Let's face it: TV and movies raised us.
So when we talk about the lessons Hollywood teaches kids, don't tell us it's all harmless fantasy. For a generation with one parent in jail and the other passed out drunk at work, the lessons from movies were all we had. And as you'll see, most of them were bullshit.
6Your Single Parent is Really Just Waiting for You to Set Him or Her Up!
As Seen In:
Sleepless in Seattle, The Parent Trap, Kindergarden Cop, The Mighty Ducks
There are about 25 million kids in single-parent households in the US alone, and a whole lot of them would like one of those cool dual-parent deals their friends have. Hollywood knows this.
That's why they love to show kids scenarios where they help their parents find romance (just ask the young Lindsay Lohan in the Parent Trap remake!). Hey, look, the new handsome kindergarten teacher just happens to be the ideal match for your spinster mother, and he's a former body builder to boot! The world is magical!
This one has a corollary, which is, "Your step-parents are always jerks who just want to spoil your fun.
In the Real World:
So the movies convince these kids they know everything they need to know to be terrific matchmakers. Now, how exactly how can we expect people who still think girls have cooties to understand the rules of dating? They don't even understand the fundamentals, like the importance of boobies.
What kids need to learn is that even though the lunch lady may seem cool because she gave you two churros, your dad is more likely to be concerned about her harelip than her mashed potatoes.
And no, it's not a good idea to try to reunite your parents by setting them up on an elaborately conceived "coincidental" meeting while you keep your evil stepmom occupied with childish pranks. If movies worked like the real world, we'd have had nothing but two hours of Lindsay Lohan crying off the pain of being flogged like a redheaded stepchild. Literally.
5The Creepy Recluse is Actually the Nicest Person on the Block
As Seen In:
The Sandlot, Big Fish, To Kill a Mockingbird, Star Wars, Home Alone, Toy Story
The scary old lady in the old house, who's rumored to be a witch? She's really just a lonely, misunderstood old woman who just needs someone to talk to. The filthy, scary guy? The one rumored to be a serial killer? Just an eccentric. Why, getting to know either one of these folks could give you brand new insights that will help you mature and grow!
This one also has a corollary, which is, "The mythical junkyard monster is actually a big friendly dog."
In the Real World:
It's obvious that this theme is an attempt to teach kids not to judge a book by its cover. And that's great, but the problem is that sometimes the cover contains valuable information.
Looks (and is) crazy.
In the real world, kids should not talk to the scary man with the moustache, the eyebrows that connect and the windowless van. He did not offer you that candy bar because he is a former baseball star looking to regale you with tales of pitching against Babe Ruth.
And for that matter, in the real world, "Beware of Dog" signs aren't warning you that you'll be covered with Saint Bernard slobber while trying to recover your baseball. It means the dog's owner is tired of getting every time his dog bites off a toddler's arm.
In movies, investigating the scary places always works out for kids. And sure, we should reward bravery, open-mindedness and curiosity. But Hollywood might mention that visiting the creep who walks around in a clown suit sometimes just wins you the chance to appear on a milk carton.