Disclaimer: The title of this post is not literal
“What a morbid title. Why would I want to kill a baby?” Well a part of you must want to if you’re reading this, you awful human being. ANYWAY, might not seem like it now but I actually want to talk about something that I have a massive opinion and more relevant than the normal crap I post, and that’s children’s TV and movies.
So when we were younger we all had a favourite TV show and film whether it was Power Rangers or Roly Poly Olie (if that’s how you spell it) children’s media played a big part in our lives. We didn’t want to read or write we just wanted to see if Tinky Winky was going to tell his fellow teletubbies that his handbag was part of a bigger conspiracy. You know what I’m talking about it. So the subject I want to talk about is the spectrum of how much kids should be protected from sensitive subjects in children’s TV. Now obviously coming from a Film and TV background I’m biased so in my opinion I believe that children’s media has massive role to play in a child’s development. When you’re a child your brain is like a sponge and you’re just picking up all these new things without even knowing it which is why most of children’s TV has a very clear positive message. Which is great, if TV and film should do anything its to promote a positive attitude towards life especially in children’s TV.
But does this mean that children’s TV shouldn’t include subjects such as death. We’re now in a golden age of television where the shows that are being broadcast are becoming much more experimental with the topics portrayed and children, I believe, are becoming much more active in the way they watch TV. This gives producers an opportunity to raise their game and make something that resonates with the children. I mean yeah watching Peppa Pig play with his friends is all good but I’ll probably forget that next week. Now let me make this clear when I say children’s TV I’m not talking about pre-schoolers but around the age of 7+ when kids are much more aware of the world around them. Too many times children’s TV and films are too scared to say the word “dead” and will use some alternative like “gone”. But why? I mean death is a part of life. Some time in that child’s life they will most likely have to experience a death of someone close to them. What better way to help educate them of death and its implications than through television? Now I’m not saying this means we should kill people off all over the gaff but if it’s right for the story that this particular character should die then they should die. Kids learn a lot from TV and often take it for real life. If a child sees a character dealing with a death in a certain way then uses this same technique to deal with a death in real life is this not a good thing. Let’s start giving kids more credit and stop molly-coddling them.
Some of the best children’s movies have a death in them. Finding Nemo, Lion King, Big Hero 6, Up, which might I add also portrayed a miscarriage. Also the death in all these film were integral to the story and they wouldn’t be the same without them. In my opinion the death is what makes these films. No, I’m not the Grim Reaper and death is not a fetish but death can happen to anyone at any time and I just feel like this should be accurately portrayed. This is why I love Game of Thrones so much. Films are supposed to take you on an emotional journey. Up for example is one of the most uplifting (pardon the pun) films I’ve ever seen and it includes a death. Death doesn’t necessarily mean bad. What I love about the portrayal of death in TV and cinema is the way the characters deal with it and this is where the lessons come from and how children can be educated. None of these children’s movies showed a brutal death a la Prince Oberynn (if you haven’t seen that scene, don’t watch it). Every death is a device spurring the protagonist to go on the journey they need to go on. Now I’m fortunate enough that I have not had to say goodbye to someone I’ve been close with. But if I had, especially when I was younger, I am almost certain that these films would’ve been a great help. You hear of people saying they listen to music when they feel down or need cheering up. Well film and TV are the same.
Moving away from death but I was pleasantly surprised to realise that in the CBBC television show The Dumping Ground they portrayed a same sex couple looking to foster a child. I don’t believe this would have been a thing a decade ago. It’s great that we’re exposing children to what the world is really like but still keeping that positive outlook. Hopefully seeing that on television will desensitise the child and they will accept the fact that that is just what the world is. Not to mention the programmes casting of disabled actors and actresses. Not once is it overtly mentioned that these children have disabilities they are just who they are and there are people with the same disabilities in the world.
Now if you’re a parent and you don’t want your children exposed to sensitive subjects like that then that’s totally fine as well. I just feel like that if they are to learn about a sensitive social, cultural or personal issue then TV and Film is a great way to do it. It not only serves the purpose to educate young viewers but also can build the foundations for great storytelling.
Disclaimer: The title of this post is not literal