this new year there is a terrible menace with it’s laser beams pointed directly at america’s youth. that menace is the new disney movie version of the book bridge to terabitha. the movie, which is being billed as a fantasy adventure in the vein of the chronicles of narnia or eragon, may in fact be the final nail in the coffin of intelligent children everywhere. the book was by far one of the most disturbing and moving stories i read when i was a kid. it is about a friendship between a boy and a girl who are outsiders in their small community. it tells a story that is involving on multiple levels and that always respects the intelligence of the reader. also it does something that pop children’s literature often fails to do, which is challenge not only readers’ imaginations but also their sense of how the world works. what i am saying is IT IS A FREAKING AWESOME BOOK. when i was a senior in high school the heart breaker/18 year old love of my life steve aman got it for me for christmas and it was about the hottest present i ever received.
anyway, what it appears disney is in the process of doing, is making this mind-blowing book into your average hollywood kid movie. apparently they can’t just make up some 1 dimensional piece of nothing to put their stupid animation in. instead they have to shove it into a story that is about REAL LIFE, that is about kids escaping into their friendship, not the land of whatever. i’m not saying animation is out of place in any serious story (it worked well in heavenly creatures and in the science of sleep) but i have yet to see it used responsibly in a disney kids’ movie. instead of using it to illustrate detachment from reality or some beautiful dream world, disney (and other purveyors of porn for children) use it to illustrate fantasy words with no substance beyond some pointless superficial story line and flashy colors and dragons. because you know, kids need crazy special effects to stay interested. kids, who should be the most imaginative segment of the population, can’t be shown a movie about imagination unless every single possible imagined thing is realized through computer graphics. though usually, when you remove the magical powers in these bright outlandish worlds, what you are left with is a story as ordinary and useless and boring as your average episode of will and grace.
i know some people think it’s ridiculous that i am all about children’s literature teaching children something good. like, what is good? why does it have to be preachy? etc etc etc. but the thing is, i think people with that attitude are missing the point of literature, movies, television, the ORIGINAL POINT, of all stories really which is to inform us about ourselves and our world. i don’t think kids should be reading tracts on the benefits of broccoli and safe sex. i just think everybody deserves to read books that help them make sense of the world. the actual world. not the sitcom world or the hogwarts world but you know, earth. i personally don’t see the point in reading bad books and i try not to do it and i think everyone else, whether they are 6 or 48 should do the same thing. in fact, i believe that if people stopped believing crap they saw on tv and started living their lives based on things they have read in good books (“good” defined as something that when you read it, you understand the truth of it for yourself) and what they have experienced in real life, we would probably have at least 10 less problems on this planet.
i’m serious. boycott the movie bridge to terabitha and go read the book. it is sad. it is really really sad. it might make you uncomfortable and it might bring up some troubling ambiguities in human relationships. but i still think you should read it. unless you are a really little kid. but i think 8 year olds can read it. everyone knows most 8 year olds could use a little toughening up anyway.