STAFF EDITORIAL: Children need discussion, not moral condescension

Modern society undervalues the benefits of giving children a good scare.

More importantly, society needs to understand the importance of honest discussion between family members about the value of character in a world that has more gray in it than black and white.

This tendency fell into sharp relief Friday when Where the Wild Things Are made a rumpus in box offices.

The movie portrays the tantrums of a lonely 9-year-old who, like many young children, has not learned how to control his anger. Despite the film’s lack of clear resolution or punishment, this honest portrayal of the human condition is more beneficial to a growing mind than a clear-cut, unrealistic piece of morality propaganda.

Children walk themselves to bus stops, spend time away from their parents with friends who may or may not be trustworthy, and make hundreds of personal decisions every day. Limiting their artistic intake to sanitized narratives that portray moral issues and human interactions as clean battles between heroic good guys and evil villains is just as unhealthy for a developing child as a film that dares to celebrate the world’s complexity.

Furthermore, criticizing a film on the basis that it promotes so-called immoral behavior presents the problematic notion that there is a universal set of ethics and morals that all people follow and that filmmakers are obligated to promote in their artwork.

The United States is not a theocracy that believes in one common set of moral and ethical standards for all people. The claim that a filmmaker must limit their vision to mollycoddle a niche population’s desires is close-minded at best and laughably na’iuml;ve and outrageously offensive at worst.

Instead of censoring beautiful films for raising initially uncomfortable questions, people should embrace the gray areas and confusion as opportunity for honest and thoughtful discussion.

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