Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What Was 'On Golden Pond' S'posed to Teach Me?

MalnurturedSnay pointed out this article from last weekend's Baltimore Sun. As a movie buff (or movie fanatic, if we're being truthful), I celebrate the article's implicit justification for all of the time I've spent watching movies in my 31 years. That's not the point of the piece, but that's one of the things I'm taking away from it.

Susan Reimer, who penned the article, explains that we can use movies to explain concepts and historical events to younger folk. She cites a book by Ty Burr called "The Best Old Movie's for Families: a Guide to Watching Together." Frankly, I think this is about as reliable as using Wikipedia for source material in academia. But then Susan and Ty go on to explain that these old movies can spark an interest in literature, or actual historical texts. Well, duh. Kids are like that. They get mad focused on one topic at a time. I have a nephew who decided that the solar system was pretty neat, so he checked out every space-centric book that he could from his school library. This lasted for about six months. Then he moved on to Yu-Gi-Oh! I'm sure his parents were thrilled.

Know what I think? Parents just want to share whatever has deeply moved them, be it "My Fair Lady," or Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. You can couch it in educational opportunities if you want. But the truth is you want your kid to thrill to that kiss at the end of "Sixteen Candles" like you did, or feel the visceral longing of Lloyd Dobler when he's holding the radio over his head, because maybe, just maybe, if they understand those moments, they'll understand you.

For what it's worth, I'm prepared for the disappointment that'll come when I say, "I want my two dollars!" and the Boy stares at me blankly.

Oh, and as for the title of this post. When I was nine years old and furtively reading "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" for the fifth time, my Dad begged me to put it down so I could watch a movie that was coming on during prime time. I was intrigued. My parents never encouraged me to stop reading in favor of TV. What was that movie? "On Golden Pond."

Now, I'm not really sure what my parents thought I'd get out out of this flick at the tender age of nine. My Dad and I have never had a turbulent relationship, per the film's plot, but maybe he thought we were headed in that direction? Not likely, since I'd cry at the thought of parental disappointment. Maybe he figured either he or my Mom would fall prey to Alzheimer's and wanted me to peruse a primer on how to handle it? Eh, knowing my Dad, he was just a big ol' fan for Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn. All I really remember was Henry Fonda's frowny face, Katharine Hepburn's slight palsy, and Jane Fonda's angry dive into a lake, so I'm sure I didn't appreciate it like they did.

Hmmm...the lesson in all of this, I think, is that I should reconsider my plan to foist Judy Blume upon the Girl.

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