It has been pointed out (by Cracked with After Hours) that movies, and children’s movies in particular, tend to have the moral lesson that a lie is better than the truth. It is better to remain a child forever than to have adult responsibilities. It is better to live with your head in a dreamworld than to grow and wake up.
This moral lies in movies like The Never Ending Story, Peter Pan, Patch Adams, Jumanji, Mrs Doubtfire, Gremlins, Toy Story, and Life of Pie, among others. For instance, children growing up and moving on from toys, or stopping from treating them as living things, is evil in the Toy Story universe. The whole idea of Andy growing up in the third one leads to an apocalypse.
The unspoken question raised by this revelation is, should people leave behind their childhoods for adult responsibility? Sort of like The Matrix, but backwards. Wake up from explosions and fight scenes to live in a world of having a job and being mature.
It’s a little obvious why the movie industry, and the people who have chosen to make movies for a living, would have a bias in this argument. If your job is to imagine stuff and pretty much be a child, why would you change it? Look at John Lasseter or Matt Groening. They are happy with what they do. They are being paid to remain children.
Then again, not. While they are keeping a childlike wonder and sense of fun about the world. Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” This is exactly what these creative people are doing. They are growing up, and still keeping being an artist.
However, it seems like a dangerous argument to be putting across. The only way to achieve happiness is to not grow up. To become successful as a creative person.
Which is fine for those who want to be creative people, who want to grow up and make movies, or be whatever sort of artist. Maybe they will grow up to not grow up and constantly live in the dreamworld that is the real world of The Matrix. But what about those who enjoy movies just for the sake of movies, and don’t have dreams to be anything. (Or at least anything creative.) Just to live life and spend time with people.
There is the argument that those who create art have no responsibility to send a responsible or all encompassing message. Instead they should simply be honest about how they feel. That is what good art is, after all, someone creating a powerful work that inspires feelings in others. It makes people feel connected to something. It allows people to travel away from their life to live elsewhere for a while. To escape.
None of that requires the artist or art to be responsible or mature. Not that they can’t be, but if the goal is to make an impassioned work that is full of spirit, they don’t have to be.
Indeed, as Neil Gaiman argues, escapism is a healthy thing for those who need to escape from some awful place or prison. He says that through books (art as well) you can gain knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armor: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.
But if those skills and knowledge and tools only give you one option then is that not limiting, no matter what the option? On the other hand, that is a ridiculous claim, there are so many movies and books and works of art out there that there will always be more than one option.
On the other, other hand, is that a valid solution to the meaning of life or happiness? Being a child, or at least seeing the world from childlike eyes. The fact that so many people do it means that it is a fanatically sound solution, provided you can make it work.
But surely there is some merit to finishing a book or movie and then facing ‘reality’. To put aside childhood things and grow up. To be responsible and mature. To be a grown up, an adult. Is it not a good thing to outgrow things sometimes?
Possibly. But not for us at Phrasely Weirded. We will make sure to never grow up.
Once upon a time there was an alcoholic father. Now, this was a long time ago, so you don’t need to be calling child services, but he used to hurt the kid. Sometimes he was good, but sometimes he wasn’t. I don’t know what his issues were, but I do hope his story turned out alright.
However, this isn’t his story. See, his kid, let’s call him George, was into geeky stuff. Aliens, spaceships, space battles, that sort of thing. He went to conventions and collected action figures and build model planes and stuff. He was into things like Flash Gordon. (AH-AHHHH!!!)
So anyway, George grew up and made Star Wars, a film series about one boy’s relationship with his father. The father having a light side (Ben) and a dark side (Vader). Mind. Equals. Blown.
(By the way, read the book Empire Building to find out if I’m telling the truth or not. It goes into way more detail too. You know, being a book and all.)
At some point, George hired this guy called Ed to make digital effects for him. And together they worked on CGI as employer and employee. And also everyone else who was part of the Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Group.
Elsewhere, in a place far, far away… Two people adopted a kid with the promise that he would go to college, when the time came.
The kid, let’s call him Steve, went to college. But he was a rebel, so he took acid, dropped out, and started Apple Computers with his friend, Other Steve.
At some point Apple Computers Inc. (some kind o’ fruit company), made a ton of cash. (And Forrest had one less thing to worry about.)
Then Steve was kicked out with nothing but his slice of the ton of cash. He became bitter and upset for a while, and he swore he’d make his own company, with blackjack, and hookers. (Actually, I think he was rather directionless and aimless.)
MEANWHILE! Another kid, let’s call him John, had a dream. See his hero had made the first ever feature length animation movie. So John was like, I will make the first ever computer generated imagery feature length animation movie!
So he became an animator, and worked for his hero. Unfortunately, his hero had died when John was nine years old. So he was working for his hero’s company.
However, he kind of was a little bit too passionate about making his first ever computer generated blah dee blah dee blah. And, as such, he did things that his bosses didn’t know about, that they didn’t want him to do. So they fired him.
He left and swore he’d make his own films, with toys, and fish.
So he went and looked for a job in CGI. And he found Ed (remember, from earlier), who hired him with some weird job title to sneak it past everyone.
They were making films and it was great. But then George ran into money problems. (Which is a weird thought, him being so clever and keeping the action figure rights from Star Wars, and making bazillions off them and everything else Star Wars. It was a divorce though, and presumably they’re not very fun.) Anyway, he had to sell that part of his company. Dun, dun, dunnnnnn…
But Steve (the fruit guy) saw the CGI production department was for sale and he decided to go and buy it. Because you can do that with a slice of a ton of cash.
The heroes, Steve, Ed, and John, were finally together. Finally they could each realise their dream of making a feature length CGI movie.
And for ten years they made commercials and built computers.
Which was a good idea really. They had to develop the technology and make that lampshade short film, and other cool stuff. But eventually, they did it. John, being the director and creative decider. But Steve and Ed being leaders too.
They made the first ever feature length CGI movie in 1995. It was about a cowboy and spaceman. Cut to twenty or so years later, they have gone down in movie history and been a part of many childhoods.