Sunday, February 10, 2013

Are Cartoons Just Child's Play?

Are Cartoons Just Child’s Play?


            Cartoons are for children. They’re just a way to occupy a child for a time and keep them out of parents way while the parents are busy. There’s nothing important was special about them. . . Or is there more to a good cartoon?
            I recently purchased Peter Pan. It was a childhood favorite of mine and I enjoyed sharing it with my daughter when she was little. The fanciful thought of never growing up and always playing appealed to me even as a child. The idea of flying on to Neverland tickled my sense of fancy (in fact it still does). But is there more to learn from this whimsical story? I believe there is!
            The movie is called Peter Pan but who is the story really about? Is about a young boy refusing to grow up? Could it be about a little girl on cusp of becoming a young woman? Or could it be about a crotchety man who’s chosen to live in anger and frustration, making a fool of himself?
            What can we learn from Peter Pan? Peter is self-absorbed, impulsive and immature. He chooses to stay emotionally stunted. He does not really want to take responsibility for anything but controlling the Lost Boys. He does not want to be responsible for his actions. Even with all these negatives there is not a true “bad bone” in his body. He has no intention of hurting anyone. From Peter Pan we can learn that there are consequences to our actions. Though it may seem like fun to be irresponsible and never grow up you see you lose out so much. You see that Peter is actually very lonely and deep in his heart wants structure and a mother’s love.
            Wendy is a different story. From the very beginning she’s a picture of responsibility. Although Nana, the dog is the children’s “nursemaid” it is Wendy that actually cares for the boys. When she is brought to Neverland she continues her “mothering” of the boys and includes the Loss Boys as part of her responsibility. She is part mother/part wife in a child’s play sort of way to Peter Pan. In the end she chooses to grow up but yet still enjoy the whimsy of childhood.
            Hook is a different story entirely. He is an adult trapped in a child’s world by his own selfish and childish behavior. He is paralleled in the “real world” by Father. All bluster and hurt feelings he has chosen to hang onto the hurts. Hook is so focused on revenge he loses sight of the joy of life and true success. He loses sight of the friendship of the ever faithful Smee. He neglects his responsibility to his crew.
            Even all the boys, the Lost Boys, Michael and John show us choices we have to make. The Loss Boys have chosen to live like Peter and not grow up, yet they miss their mother. Even missing their mothers they still choose to continue to live this way. Michael and John on the other hand choose to go home with Wendy and grow up when the time comes.
            Overall I think this wonderful and whimsical story reminds me that life is a balance. In the end, like Father seeing the ship sailing away in the clouds and softening his heart we need to remember to hold onto childlike whimsy and faith still grow up. Also I hearkened to Peter Pan’s immortal words, “All it takes is a little faith, trust and just a little pixie dust.” It reminds me that with faith in God, trust in God and those He puts in my life along with the “pixie dust” of His many wondrous blessings I can succeed at anything.
            So are cartoons just child’s play? I think not. I think they are wondrous tools to entertain and educate our young and teach them morals and life lessons. I believe cartoons are a wonderful way for us jaded adults to be reminded to take time to laugh, play and remember the lessons of our childhood. It is all too easy to forget to be kind and hang onto hurts of the past turning us into Capt. Hook. Becoming Hook we lose focus on the good and end up with goals they keep us tied to port instead of sailing the seven seas enjoying life.
            So for me I will be part Peter Pan and part Wendy. I will never lose the desire for childlike play and hopefulness yet I have made the choice to grow up and take responsibility. I have chosen to reject becoming Capt. Hook. I will not live for revenge or stay stuck in hurts of the past.

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