Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prequel to Prisoner Review

This is a confession of sorts. My daughter Helene loves Ice Age. She watches it repeatedly, ad infinitum, without any indication of ever tiring. All of this is fine, a whim that most parents indulge, but the problem is that she hasn't really seen Ice Age...well, not completely.
What she has seen is our abridged, edited version. If you're familiar with the movie, there is a scene where the saber-toothed tigers attack the village, and the mother flees with the baby, eventually sacrificing herself for the baby. This scene, which is a critical plot point that illuminates one of the main characters, is conveniently, repeatedly, ad infinitum, without hesitation omitted. As parents, we have decided that it is too much, that she doesn't need to know yet that parents can, and eventually will, die. So whenever we get to that scene, we skip to a more appropriate part.
I could easily hide behind the shield of trying to be a good father, one that protects his child from the hard facts of the world until the little one is ready to handle them. That's the easy way. The difficult path begins by acknowledging the fact of what I'm doing, censoring, which is something I would never do in any other circumstance, something that I loathe on a deep, personal level. But for some reason, as a parent, I will.
There is another confession here. The other night when Martha was in class, Helene was watching her perennial favorite while I was answering work email, and I forgot to skip the scene. The only reason I knew this was because she grew extremely quiet, which is an obvious tell that something is up. When I noticed the silence, I looked at her and saw that she was completely focused on what was on the screen. I then looked up and noticed the village being attacked and quickly forwarded the film...but it was too late. Helene knew something was askew, something I had done had altered the film. She knew that there was information missing and that there was something else to the world of the film that I, her father, was hiding. The proverbial gig was proverbially up.
So now every time we watch the film, she wants to see more, trying to trick us up into not fast-forwarding the film, and now asks tough questions that I have to dance around. She's getting older and making more connections, like where is the mother that was at the beginning of the story, is she ok? All this forces me to ask my own tough questions: What is the role of those in power? In the original Prisoner, there is the metaphor POP, which can be interpreted in two ways: Protect Other People or Power Over People. When do the lines between those two blur over? Where are the distinctions?
There is a final confession: It doesn't bother me that I don't know the answer to these questions; it bothers me that I might have stopped asking...