How To Make Your Child Cinema Literate
Commentary and Guide by Greg Klymkiw
If you don't want your child to become a Philistine, herewith as promised is PART TWO of the handy-dandy Klymkiw Film Corner treatise on coaching select parents and their even more select children to ensure the utmost level of cinema literacy in one's progeny. I realize that most of you can't cut the mustard, and though I bear you no ill will or malice, it's important to avoid eventual heartache and just give up now if you're one of those miserable cretins who are beneath those who have the ability to positively take from this advice and make the most of their children's futures. For you who are, indeed of a superior persuasion, you're in the right place. Here you'll find tips, tricks and some viewing suggestions that allowed MY own child to choose the ideal fork in the road.
And maybe, just maybe, yours too.
In the parlance of Michael Haneke: ROTFLMFAO!
|SILENT, 2-strip & 3-strip TECHNICOLOR and B&W - ONLY|
1. Pre-birth and Toddler Years
Before your child is even born, there are two important things you must do. First of all, place the mother of the child in front of your home entertainment system and screen all the acceptable motion pictures - repeatedly if need be, since this will also be beneficial to the carrier of your seed. If possible, the Mother's belly should be as close to the monitor as possible. This might not work for those who use wall-mounted monitors and/or massive pull-down screens, but do your best. (A well-placed ladder could work wonders here.)
Secondly, prepare viewing lists for the first 2-to-3 years of the child's life. For home viewing, nothing on my list went beyond the release date of the mid-1960s and most were well before that date. Keep in mind that the list must be used as strictly as possible, but I do allow some leeway if the list is used as a springboard to show the child contemporary work inspired by the directors in question.
If, for example, you're going through a period where you're screening an abundance of Warner Brothers gangster films, I'd be delighted to hear that you also screened some select Martin Scorsese pictures for your toddler - notably Mean Streets and Goodfellas. My own child was especially enamoured with the latter title, so I screened it for her repeatedly, BUT made sure to ALWAYS sprinkle said screenings with palate-cleansers like White Heat, The Roaring Twenties, City For Conquest, Scarface (the Howard Hawks version, obviously) and The Public Enemy.
At the end of the day, though, I always made sure that a good many of the films were silent and if they were "talkies", I favoured those that were shot in monochrome (black and white for those of the uninitiated persuasion).
The only colour films on this list (save for contemporary exceptions noted above) are choice classics photographed in original two-or-three-strip Technicolor.
NEVER discriminate with respect to genre - musicals, drama, comedy, horror, western, romance, documentary, neorealism - all are fine so long as they stay within the aforementioned parameters. Remain true to your lists with only minor variants that are mere springboards from whatever is on them.
|RABBIT EARS ONLY|
2. Broadcast Television in Moderation
If you must have broadcast television available, do NOT under any circumstance allow cable television in the home. Use rabbit ears ONLY and make sure you set the channel changer to only carry programming like Teletubbies. When the child is asleep, I highly recommend you fire up a dubie and view Teletubbies all by your lonesome - alone, mind you - no need to corrupt your child. Other people's miserable children will do a good job in the corruption department. (A constant challenge to the bearer of superior parenting skills.)
|TELETUBBIES 4 ALL!!!|
There really are only two acceptable broadcast choices:
(A.) TVO (educational TV in Ontario - if your province does not have educational TV, you lose and if you're American, PBS is not much of a substitute for the excellence and superiority of Canadian public EDUCATIONAL television, but it will have to do I'm afraid and if you're one of my ridiculously huge number of readers in Europe, I know most of you DO have excellent public broadcasting of all kinds).
|A JUBILEE OF CBC|
(B.) CBC (in Canada, this is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, our national public television network - however, since my dear cousin Slawko Klymkiw stopped being the Head of Programming after he got an un-requested ass-fucking for the top-job, the programming became shittier and shittier due to - ahem - "visionaries" - so it's much harder these days, save for some exceptions, to recommend this option, and for my American readers, you're pretty much fucked and my European readers, you already know the score, so go for it).
|SIR NATURE BOY TO YOU!|
Programming choices in Canada for the aforementioned can ONLY be early morning Children's programming, documentaries (preferably "nature" docs - others are fine, but kids fucking LOVE animals, go figure) and extremely select dramatic shows. Programming choices for Americans are nil, though PBS will do if you narrow the choices to nature and select British mystery series. And, uh, you Europeans can pretty much let anything play in your home that's on your publicly owned networks.
3. What movies can your nippers see
In movie theatres, take them to everything and anything (except contemporary Disney, though selective Pixar titles are fine). Screw babysitters. Children's admission prices are free up until two years old (but if you shove a baby bottle in the child's mouth and caution them to NEVER talk, you can stretch the freebies out until they're four years of age). Also, never buy anything at the cinema, just sneak in your own beverages and munchies and if you're really smart, it's not impossible to scope out free or reasonable parking. The myth of how much it could cost you to go to the movies is just that - a myth.
Censorship is, of course, verboten.
That said, toddlers and pre-teens might be better off if you chose not to screen the following titles:
|THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST|
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #1
|SALO: THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM|
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #2
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #3
|THE LION KING|
Probably NOT a Good Idea 2 Show 2 Kids #4
4. Animation: To show or not to show?
Animation poses a special challenge since the bad stuff is REALLY awful, yet all little nippers love cartoons - they really, really do and most importantly you cannot leave animation out if your goal is to boost their cinema literacy. Well, don't fret. That's why I'm here, folks.
The following animation is acceptable for your child:
|Anything by the Fleischer Brothers - includes Popeye, Betty Boop and their many one-offs, the Somewhere in Dreamland-styled Talkartoons|
|Anything by Jan Švankmajer|
|Anything by Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli|
|Any Anime & Manga, but skip pictures involving demons with 20-foot-long penises chasing after pre-teen girls. Anime has tons of violent sexual imagery, so you might wish to pass on anything featuring rape. (For live-action drama - Deliverance and A Clockwork Orange are obvious exceptions to this rule. They're movies all kids must see!)|