January 2, 2006

Watch This Movie, Or The Kid Gets It

The kid had a slumber party with her aunt and her grandma, so we went to see a movie--Syriana, aka Traffic-but-with-oil--and it pretty much freaked us out.[1] It wasn't the whole thing about oil companies and their friends in Washington manipulating US intelligence activities to ensure continued access to Mid-East oil; if anything, it was a relief to finally see that story getting some coverage.

No, it was the obvious impending doom for a child that did it. Combined with the trailers and the off-screen hegemony of the Celebrity Parent Industrial Complex, it was the parental equivalent of having your fingernails pulled out. [Or at least it was like watching having your fingernails pulled out, which was also part of the night's entertainment.]

It's as if all the fridges in Hollywood have the same starter set of plot magnets that reads: "child", "suffers", "dies", "then", "alone", "parents", and "fault", and "powerless".

One trailer was for Pulse, a horror flick where Assorted Children Away At College are pursued by the undead in their computers and electrical appliances. [OK, that one just sounds like someone took acid in his dorm, or a clueless studio exec heard a mention of Ghost In The Machine in a pitch and said, "Brilliant!, let's do that."]

But then there was Firewall, where Park Slope Poster Dad Paul Bettany plays Sadistic Hacker/Thief who takes Harrison Ford's Bank Exec's family hostage for days, forcing him to help rob his own bank. Think Patriot Games-meets-Swordfish [but without John Travolta or Halle Berry's rack].

And then came Freedomland, directed by Joe Roth [ex-Disney studio chief] and written by Richard Price [ex-public housing junkie novelist], in which Freaked Out Single Mom [and West Village Poster Mom Julianne Moore] blames Poor Black Carjacker after Innocent White Child goes missing in the night.

And then there was one about a dad whose kid toddles off in a single unattended instant and drowns in his in-laws' lap pool during a Christmas visit. Oh wait, that must've already come out, because it was playing non-stop in my head for the last six weeks.

Previously: TV No Likee The Children

[1] don't get me wrong, it was a pretty good movie, and I've been a wonky, DVD-extra-watching fan of the writer/director Stephen Gaghan since Traffic. I'm just saying.

2 Comments

I had the same reaction when we snuck out to see Syriana last week! I couldn't watch the swimming pool scene... couldn't get it out of my head for days.

It's pure exploitation, and I refuse to pay money to watch children bite it. That's also why I won't watch any network news, or read major newspapers: they always lead w/ the story of some child being hurt, killed, molested, etc. I'm a big girl--I know it happens. I accept it. I just don't wish to endorse the practice of profiting from it!

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