Friday, December 21, 2012
I’m worried for our generation of children. There is a certain sentimentality that I think is going to be wiped out shortly. As doomsday is upon us it appears that there is no fire raining from the sky but in a small way I think that people were on to something. Not a drastic, lets pick one day to decide the end-of-all-as-we-know-it scenario but more along the lines I’m agreeing with some of the predictions that we are dawning on a new era.
I quite frankly hadn’t given it much thought up until last night. I have been passing the tabloids off as another reason for gullible people to lose their dollars and conniving, slimy people to take them. I mean this is coming from the girl who at the tender age of 20 years old decided to boycott Y2K and spent the night learning how to play crib instead of going to a wild party or hiding in a bunker. What triggered my thoughts was actually an event I’d been anticipating all year. The watching of “The Hobbit”, or I guess the first part of an inexplicable trilogy of someone else’s interpretation of “The Hobbit”.
I’m very much a truest. Not even sure if I can use that as a word in this context but I like things to keep to their word. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flexible to an extent, if there is just reason or cause to change things and as long as they still hit the right notes then I’m quite reasonable. The Hobbit however last night was a mix of both. There were some really amazing parts that made me feel like the book was coming to life before my eyes and then there were some parts that had that distinct sour taste of Hollywood oozing from them. I’m not going to hash out the details. There will be so many opinions either way but I do want to talk about what this means for our children.
The reason The Hobbit is so near and dear to me would be my mother’s fault. She not only instilled the desire to have my nose stuck in a book more often than not but also the love of all things Hobbit. When I was a little girl my mom used to read books to me. I’m sure she read a lot of preschool books to me while I was still pooping in my pants but these aren’t the books I’m talking about. Once I was old enough to sit still longer than 30 seconds and without filling my diaper she began to read novels to me. We started out with stories such as “Charlotte’s Web” and "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" as I grew we moved into books such as “Tarzan” and “The Hobbit”. Even though by this age I could already read these books to myself, she still took the time to bring these stories to life for me. She would snuggle me into her bed all warm and cozy then magically began to paint the picture, she would painstakingly read each character with a different voice and patiently explain the ideas or words to me that needed explaining. These were easily some of the best times and memories of my life. You would be right to assume I was not only thrilled to be going to see “The Hobbit” on the big screen last night but I was able to go with my mom.
Walking away from the movie was a bit of a let-down, it was not even because the movie wasn’t exactly what I expected and I was disappointed. It was more because I’m wondering if I’ll be able to instill any of the same sentimentality into my own kids.
About one month ago my new babysitter had come over to hang out with the kids as a “we’d both like to know what we’re getting ourselves into visit”. When she was leaving she was talking about having to write a paper for school and how she was going to have to do some online research before she could start. I then realized what a different world it is out there. I asked her if she did any research for her papers in the Library at school. She sort of laughed and said that they had certified websites they could pull their research from but rarely looked in books. She had never even heard of the Dewey Decimal System. That was a huge shock to my system. I know that I’m not young anymore but it wasn’t THAT long ago. I know for a fact that my parents used the Dewey Decimal System and my grandparents knew what it was. Finding out there are kids today who have never even heard of it was an eye opener.
Every single book that I hold dearly in childhood memories is now a major motion picture. They are cartoons, video games and bed sheets. While all of this can seem fun the world is just over accessible today. Some of the reasons these books seemed so special was their lack of convenience. It was possibly a book you had to take out of the library which eventually needed to be returned, it was a book read to you one chapter a night that left you longing to hear what happened next, it was the product of imagination and childhood fantasy. Today its force fed to you through pre-views, movies, games, toys, posters on the wall, actors in the tabloids and bad re-runs. There is no reason a person needs to use their imagination any longer because Hollywood does it for you. My mom always said it’s important that you make a kid read a book before watching the movie. I’d love to instill that principle but it’s going to be bloody hard to do when my kid won’t even know what the Dewey Decimal System is. I’ll have to get them a kindle and order the books on wi-fi and sit and force them to read it before visiting their friends who bought the movie the week prior.
It makes me sad to think that there might possibly be no movie out there in 30 years that my kids will want nothing more than to go see with their mother. Today might not be the end of the world or even day one of this new era but I believe we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg and cannot fathom what the next several decades are going to look like.