Consider for a moment some of our children’s greatest fictional heroes. Luke Skywalker grows up thinking his father is dead. Harry Potter: orphaned as an infant. Ditto Superman. One looks further into the literary pantheon for the pint-sized — Cinderella, Spiderman, Tarzan, Sleeping Beauty, Lemony Snicket’s Baudelaire children, Batman, C.S. Lewis’s Pevensie kids — and it’s hard not to spot a common familial theme: where the hell are all these kids’ folks?Reactions?
Obviously it’s Mythmaking 101 to begin a hero’s journey with some initiating trauma. But does that trauma have to occur so frequently before the hero’s earliest memory? Maybe it does.
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I hasten to add that Max is a happy, well-adjusted child. . . .
But some adopted children under less happy circumstances, like Harry Potter with his hateful relatives at 4 Privet Drive, struggle with abandonment issues and other psychological hurdles. Even kids who land with adoptive parents as loving and supportive as Jonathan and Martha Kent may wonder why they were “given up.” (Actually, the correct term is placed. Bridle against PC language if you will, but watch what you say in front of my kid). And as such, should parental separation be such commonplace story fodder for entertainment aimed at kids?
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For plenty of kids, stories about young people with dead, absent or galactically evil parents are a novelty, a look into a different life. For other kids, they can be a raw nerve. Most raw nerves are treated with some sensitivity, but not this one.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Children's Movies Have Too Many Orphans
So says Jeff Alexander at Time Magazine, with the tag line, "Parental separation makes for a great plot point, but try telling that to a parent of an adopted child."