Sunday, November 15, 2009

Go To Hell

That's what Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are, is telling parents who feel the movie adaptation is too frightening for young children. He's also telling said frightened children to go home and/or went their pants.

I so love this man.

But is it ok? Of course I think it is but I also think that the level of ok of telling parents to go to hell if they have problems with certain books also depends on what mouth it's coming out of. Would it still be ok if Judy Blume said it? Or would the collective media gasp and wonder what happened to such a nice woman? Is such language expected of an aging male? Oh, he's just the cranky guy but what he says is so funny! Is it only ok if it comes out of the right mouth?

Surely I'd be the bitch author and a publicity nightmare if I came out during a press conference and told parents who took issue with my books to eat shit. Regardless of the fact that I think I would still garner a lot of support, I'm still not going to look good to a lot of people. But does Sendak still look ok? Does he appear to be any crankier or moodier of a person because he's basically telling cranky parents to fuck off?

What do you think?


Bleuette said...

Hard Question, on the one hand it is their right to an opinion,but that doesn't mean you go and annoy the author until you make him snap.

Unknown said...

WOW! You have to admire his guts. But I do not think that is probably a good response from a PR stand point. I saw the movie and did think it was a little scary for kids. I mean I even told my Aunt that she should not take her 8 year old child to see it. In the end she did, and the child was scared and even cried in parts due to that.

Maria D'Isidoro said...

I admire his guts, but I also lose respect for him for handling the issue with such poor grace. This isn't JUST about the parents. While some kids can watch this movie and be totally down with it, there are going to be children who can't cope with it. The parents are handling the controversy with poor grace as well, but that doesn't give him a free pass to be an asshat. These are little kids. Gotta walk a fine line with them.

I was a tough little girl. I watched lots of movies that were 'too old' for me without being harmed or scared by them. But not all little kids are like me and parents need to know what their kids limits are. When my mom had doubts about the maturity level of a movie for me or my brother, she would go see it without us first to get a feel for. It worked like a charm and the only movies that scared me as a kid were the ones my dad showed me. "Predator 2" for the 8 year old, anybody?

She did the same thing with some books too. She never forbid me to read anything, but she would say 'wait until you're a little older' for some. I've read almost all of them now and she was right about making me wait. But there was no rebellion on my part about them because she always explained in great detail why those books were too mature. They dealt with issues that would either have frightened me needlessly or been over my head.

So 1- Responsibility check for parents: if there is controversy about a movie you want to see with your kids, see it without them first to judge for yourself. Don't snap at the author and filmmakers when you've already been warned.

2- Author and filmmaker courtesy check: Don't be assholes to parents when there is a legit concern, even if they may deserve it. It just makes you look bad.

Lexie said...

I'm too young to remember when the book itself came out, but my parents have always said that Where the Wild Things Are has always been a source of contention amongst parents and the author. Some argued its too scary, others argued it sent the wrong message and the author has always just been like 'Shut up and put up'.

I don't know if this is a good response, but parents have become way too cautious in what their kids should read/watch. Its not as if the movie is violence for violence sake or gory or sexual in nature--there are thematic reasons for the 'fright' level. Are these the same parents that denounced Pixar's 'Up' and 'Finding Nemo' as having 'depressing themes' because someone dies?

Rebecca Herman said...

I think it's a poor attitude to have from a PR standpoint, and I also think his comments towards little kids who might be scared are pretty mean/nasty. Not every book/movie is right for every kid, kids mature at different rates.

Donna (Bites) said...

Great responses, guys! You know, I didn't quite look at it the same way as the rest of you. I read the article and basically just saw parents complaining yet again about what they consider to be age-inappropriate material, saw the author response and went YES!

From a PR standpoint, those parents are the ones buying these books for kids so no, it's not the best thing to tell your prime buyers to go to hell if they don't like it.

As for the children aspect, in all honesty, it's really hard for me to gauge what's too old for a kid and what isn't. I mean, I saw Poltergeist when I was 4. Hello? To me a book about monsters for an 8 year old appears appropriate.

But if you read the article, Sendak explains what his book is about. It's not that these monsters are scary, as in really scary you really should pee your pants, but they just appear scary. It's about seeing someone else with customs that are unfamiliar to you, especially to a child, and they may be frightened by them (adults pinching at your face, for instance) but the action is not meant to frighten you but it's an act of love and adoration. I think it's just another great opportunity to have parents open up another window of conversation with their children.

I don't even know what the age rage for this book is but if a child becomes frightened by it, it can give the parent a means to step back and explain what's going on, to make their children a little less afraid.

I mean, overall, the book is about acceptance and understanding so, really, I don't blame Sendak for snapping at parents that complain it's not appropriate for their kids. Then don't have them watch it, duh. Or, like was mentioned about, screen it first if you're unsure. I know it's not the best choice of words, and Sendak definitely looks like the mean old man for telling kids to basically suck it up but I can tell you, you guys would have HATED my gymnastics coach. She was telling me things at 7 that drill sergeants scream as plebes. So I'm a little slanted there.

M.A.D. said...

Mary D

While I realize there is more at stake (especially as far as PR and sales, etc go) than the author's ballzy remark, I STILL think "Go, Team!" when reading this ... GOOD FOR HIM lol

Honestly, if parent's have a problem, then don't allow your kids to see the movie, read the book, etc. Crimminy! Personally, I'm just sick to death of the namby pamby 'soccer moms' and their ilk who take issue with anything that isn't Disney.

I'm not endorsing his off-the-cuff retort, but it still made me laugh, and I half-admire his courage to 'emphatically' LOL dismiss his detractors.

Even if he could have displayed greater tact, you just KNOW it had to feel good to tell 'em where to go :D

ps - My kids grew up with the book, and they loved it

Sage Ravenwood said...

I'm right up there with Sendak. I think too many parents today pamper their kids to the point of being more damaging rather than supporting. Yet they blame everything else, books, movies and other people for how their child reacts. (Hugs)Indigo

Reading said...

If parents don't like it, then don't go see the movie. This is something that you have to actively see out. Not somthing that a child could turn on TV and watch. I have two boys, ages 6 and 11. They love the scary stuff. I can understand the authors frustration. But being an author, a wordsmith, he could have said it a little better.

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