Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Messages in celluloid...

I have a cousin who is much younger than me; when he was little, his proclivity for running around the house in his underwear earned him the nickname "SpongeBob No-Pants." Predictably, he hated it and often proclaimed his disgust for the show.

SpongeBob SquarePants debuted 10 years ago this spring. If you were to tell me that 10 years ago, I would have dismissed it out of hand. I was still babysitting then and well-versed in kids shows. I'd seen SBSQ and thought it was stupid, bordering on occasionally gross. But James Parker wrote an article in the June issue of "The Atlantic" that made me re-examine the show more closely for meaning I had not previously attributed to SpongeBob

That article pushed me toward re-thinking other cartoons and looking for lessons hidden in the technicolor. Sneaky adults, trying to sandwich morality between mythical blue creatures wearing white mushroom-shaped hats and multi-colored bears with magical powers in their tummies...

Yahoo! News had an article this morning on a movie remake of "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" that is in the works. Studios are trying to ride the rodent wave begun with "Ratatouille" and continued by "The Tale of Desperaux" and "G-Force." I have to confess, when I read the Newbery medal-winning book years ago, I had a hard time with it. The feeling of having to slog through it comes back to me. I think I struggled to keep all the rats straight. However, as the article pointed out, refreshing my memory, the story - Mrs. Frisby needing the help of former lab rats to move her sick son and escape from imminent death-by-farmer's plow - does have a distinct parable regarding evolution and community about  in it. 

I wish the subject of my last story had been around when I was younger. The New York Times previewed a new web-based (the things they come up with these days...) cartoon-series that will "air" on the AOL website and feature an animated version of super-investor Warren Buffet. The series, called "The Secret Millionaires Club," aims to teach 6-11 year-olds how to be responsible with money and avoid pitfalls like credit cards and impatient investing. While I had no credit cards and no concept of the stock market when I was younger, kids do these days, and it's a smart move to arm them with information now, while they are still adaptable enough to absorb it. 

(Image courtesy of the New York Times)

No comments: