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Warning- These Movies Are out to Kill Your Childhood Memories

June 3, 2010

So, the happy, giddy glow of going to an excellent book signing just got the spiritual equivalent of a cold shower.

From a post on I have learned that… Beezus and Ramona is going to be a movie. With Selena Gomez, airbrushed Disney princess, as Beezus.
Wait— WHAT? Look at that poster. It’s so cute- and perfect and perky and plastic and… Did they read the books? Is Beverly Cleary still alive? If she’s not- her ghost should haunt the producers of this nonsense. Which is going to have a pop music montage, I’m sure, or two, and be set in sunny California, rather than properly in Oregon. Klickitat Street, meet Rodeo Drive!
I feel nauseated.

From the original post, by mary.

This shiny, allergy-fighting pharmaceutical commercial-esque sunniness and Gomez’ airbrushed face seem to have no relation to the original characters.

Taking the protagonist and giving her shiny hair and these ease of a one-dimensional popular girl is a common theme in movie-making, and somehow I can’t imagine film executives pouring over BartheDeClements oeuvre and saying, “Do you think we made this twelve-year-old girl character realistic? Do you think we picked up on the dryness if the original text?” Instead we get the Hannah Montana phenomenon, where everything for kids is glossed up and filled with ridiculous distractions, all made with the assumption that children cannot pay attention to anything for more than 20 seconds. They are probably thinking, “Little girls like glitter, hair extensions, pink, and commercial tie-ins!’ We can take men and sometimes women seriously, but the media is clearly uninterested in how children might really think, act, and feel, even though we were all children once and of course can trace the route of our grown-up insanity from childhood.

Weirdly, that reminds me of going to the Metropolitan Museum, and seeing family portrait paintings from the 18th century. Children were painted dressed like miniature adults, and treated as such. “Childhood” emerged later, a Victorian notion, for toys and playthings, and a separate child life in the nursery. Children are resilient and can handle what society, and their parents, tell them to handle. Catering to a diminished attention span isn’t a service the movie and media industry does— it’s gross pandering. Training wheels for the mind. Children are smarter and can handle more depth to their movies than this cheerful Disneyfication gives them credit for.

Portrait of 17th Century Child

child as miniature adult

And if these sappy, sanitized movies keep glossing over awkward moments or hard stuff or shades of gray— who’s going to teach kids to handle those emotions in ordinary life, give them context? There are a lot of rude surprises coming for the Disney channel generation.
At the end of the post about Ramona and Beezus… is a link that horrified and incensed me. Harriet the Spy, courtesy of Disney… If you loved Harriet the Spy as a kid

Click if you dare. Spoiler: Harriet the Spy and blog wars!!?!!!

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