dedicate this whole post to the not-happy and sunshine things in Lilo and Stitch.

Same goes for Oliver and Company – a kitten no one wanted is left to drown in a cardboard box until it breaks and he’s left on the streets. He’s then subjected to a number of scary experiences. There’s a child being kidnapped and held for ransom. Those evil dogs are scary as hell. The bad guy is terrifying. Even one of the heroes could be scary to a little kid – he’s a dirty looking hobo selling fake watches.

Outside of Disney you have movies like The Land Before Time, where Littlefoot watches his mother die and must then travel across the world to find the rest of his family. He meets other kids but even then he’s battered over and over with self-doubt, loneliness, and depression.

An American Tale is a cute movie but when you get older you see it’s a anecdote about immigration and children’s work houses and orphanages and living on the streets of 1870’s America.

Balto is about an outcast half-wolf dog that no one wants to associate with. Other dogs and all humans avoid him. Even when he starts to have good experiences, the other dogs ruin it for him. He nearly dies a few times. The plot of the movie is that a sickness is killing children.

A Little Princess sounds like a cute movie, but I always hated it because it scared me and made me cry. A girl is orphaned while at boarding school, then she’s turned into a servant. Every time she starts to enjoy herself, the headmistress ruins it and threatens her. Her best friend is the victim of racism. Her father was in a war and got amnesia and almost doesn’t recognize his own daughter in the end.

The creator of Rise of the Guardians made a statement when asked about how dark his movie was. He said he wanted to prove kids movies could be dark. Good on him, because a kid’s movie without darkness is a movie without true conflict and thus boring to anyone above the third grade. Anyone younger just likes it because it moves.

I could go on and on.

So all the articles I see lately about how children’s movies are too dark and they need to be fun and friendly and whatever… I mean, stop it. Your kids need more than candy.

Kid’s movies shouldn’t just be for kids. They should be movies you can watch again and again and get something new each time because you’re learning about the world and realizing that was in your favorite movie the whole time.

Ciao tutti,

RM