The "It’s for Kids" Qualifier
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t understand a lot about the general populous.
I don’t know why people enjoy Snapchat, the significance of the slang term “bet” eludes me, and I have no idea how the Royal Wedding dominated the news for a month last May. I’ve always felt like a bit of an outsider in this sense. Never fully grasping why large (or even niche) social groups enjoyed what they enjoyed.
I was too punk for folk kids and too folky for the punks. I was too artsy for the pragmatists and to pragmatic for the artists. I was too...myself to make any real headway in a lot of my relationships.
For a long time that hurt. And by a long time I mean to this day. But you know, I’m growing to accept my oddities. My weirdo-ness makes me who I am. I don’t have to explain it, or change it, or qualify it to make others feel better about what they believe. I can just be…me. And that feels pretty good.
Speaking of qualifiers, there’s one people use a lot that really grabs my goat.
I call it the “it’s for kids” qualifier.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard variations of “Incredibles 2 was pretty good for a kids movie, but I wish the villain was stronger.” It’s an illogical, and in my opinion, undeserved qualifier put on what would otherwise be a totally rational opinion. You don’t give Going In Style or Hope Springs a free pass from criticism because they’re targeted at Baby Boomers. You don’t distance yourself from every John Green movie because they’re targeted at Gen Z’s. Why aren’t adults allowed to talk freely about movies if they’re targeted at kids?
There are plenty of features aimed at children that clearly transcend demographic and are hailed as masterpieces. Toy Story, Mulan, E.T., Willy Wonka, Mary Poppins, these films are good because they’ve got great storytelling that appeals both to the nose picking audience and adults. I mean, drama bomb, but PARENTS are the only ones who can even pay the ticket price to see these movies. So just to get a return at the box office kids flicks have to be twice as impressive. With that in mind why would you qualify their successes and failures? If anything, we should be talking about them more in depth!
Coco for example was a tremendously good film that just so happened to be mainly marketed to children. It took all kinds of risks with a semi-unknown cast, dazzled me with visuals, and boasted a killer soundtrack to boot. It complexly touched on family, and betrayal, and death, while still having the goofy staples I expected to see in a movie marketed at those 7 and up. (Unintentional soda pun. Please don’t sue me PepsiCo.) It was entertainment in the best sense of the word. Not just entertaining for its intended audience, but entertaining to me… and I’m not allowed to give it unabashed praise because Coco’s a “kids movie”?
Nah, nah, nah. Bump that.
Coco is one of my all time favorite movies. As one adult to another I fully encourage you to check it out on Netflix. Even if you don’t have kids, or nephews, or nieces, or anyone in your life ages 12 and under. Go check out Coco because it is a great movie. Not because it’s a great kids movie.
These opinions probably make me a little weird. They certainly don’t seem to be that of the majority. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I feel pretty good about it actually.
The it’s for kids qualifier inhibits productive creative discussion and throws a blanket of doubt over people’s good times for NO REASON. It rubs up against all my values when it comes to entertainment and I think it should be abolished. Instead, I hope that we learn to be humble enough to approach entertainment with an open mind. I hope we will be brave enough to talk critically about ALL films because it shows a respect for the art, the artists, and our own time/money. And I hope that we learn to embrace those who are currently a little embarrassed by their love for Pixar or Disney or whatever, because the only thing that separates them from a rated R action junkie, is preference.