Arts & Entertainment, Opinion

Why are so many people watching kids’ films in college?

(First published in The Bison student newspaper)

We’re all guilty of it sometimes. It’s hard to resist.

But then again, if you’re like me you don’t try to resist it all. Plus, I did it for homework this time, so I get a free pass, right?

While you could say these sentiments about a lot of things, I’m talking about watching kid’s movies.

“WALL-E,” specifically. One hour and 38 min. of my time spent watching a predominately voiceless robot roll around a movie that was clearly made for tiny tots and yet I, a 22-year-old, nearly cried.

Something in that silly, little, cute hunk of imaginary metal, roaming around a dissolute planet, touched me and I nearly cried. I almost didn’t want to watch the rest and it’s not the first time this has happened.

Nor will it be the last.

“Big Hero 6,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Frozen” – any Disney movie really – these films are all among my favorites and they all touched me.

Many of my friends express similar opinions.

Yet at the same time, we call them mere children’s movies and often laugh them off as less important, less significant than other films.

True, some children’s movies are hardly tolerable by children, much less anyone else (I’m looking at you “Sing”).

But then again, some of them are magic. You just have to wait to be taken captive by their spell.

They formulate their powers through deceptive simplicity. They seem so innocent: cute, warm, fuzzy.

Their premises are ridiculous. Who would ever believe a single thing that happens in the blatantly false universes of the “The Incredibles” or “Despicable Me”?

Even the techniques used to make these films and shows seem unemotional. They are nothing but a series of computer generated or hand drawn images, blinking by so fast they seem to move.

And yet, watching “Star Wars: The Clone WarsI felt a deeper connection with the story on screen than I have watching any of the first six Star Wars films.

Forget that it’s an animated kid’s show, first released on Disney channel. It’s beautiful.

Watching these movies is one of the greatest blessings in this over-stressed college students’ life. It’s helped me survive midterms and at least one (minor) life crisis and I know I’m not alone in this.

So I believe there’s a valid reason these kid’s programs touch me and many of my peers so much.

Writing and producing work for child audiences is surprisingly hard.

Just think of how quickly a group of kids gets distracted during children’s time in Church service and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Kids have incredibly short attention spans and a remarkable ability to pick up details and ideas that their elders might miss.

If something in a story is unconvincing, kids won’t sit around waiting for you to persuade them to pay attention. They’ll change the channel, start begging mom and dad for cookies or complain – loudly – in the middle of the movie theatre.

Children are the harshest film critics in existence because not only do they have major opinions, they also don’t filter them.

Satisfying these demands can be exasperating to anyone. But when films meet children’s artistic expectations, the results can be amazing.

Kids dive into a great film or show with the exact same enthusiasm that they use to hate on a poorly made one. Any babysitter can probably attest to what chores kids will race to complete in order to gain the reward of watching their favorite film for the 18th time. This sudden willingness to do the work stems from their whole heated love movies.

Sometimes I think we, as their elders, could do better to emulate the way children approach films and TV.

They’re fascinated by them, but not taken in. They’ll fall in love with Elsa and want to sing nothing but “Let It Go” for weeks, but they’ll also demand that unconvincing or boring plots go to the wayside.

So, I’m not ashamed that I love good children’s movies. A movie produced with high standards is a good movie, no matter who the intended audience is.

I’d urge you to join me in learning this lesson from little kids.

Hold films and TV accountable, but never be afraid to fall in love with one. Take every excuse you get to wear your hero cap, your tiara or your medieval sword.

And maybe…

Just maybe…

You can let go of the pressures of college life for a little while.