A Lapse in Judgement
As much as I prefer to attribute my development as a person to agency, I’ve found that the opposite is usually responsible. The decisions that were made for me sometimes had a greater affect. But instead of talking about the more serious implications, I’m taking this time to reflect upon a few films that have stuck with me over the years. Films that for some reason I was allowed to watch, that were a result of a lapse in judgement among various parental figures.
I was prompted to explore this idea further because of Quora question about disturbing children’s films. What I find intriguing about this topic is the lack of foresight on the people responsible for creating children’s movies. It generally isn’t intentional, it’s accidental. One aspect in particular that’s difficult to regulate is atmosphere. Films generally aren’t rated by atmosphere as it’s not something made clear quickly. The atmosphere of a film gradually unfolds.
In regards to this, the 1978 version of Pinocchio comes to mind. As if the Disney version wasn’t enough to unsettle children with the human/donkey trafficking aspect and the blatant abrahamic belief system, this version takes it a step further. There is something unmistakably eerie about it. The realistic design, foreboding music, and creepy side characters create one of the strangest and scariest versions of Pinocchio. The puppet himself is androgynously dressed and voiced, which as a child was also considerably unsettling. And my question to my parents, and other parents, is why would you allow your children to watch this? The answer is probably because they simply didn’t know.
Another film that affected me significantly, and was obviously not meant for children was David Cronenberg’s Fly remake. Having only seen it in its entirety barely one time, I’m uncertain of what age anyone is ready to see this one. Around the 5th grade, perhaps less, I was sleeping over at a friend’s house and we were browsing through movies to watch on TV. His mom was giving us suggestions, and one of them was The Fly. We were of course intrigued. A guy turns into a fly, what could go wrong? What followed was far beyond wrong.
The Fly is one of the most emotionally devastating films, paired with vile imagery. In my body horror excursions, most pale in comparison to this. Watching a man deteriorate mentally and physically, is difficult, to put it mildly. But encountering this film experience at such a young age elicited a much more heightened reaction. I was absolutely terrified, and to this day still am. And once again I ask, why would you allow children to watch this?
Luckily, I don’t think that many parents made this mistake, we were simply unfortunate victims. Without the formative experience of seeing that film at such a young age, I likely wouldn't have developed as strong of an interest and appreciation of body horror.
What other significant turns in my life have been unintentional?