Movies, TV and Finding Your “Strange”

I’m about to go get a good night of sleep before the last day of the Shasha Seminar for Human Concerns, a weekend seminar at Wesleyan University that has a completely different theme every year, and draws a wide variety of speakers to the campus. This year the theme is “Defining American Culture: How Movies and TV Get Made.”

The conference has given me a lot to think about. Last night, Mark Harris, film and pop culture critic, spoke eloquently about the future of media, art and commerce. Tonight, Joss Whedon addressed his own career trajectory as a guy trying to tell stories by any means necessary. Great words of advice for writers from the very quotable Mr. Whedon: “Find your strange.” and “Finish it.”

Stay tuned, folks! More commentary to come.

Is “Race to Witch Mountain” Too Violent?

In slightly less indie news, Race to Witch Mountain (Disney’s remake of the old Escape to Witch Mountain) appears to be last weekend’s number 1 movie. Huh. I found this review of Race to Witch Mountain to be particularly interesting. Wesley Morris, Boston Globe film critic, reacted poorly to the movie not only because it was bad, but because he felt it was a very violent movie, given its young target audience.

Dwayne Johnson interview at HK Disneyland as a part of movie Race to Witch Mountain asian junket.

Dwayne Johnson interview at HK Disneyland as a part of movie 'Race to Witch Mountain' asian junket.

In slightly less indie news, Race to Witch Mountain (Disney’s remake of the old Escape to Witch Mountain) appears to be last weekend’s number 1 movie. Huh. I found this review of Race to Witch Mountain to be particularly interesting. Wesley Morris, Boston Globe film critic, reacted poorly to the movie not only because it was bad, but because he felt it was a very violent movie, given its young target audience.

Morris asks two very important questions at the end of his review: Will kids freak out [at this movie]? Could they already be desensitized to that sort of thing?

What kind of violence is okay in kids’ films? What even makes a movie a “kids’ film” and not a “family film?” I remember watching “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” as a kid, a movie that depicts sex, violence and one incredibly scary Christopher Lloyd. And yet, there’s something about the cartoon nature of the violence that made it seem like a family film way back in the day. Then again, what are we trying to protect children from? Are we preventing nightmares, or are we more worried that they’ll mimic what’s on screen?