Unfortunately, Iím not a kid myself. My daughterís renewed interest at each viewing exceeds mine by an incalculable number of showings. After about two dozen times, I find myself whistling those annoying little movie tunes while on my morning stroll to the soda machine. After thirty-eight times, I start dropping lines of dialogue here and there as if I thought them up myself. Then, after about seventy-three viewings, I snap.
Questions rush into my head. Concepts that will not be denied force me to look beyond the brilliant colors and images. What are the real messages here? Itís all stuffy, paranoid, contemplative adult thinking, but it exists nonetheless. I watch the films. I really watch and I wonder.
At first viewing, we felt sorry for Cinderella because of her bad family situation. We applauded when she finally got her prince and the ďhappily ever after rideĒ into the sunset. Then I thought why? For all her troubles, Cinderella didnít learn much during the film. It's a scenario taken straight from one of todayís talk shows, we see a young woman who lacks the confidence to stand up for herself and in the end, marries the first guy she meets.
In a certain film version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel draws upon our sympathies because the poor mermaid wants to be human. Eventually, she mopes and pouts herself into the hands of the Sea Witch who grants her wish. Of course there is a catch and Ariel loses the bet, but in the end she mopes and pouts herself into getting what she wants. She didnít appear to learn much either.
As for Snow White, I found her endless spirit while enduring a very unpleasant domestic life encouraging. Yet as a parent, our princess broke many long standing, commonsense rules. The most important being -- donít take food from strangers. Is that any kind of role model?
Horrors! In my efforts to channel what my child watches on television, I may have been filling her head with all the wrong things. Now, I need balance. I need something that says fantasy is fine, but meek, spoiled and clueless is not going to cut it in todayís world.
Iím not saying Cinderella should run out to get tattoos and multiple body piercings to spite her stepmother. I donít really want to see Ariel and her prince work through their difficulties in a series of confrontational therapy sessions. It makes little sense to have Snow White arrested for breaking and entering.
Still, my daughter keeps watching. She wants to dress up in fancy gowns. She pretends her brother is Prince Charming. I keep looking for new and different movies, but the cycle is always the same. Then it hits me.
Instead of a movie, we sit down and have a long talk. I share all my concerns and fears. My dreams for her future come out in a gush. She can be strong and independent. The future holds nothing but good things for her. Take the time necessary to make certain Mr. Right is Mr. Right.
Itís exhausting. When Iím finished, I search her face for some glimmer of understanding. Then, two small hands plant themselves on either side of my face. My daughter looks straight into my eyes.
Daddy, itís only a movie.
Who Wants A Fairy Tale?
- by Jeff Meyers
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff Meyers is a talented writer and a talented illustrator. Jeff makes his home in Ohio. He enjoys writing fiction for all ages and has been drawing and painting all his life. His artwork includes cartoons, illustrations, computer graphics, and still life drawings. When he's not working at his computer, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. Jeff has wonderful examples of both his artistic as well as his writing talent on display throughout Bedtime-Story. Check the Author/Illustrator directory for a complete listing of Jeff Meyers work. Contact Jeff at Jeff@thejeffworks.com or visit his new website: The JEFFWORKS for Creative solutions to your communication needs.