Thursday, April 14, 2011

L ~ Life is a Highway

Life is a Highway...I wanna ride it, all night long...

I've long been a fan of kids' movies. I guess it started with all the babysitting I did as a teenager (starting at 50 cents an hour...)when I'd watch those movies with the kids I was entertaining. Back at our house, TV was strictly monitored to two hours a week. I know, right? HOW did we survive??? So at home, I didn't use my precious time on kids' movies. I saved it for Charlie's Angels, Love Boat, and Fantasy Island. (Why my mother censored The Brady Bunch and let us loose on Aaron Spellling shows still baffles me...) (I love you Mom!)

I've enjoyed many movies with my boys as they have been growing up. Not just Pixar's amazing advances in animation and story-telling, but all the good old classic Disney movies, you know the ones where they actually drew each picture. That still boggles me, the work involved. And they didn't give it up that long ago, really. My neighbors, husband and wife, were both Disney animators. He's a cartoonist, and one of his best know pieces is the scene from Tarzan where the young Tarzan swims with the elephants. Apparently bubbles are hard to do right. She was a colorist, yet she poo-poo'd her talent, calling it “paint-by-number-with-a-mouse.” Yeah well, that's her mouse click up there making Jane's dress yellow.

One of my favorite movies of the last decade (I've been a mom for 14 years) is Cars. I was just blown away with the world they created where cars were the people, and the world was turned on edge to accommodate this idea. For me, it just worked. Then of course, there was the catchy sound track. My boys have enjoyed it as well. I think at one point we probably had Lightning McQueen in at least ten incarnations, from towels to bathing suits, toy CARS, lunch boxes, and crocs. Yes, they made Lightning McQueen crocs. Ok, knock-off crocs. But with the front part of him as the toe! What's cooler than that?

But lately I've been wondering about the whole marketing machine we've created. It scares me a little to think of the influence the entertainment world has on our lives. You only need to go to the toy aisle at a Walmart of Target to know which movie is about to be released. The shelves will be filled with every conceivable tie-in toy available just in time for the movie's release. Then we go to the fast-food toys. They are also strategically timed to coincide with the young child's latest obsession. “Mom, let's go to McDonald's cuz they have Lightning McQueen keepsake cups!” And off we go. I mean, if we're going to harm our kids anyway with fast food, why not get ½ hour's worth of free entertainment at the same time?

All these have come to my attention lately as I'm continuing my de-cluttering journey with FlyLady. What was once a must-have is now, “Just a stupid McDonald's toy, Mom.” Yeah, that would be all fine and good. Toss it. But then we have The Engineer. Mr. Ebay. “But isn't someone collecting those (Bionicles, Dalmations, Beanie Babies...)? Maybe we could sell these. Sigh. It's an uphill battle. But I've got the soundtrack.

I wanna ride it, all night long...”

AZ Challenge for the month of April.  Button and navigation in the sidebar.


H said...

I haven't seen Cars. My two are too old to enjoy Disney and also, too young to enjoy Disney. Have you seen Prince of Egypt (Pixar)? I think it's one of my all time favourites. The soundtrack is supurb. (You could whistle along :p)

I totally agree about merchandising. Some of it is really rubbish, but it comes with a movie-related price tag and the kids are all over it. It always strikes me as a form of exploitation, but then if you deny your offspring, you're mean because everyone else has it and they can't join in!

Brian Miller said...

i like Cars as does scare me as well how easily our buying habits are manipulated, our live adjusted by a bit of marketing

Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

Where do I start, so much to say. Your mention of Love Boat sure brought back memories. I had such a crush on Gofer. hehe My favorite show back then though would have to The Dukes of Hazzard. Who didn't love Bo Duke, right?
I have always loved cartoons, still do. Prefer it to watching the news most days. My favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast. The way all the items come to life. Love it. I suppose that's why I love Toy Story so much too. Cars was a big one at my house as well. My son had those same Cars "crocs".
The trouble with these marketed movies is they are so short lived. You go and buy the Cars bedding but by the time son two is of the age to appreciate it it's out of style. Not Cool.
Found your blog via the A-Z challenge. Following You! Come on over and say "hi".
Blue Velvet Vincent

JoJo said...

I enjoyed Cars a lot, but the only version of "Life is a Highway" I'll listen to is the original by Tom Cochrane. lol

Back in college one of my classmates did a documentary for our TV III class about 'what came first? The cartoon or the toy?' and that was in 1986. Just goes to show you that toy/movie/cartoon marketing has been around forever. ;)