It was Friday: pizza and movie night. We were watching a slow-moving drama, Neverland. The movie had nothing in it that was particularly frightening or disturbing. But at one point, the four children in the movie were in a park together and my kids were certain that the children were about to be kidnapped. They expect something dramatically bad to happen even in a mild drama.
It’s an illustration of a point Sharon Lamb made in her presentation Packaging Boyhood, in which she noted that so much in movies and other media, especially when directed at boys, is “over the top.”
“You see a bus coming, you know it’s going to blow up,” she said. And not just once, but there will be multiple explosions. She described an opening scene in the Fantastic Four movie. A move about superheroes would be something that would be attractive to children. But in this opening scene, a man jumps from one of the twin towers on 9/11. This is just too traumatizing for many of the children who are going to want to see the movie.
If children develop a constant sense of anxiety whenever they watch a movie, what is that doing for their development? Can that state of anxiety spill over into real life?