Friday, April 4, 2008

You let your child watch what!?! LOTR

There are only a few parenting blogs that I read; one of them is GeekDad at Jacob Russell has an on-going series: "You let our child watch what?!?" It is very amusing. Recently, he has been running through the original series of Star Trek.

Of course, that blog implies a dispute between parents. That isn't the case in our family where it is mutual consent. However, it can still inspire horror in others.

Our latest controversial move was to let our 9 year old watch all 12-odd hours of the extended version of Lord of the Rings. It was over several weeks in six sittings.

Now there are several levels of horror at this. First of all is the horror of not having her read the books first. To which my reaction is: I tried but didn't manage it, no need to expect any more from our daughter. Why restrict access to a ripper of a yarn?

The main reaction of course is that it is a tad violent. Thousands are killed in graphic detail, with lots of scary monsters, one big spider, murderous thoughts and a dual personality creature peppered with lighter moments consisting of talking trees and merry small folk. Suffice it to say, our daughter whose preference is the scarier the better, just loved it.

But I think what really worked for her was the premise of the trilogy. The basic idea what armies would fight for centuries over the possession of a ring played right into her materialistic tendencies. Why wouldn't they do this even if the 'powers' it possesses are relatively undefined? From her perspective it was enough that the ring was unique, rare and precious. Indeed, I think she related most with Gollum who sacrificed everything just to own the ring and never used it for world domination. She felt he died happy; there were no losers. She too would not have cast the ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom except, of course, if that was the only way to keep others from possessing it.

To be sure, this is unlikely to be the reaction Tolkien would have been going for. But that is the thing with great literature (movies). Everyone takes away something a little different.