Sunday, December 16, 2018

Age of Innocence

by Olina Stefansson (writer), Los Angeles, January 29, 2007

As a parent I frequently find myself involuntarily watching children's TV. And I have to admit that these gatherings around the box slightly infuriate me.
Anyone who has any experience with children knows their creative imagination. Their endless ability to create logic out of completely illogical situations. Children also possess a natural interest in dramatic situations and emotions.
They usually (thank whoever you like) have an instinctive compassion for others and intuitively read complex situations far sooner than we adults. They are incredibly sensitive to atmosphere even though they may not be able to express in words what is going on.
And these abilities can be developed by various means.
And that's exactly what I want to talk about. Most children´s programs, and let´s admit that they watch a lot of them, are completely void of emotions. It is not the time spent watching that I want to discuss, it is the quality of the material that the multimillion dollar business of Children’s TV produces.
First I would like to speculate why characters in children´s TV series so often are two- dimensional. They don´t possess any flaws and no real abilities either. And they rarely are human.
It is as if any resemblance of real life is washed out of the characteristics of most of them. They never get sad, and they never experience real trouble that resembles life situations or conflicts. They don´t convey any emotions, thus not enabling children to get really involved.
Mesmerizing is easy. Colorful images, freakish characters, monotonous music, rapid editing are torture tools that are more at home in prisons than in children´s programs.
What happened to good old storytelling? Vivid interesting characters that we can relate to and feel for. Stories that touch issues like unfairness, failure, true friendship, achievement through determination and not because of some freakish incident.
Stories that exercise compassion, compassion, compassion.
And believe me, the world needs it!
Children thrive on trying out and exploring their and others’ emotions. My five year old threatens on numerous occasions to leave home to see my reaction. She pretends her dolls are abandoned and she comes to their rescue armed with remedies. She sadistically rearranges things in her older siblings bedroom to create chaos, conflict and reaction. These are all exercises for adult life and clearly express a joy for dramatic situations and the love of the incredible mistery of action – reaction.
We as adults find it difficult to define truthfully what makes us tick even if it is very simple.
We get profoundly lost in translation when we try to be intellectual when speaking of our love of books or movies. Why? It is so simple. We develop a love or interest in a character. We get involved with their hopes and fears and we care how they live or die. We exercise our emotions to enrich our dull existence and often come to the conclusion that literature and movies are far more fulfilling than real life. That’s the gift of art. And our children deserve quality stuff.

About the Writer

Olina Stefansson is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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