Friday, January 1, 2021

Tough Talk

It's a question I have low-key dreaded since becoming a parent:

"Dad, what's this quote on you and mom's wedding party favor from?"

The simple answer is, "Annie Hall." The difficult part is the conversation that should inevitably follow.

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Like Many film lovers, 'Becca'lise and I have seen a fair share of our favorite films and filmmakers slide into the category of, "problematic fave." After all, our personal lists of favorite films respectively feature Rosemary's Baby and Annie Hall.

We are aware of the damage wrought by the men who helmed those productions and we do not venerated them, but we also cannot deny what certain films have meant to us over the years. We also cannot deny the artistry of all the other collaborators who made those film possible. We are able to hold such opposing thoughts in our heads at the same time. But what of a child who deals in absolutes of good and bad?

I get that this can be a great starting point for discussing the concept of divisive individuals with your young one, but in the case of Woody Allen, even the issue of why he's worthy of scorn is a whole conversation of its own. But the discussion of problematic artists is an important one to have because it is certain to be a perennial one.

It is only a matter of time before someone involved with something your child loves reveals themselves to be an awful person. We didn't even get a chance to take Lola to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter before J.K. Rowling went full-on TERF. But maybe her awfulness can be used as a teachable moment!

It is much easier to explain to a child that an intolerant person is capable of creating an imaginative world that has brought joy to many, than to explain that an (alleged) sexual assaulter has created works of moral ambiguity that have brought chin-scratching amusement to some.

No matter how you go about it, this is a conversation that will need to happen eventually, so you might as well start peeling that bandaid now. And then you can start working on justifying your exploitation film collection by explaining that depiction does not equal endorsement. Good luck!

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