Looney Tunes Gets Bloody, Is it Too Much for Kids?

October 8, 2008

I just read about a new art exhibit called “Splatter” where Looney Tunes characters are taken to the next violent level – complete with blood and guts.

jCauty&SON copyright out of control 2008, courtesy of THE AQUARIUM

Artist James Cauty created the controversial exhibition with his 15-year-old son Harry Photo: jCauty&SON copyright out of control 2008, courtesy of THE AQUARIUM

According to the Telegraph, the exhibit claims to show your favorite Looney Tune characters in “unrelenting acts of blood and discomfort never previously witnessed on the Cartoon Network.”

The exhibit itself doesn’t bother me.  I’m all for free expression.  I don’t think my kids are mature enough to see that kind of thing yet, so I simply won’t take them.  Others are free to see the exhibit if it interests them.  The gallery even attached a parental advisory to the exhibit.  I’m fine with that.

What did upset me was a statement by artist James Cauty.

“I’m a parent myself, and if I saw pictures like that I would think of something kids would really love, because it’s no holds-barred violence.”

I find the statement terribly disturbing.  I’m a parent and I don’t want my young kids to be getting that excited about “no holds-barred violence.”

We should be teaching our children about limits, not “no holds-barred.”  We should be stressing the importance of right and wrong, not the bloodier the better.

What does it say about our society that we are encouraging our kids to get excited about violence, that blood and guts are “fun.”

I currently limit the amount of Looney Tunes cartoons my kids can watch.  They are extremely violent as is.  We have discussion after watching them about what is right and what is wrong.

I watched Looney Tunes growing up and I turned out ok.  But I was raised with a strong moral foundation.  Even so there’s a big difference between watching an anvil drop on coyote’s head and watching Jerry mutilate Tom.

There’s no way I’d let my kids into that exhibit until they were much, much older.  They need to be mature enough to understand what is “entertainment” only.  They should know why it’s really not fun when people get hurt.

But the idea that our kids are getting excited about extreme violence, that they find blood and mutilation fun, scares me.  Because too many kids are mature enough to distinguish between reality and entertainment and too many aren’t getting the moral discussions to distinguish between right and wrong.

What do you think are we as society doing too much to encourage this trend among our children that the more, bloodier violence is a good thing?  Are we setting up our children for trouble in the future?


New Trend Not About How Much, But What TV Children Watch

September 16, 2008

I have long been a proponent for television.  While the party line has been that it will rot your brain, I have always thought that it could be a useful tool in childhood development when applied correctly.  Finally, the experts have come around to my way of thinking.

The recent New York Times article “Limiting, and Watching, What Children Watch” talks about the vast media smorgasboard available to children today.

Is there any hope for a balanced meal?

Yes, say experts on children and the media, as long as parents teach children to make good choices. Instead of talking only about time limits – the pediatricians’ academy recommends limiting screen time to one to two hours a day – researchers are zeroing in on trouble spots and taking content into account. New guidelines are taking shape: Keep the television and computer out of the child’s bedroom, don’t be afraid to set limits, pay attention to what appears on screen and how different ages respond to it, and encourage children to think critically about what they see.

I couldn’t have said it better. I have long argued it’s not how much TV children watch, but watch they watches and what else they do.

As a big TV addict myself, I’ve never been good at limiting the number of hours my kids watch TV.

Instead I’m a strict about what they watch – educational television.  They spend most of their TV time on shows on Disney Playhouse and Noggin.  

We have lots of discussions and activities around their favorite shows.  If it’s a show with questionable content or a delicate issue (we watch one show about the race riots in the 60s), we watch it together and then talk about the issue. 

Here’s an article I wrote how you can reinforce what these shows teach with additional activities and conversations.  And how these actions also teach your children there is more to their world of interest that what’s on the television.

And finally we balance our TV time with lots of other activities that don’t involve the TV at all like gym class, art class, play dates and field trips.

The same can be said of the Internet.  Don’t be afraid to let your children get on it.  Instead teach the how useful it can be and monitor their usage.  Sites like Disney, PBS and others offer educational games. 

I recently discovered a website called Kids Off the Couch that incorporates television and the Internet with educational activities.

So instead of banning television or the net, use it to your advantage.


Finally, a Children’s CD Parents can Enjoy

April 2, 2008

I’ve listened to enough Wiggles songs to make my head explode.  I’ve heard every song that Dora the Explorer and her cousin Diego have ever recited.  I know all the words to the Sesame Street classics.  But what else can I do?

You see my children like music – I mean really like music.  And in my effort to be a good parent, I try to cultivate that interest by surrounding them with music they enjoy.

Anything is PossibleAnd while they might treasure the sounds of their favorite TV characters, the repetition of that music on a daily basis is enough to test the sanity of even the best parents.

But when I’ve overdosed on children’s music, I can hardly put in Aerosmith or the Rolling Stones.  Not only is the language and references to sex and drugs questionable content for two year olds, but my kids find most of my music choices too loud (I know it’s only a short amount of time before I have the same claim about their music).

That Baby DVDBut I think I’ve finally found a CD that the children and I can enjoy together.  That Baby CD combines music made famous by some of my favorite artists with a nice acoustic sound that my kids can enjoy too.

“We are one of the few out there that have decided to take children’s music into a new direction,” said Rob Wolf, co- founder of OyBaby LLC, company behind That Baby CD.

That Baby CD has pushed children’s music further than ever before by trying to create “something that the entire family can enjoy,” Rob said.

And I think That Baby CD did just that.  The music is danceable.  The children can clap their hands to it.  Parent can – and will want to – sing along with the music, music they know from artists like Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley. 

This CD has something for everyone.  It’s perfect for those long car rides when tensions run high and boredom sets in.  Parents can feel comfortable about putting in That Baby CD to liven up those long trips with some snappy music that gets your feet tapping and your voice singing along with the familiar words.

“I think the music has to accessible to [the children].  It has to have melodies that are catchy and words that are appropriate,” Rob said.

Rob combined his hobby video editing with Lisi’s photography skills and the pair’s love of music to produce their third children’s album.

“We struck a chord with a product that fits a need for a lot of families,” Rob said, adding that it’s a labor of love for him and Lisi.

The Wolfs first venture, OyBaby, and its sequel OyBaby 2, focused on Jewish music for babies and kids.  They wanted a way share their Jewish heritage with their children.  Both albums were well received with more than 40,000 copies sold in the U.S. and 15 other countries.

So when non-Jewish friends started asking the Wolfs for a CD that they could enjoy with their children, Rob and Lisi were happy to oblige.

In 2007, the Wolfs decided to take the things that succeeded in OyBaby and turn them into a non-religious product.  And it was only natural for them to turn again to their friend Stephanie Schneiderman, and her sisters Lisa Schneiderman and Kim Palumbis, to record their songs.

Stephanie, who has done the arrangement for all three of the Wolfs’ children’s albums, is an accomplished musician in her own right with five solo albums under her belt.  She and her sisters sing 10 of the 14 songs on the CD.

And the 14 songs came out of a lot of brainstorming on Rob and Lisi’s part.  After weeks of looking for potential songs, they came up with a list of 30 which they eventually pared down to those on the CD.

But don’t ask Rob to pick his favorite:

“That’s like asking me which is my favorite child,” he said.

I, on the other hand, have already selected my top choices – The Pretenders “Brass in Pocket” and 10,000 Maniacs “These are Days.”

The kids and I put the CD in and dance around the living room to those two tunes all the time.  It’s a great chance for them to experiment with their own dancing style.

But if you are afraid that that your little one won’t identify with the words, then you should try out That Baby DVD that comes with a child-friendly video accompaniment for each song (the picture at the top of this article is from video for Jonny Lang’s “Anything is Possible”). 

The DVD gives the children a chance to “visually put their mind to” an image when they are later listening to the CD in the car.

So if you are looking for music for your children that won’t drive you crazy, check out That Baby CD


A Look at the new Speed Racer Trailers

March 10, 2008

I grew up around cars.  My father used to lull me to sleep as a child with a trip around the block in his dragster.  I spent many weekends during my youth at the racetrack.  So it’s no surprise I like television shows with great cars and, as a kid, liked a cartoon about a boy and his car – Speed Racer.

Mach 5But in reality, I haven’t watched a Speed Racer cartoon in ages.  In fact, I’d forgotten all about the Mach 5 and Speed, Trixie and the gang until I heard that the Wachowski brothers, the duo behind the Matrix trilogy, were bringing the ‘60s Japanese anime to the big screen in a live action feature in May.

At the time, I was intrigued by the resurrection of a childhood favorite.  After seeing the two new international trailers just released, I am a lot more that intrigued.  I am eagerly anticipating the May 9 release date.

At let me tell you, from what I saw in the trailer, this movie isn’t the cartoon of my youth.  Wow!  If the trailers are any indication this movie is going to be action packed with a Mach 5 that will blow your mind.

And the characters are not stuck in the ‘60s either.  In fact, the Racer universe seems a bit futuristic and very colorful.

I’ve followed the casting news for the movie, but wasn’t sure how the actors where going to fill the shoes of the cartoon images.  Let’s just say, hats off to the casting and wardrobe because I was blown away the resemblances.

Speed RacerEmile Hirsh is perfect for the role of Speed, right down to the spit curl on his forehead.  Although Speed is a little older than I remember in the cartoon.  And Christina Ricci looked great as Speed’s loyal girlfriend, Trixie.

The Speed family is rounded out with John Goodman as Pops, Susan Sarandon as Ma and Paulie Litt as little brother Spittle.  Although we didn’t get to see him in the trailer Scott Porter will play Speed’s older brother, Rex and Kick Gurry will fill the shoes of the quirky mechanic, Sparky.

But we did get a look at Speed’s one-time nemesis, Matthew Fox as Racer X.  (Loyal fans of the series might have a question here.  But I don’t want to spoil the movie for newcomers, so let’s just say you’ve got to watch the movie to understand).

In the movie, Speed is going to team with Racer X to win the Crucible, a dangerous cross-country race that took the life of Rex.  But Speed has to do more than avenge his brother; he must defeat the rich and powerful Royalton (Roger Allam) who is behind the fixing of races and the plan to stop Speed at all costs.

This summer is going to be a very popular summer at the theater.

Are you looking forward to the Speed Racer movie?


Where do your kids go on the web?

September 4, 2007

My twins are only two, but they are already fascinated with the computer.  While I’m extremely proud of their interest in technology, I’m also a little afraid. 

Both of my children love to get on my lap while I’m working and play with the mouse or pretend to type.  They love to get e-cards from Grandma.  And they like looking at the Playhouse Disney site with Mommy because it has all their favorite characters.

My husband and I have discussed it and think its time for the twins to get their own computer. Nothing fancy.  Just a basic model, making even a refurbished one.  But what computer is not the difficult decision.  Besides, some learning games we buy, where else can my toddlers go safely on the computer?

The Internet opens up a whole wide world of information and activities, but it also opens up a world of creepiest scum out there peddingling stuff I don’t want my children to be exposed to.

I recently came across this list of 50 Sites for Kids that I’ll be bookmarking.  Some of them are still to old for the twins, but they’ll be handy in the future.  Like the list of sites for help with homework and news.

For toddlers, I think these are my top choices:

Playhouse Disney — Games and activities featuring all the twins favorite characters — Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and My Friends, Tigger and Pooh.

Seussville — Games revolving around our favorite rhyming author.

Sesame Street — Games involving the lovable muppets from Sesame Street.  Includes printable coloring pages.

Nick Jr. — The twins can enjoy activities with Blue, Dora, Diego, The Backyardigans and Wonder Pets.

Boomrang — I want my children to be able to enjoy the classic cartoons from my youth including Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes, The Flinstones and The Jetsons.

Crayola — A plethora of arts & craft activities for every age.  The site has online coloring pages.

What are your children’s favorite website?  What would you recommend me bookmarking for the toddlers?


Damon to Guest Star on ‘Arthur’

August 15, 2007

I’m guessing that it won’t be his box office success with The Borne Ultimatum that will capture Matt Damon’s daughter’s attention, but his latest guest starring role.  An animated Damon will guest star on the September 3 episode of Arthur, according to the Boston Herald.

Matt DamonDamon, complete with animal ears and nose, will host “Postcards from You” that encourage children to send in homemade videos and will cause the friendly aardvark and his friends to produce their own vidoes for submission.

I think it’s great when actors and actresses take time to guest star in children’s programs, especially stars that are parents too.  Tina Fey was on Sesame Street this week.

Personally, I don’t think my children would know who Matt Damon is, but then again they are only two.  But it’s still a great idea.  Also, guest stars like Damon are a great way to get the parents to watch these shows with the kids.


Thomas the Train on the Big Screen for One Day Only

August 14, 2007

Our favorite blue train will be hitting select theaters nationwide for one day only.  On Saturday, September 8, the first ever Thomas & Friends on the Big Screen will be screened in a special 10 a.m. showing.

Thomas the TrainFathom Events is sponsoring this 60-minute cinema event featuring Thomas the Train.  The showing will include new episodes and three new characters.  Moviegoers will also be treated to sing-alongs and trivia.  At the end of the event attendees will receive a $5 Walmart gift card and a Thomas activity book.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased for $7 at fathomevents.com.

In Virginia, only two theaters — Kiln Creek Cinema Stadium 20 in Newport News and Strawbridge Marketplace Stadium 12 in Virginia Beach — will be airing this special event.  Guess it’s time for a trip to the Hampton Roads area.