Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Who Knew BABE Was Confusing

Variety did a story on the Chinese government and animation today. As part of the story, they reminded us of this tidbit from the recent past:

"Chinese regulatory authorities are notoriously skittish regarding broadcast and film themes that include the supernatural or fantasy, including talking animals. "Babe" was banned on the basis that animals can't talk and some viewers would be confused."

They are afraid that people will see BABE and start expecting animals to talk -- if it is in the movies, it must be true.

Laughable. Then I think about all the American debates about fantasy, symbolism and metaphor in our films, especially some of the brou-ha-ha over the Potter and Lewis movies. We don't trust our audiences to know that Harry's wizardry is fantasy, or that Aslan is a metaphor for something bigger than a lion.

And we probably don't trust them for a reason; as a nation, we seem to be excercising our creative imaginations less and less. Our children are not expected to take a card board box to the moon, or use a sheet and a stack of pillows to create a fort capable of warding off the Viking horde. We don't read to them, knowing they will build sets and costumes in their mind; we don't chase them around the yard, racing invisible chariots around a crowded Roman arena.

Instead we set them in front of videos that give them the costumes and backgrounds, and computer games that show them the actual moon, and video games that provide the chariots and Viking horde.

Hey, I'm not against video or computers. I just want to make sure that we feed imaginations, and don't just replace them.

My nieces and nephew watch videos, and play computer games. But when you visit them, they can tell you that the sun room is where the wicked witch lives; and that travelling across the plush carpet can make you sleepy, since it is a poppy field; and that the wizard pops up from behind the couch, so you have to stand in front of it just so to address him.

Of course, if you just looked around with the right eyes, you would see it for yourself, and not have to humble yourself to ask the children.

Just my thoughts,


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