Notes From Da-da's Underground

Da-da has lots of opinions about what's wrong with the world, but he won't bore you with them. Instead, he'll point out a kid observation. Da-da has seen his 4 and 6YO boys, Bronko and Nagurski (not their real names, o'course) after countless films of all different variety, and has experienced what their mindset was after each. Much of the animation and features from the Western world (esp. the U.S.) foster fear and TENSION in every story; indeed, if the storyline doesn't DRIP with tension, a lot of folks will immediately say a piece doesn't "hold their attention," 99% of which is apparently geared toward them dying in the next few milleseconds; fear and death, hand in hand. After the boys have seen any of the Star Wars/Clone Wars saga, or "Ben 10," they typically try to kill one another (hence Da-da severely limiting this type of violent programming); at best it makes them cynical and blasé. And Da-da won't mention (though he's going to) the heinous and reprehensible R-rated commercials for horror movies and video games of death that broadcasters keep running during sporting events like football and baseball -- at 10:00 am on a Sunday -- repeatedly blasting children's sensoriums with nightmare images (e.g., the latest iteration of, "THE THING" comes to mind). The media machine wants you afraid, because then your mind shuts down, and they clearly don't want you thinking clearly. (One anonymous wag tried to comment, "Grow up" to Da-da's last call for decency. Da-da pointed out that a mirror may be in order.)

Anyway, after Da-da recently added and showed his boys most of Hayao Miyazaki's amazing works of animation, such as, "My Neighbor Totoro," "Ponyo" and "Spirited Away," to name a few, the result was a pleasant surprise. After seeing one of these features, Da-da's boys came away... happy. They were cooperative. They were nice to one another. They were filled with wonder. They went to bed without a fuss. They asked questions about things, and made salient points. THEY SAW THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY. This is primarily because Miyazaki's worlds expose them not only to the more reasonable pace of a different culture and time, but also tunes them in to and acknowledges what's around us all the time, a thing the Western world shuns (unless it's got fear attached). Da-da's talking about magic. The world is very strange and surreal, and odd and wondrous things happen all the time if you just keep your eyes and ears and mind open. Many of these things don't have a scientific explanation, nor can science answer any serious ontological question past a certain point (which bugs the hell out of most scientists). You have to leap then, and enter the unknown with a healthy sense of fearlessness and wonder. It's good for kids to be reminded that somewhere, someone or something benevolent (whatever you care to call it) is tending the light at the end of the tunnel, and that there's nothing really to worry about or fear. Yup, Da-da just pegged the WARM AND FUZZY meter. Oh, well. It's gonna happen now and again, so Da-da's gonna go with it. Gotta go, the CAT BUS is inbound.

[And NO, Da-da has not let the boys see, "Princess Mononoke." It's amazing, but waaay too violent for little kids. Same goes for, "Steamboy."]

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