6 Horrible Lessons Hollywood Loves to Teach Kids


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.

Your 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.

So important.

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.

The 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.

Dares Are Serious Business!

As Seen In:

A Christmas Story, How To Eat Fried Worms, Back to the Future

In movie land, a kid who doesn't live up to a dare is ostracized from the kid community forever. A dare is like a contract. One he never signed, and had never agreed to prior to being told he had to live up to it. But God help the kid who backs down!

In the Real World:

The best possible outcome of taking a dare is winning the adulation of a bunch of people not known for their long memories. If they do somehow remember it, you won't go down as the tough kid who had the courage to meet the ultimate dare. You'll just be remembered as that weirdo who, under mild peer pressure, once ate a dog turd.

(It's just a melted Snickers bar.)

Kids don't exactly have good judgment anyway (another reason they're not allowed to run for office) but having Hollywood depict the guy who eats a handful of earthworms as some kind of schoolwide hero is not going to help the situation.

Of course dares are just lazy devices for screenwriters to get a kid in a ridiculous situation. Sure, they'd like to teach kids to stand up to a crowd of dumbasses, but then how are they supposed to get the main character's head stuck in a toilet? They can either give him a near-psychotic aversion to being called chicken or rewrite the character to be functionally retarded. So, yeah, basically one option.

A One-Speed Bike You Can Take Anywhere!

As Seen In:

Dennis The Menace, The Goonies, ET

In the course of one adventurous day, a squad of movie kids will visit the water tower, the junkyard, the school, their house and the lake, all on their one-speed Huffy. And they still have the energy to get up to a variety of wacky hijinks upon arrival! What's this shit about today's kids being lazy and obese?

Hell, in The Goonies the kids bike from their house all the way to the abandoned restaurant in a single thirty second montage. Even the fat kid.

In the Real World:

Eighty percent of the reason being a kid sucks is you can't drive. You can't just zoom across town whenever you feel like it, you've got to wait for Mom or Dad to get home, or save up your allowance for cab fare, or latch onto the back of a garbage truck. Your ability to participate in adult-level adventures is thus severely limited.

To smooth over this depressing fact, Hollywood gives kids Lance Armstrong-esque biking abilities. In reality, the Goonies kids would wind up getting to the shore well after dark, too winded to even walk and having lost their hilarious fat buddy Chunk to a heart attack on that last hill climb.

Taking the pro-bike propaganda a step further, kids movies often paint kids who aren't riding a bike as insanely hostile toward anyone caught pedaling. In both The Goonies and The Karate Kid main characters are pushed off a cliff for daring to be on something not propelled by a motor. According to Hollywood, your Huffy isn't just a magical teleportation device, it's a choice in the battle between good and evil.

Bad Guys Are Slower, Clumsier and Dumber Than Kids

As Seen In:

Home Alone, Pokemon, Scooby Doo, Loony Tunes, The Goonies

Wile E. Coyote made millions for Warner Brothers by driving home the fact that even with superior technology and elaborate planning, no one will ever catch the good guys, because the bad guys will always forget the little details. Like the giant fucking mountain in the way of the rocket.

There is a whole genre of kid adventure movies that drive home the same point, that the bad guys who're after you will always make some stupid mistake or, most importantly, underestimate you. They can't hope to match the smarts and sheer moxie of a fast, clever kid!

In the Real World:

This is one Hollywood lesson that's legitimately dangerous. Real crooks show up pissed off, desperate and with weapons. And, even strung out on meth, they're not stupid enough to be foiled by quickly scampering under coffee tables (even crackheads are known to negotiate simple obstacles). The real world has a term for kids who try to use Micro Machines to outsmart bad guys during a robbery: missing and presumed dead.

And don't get us started on Scooby-Doo. When a criminal goes to enough trouble to fake their own death so that they can use an elaborate system of projected lights and bed sheets to convince the entire town that the bank is haunted while they rob it, they fucking mean business. Don't show up with your stoned friends to try to stop them, call in a SWAT Team.

The School Bully is Abused at Home, So It's Not His Fault

As Seen In:

Breakfast Club, Harry Potter, How to Eat Fried Worms, Countless others

It always goes the same way: the troupe of good kids spends half the story dealing with some big bad bullies who rule the school. But eventually they meet the bully's drunk redneck dad and everybody suddenly understands why the bully is such a dick.

"I hate my father!"

Then in the spirit of goodwill, the bully becomes good and they all band together and defeat the real evil in the world, Grown Ups! It's a seductive way of thinking for anyone who's ever been a victim of bullying. I'm in this locker, smelling some fat kid's sweat socks because the bully hates his parents!

That way you can rationalize the bad treatment without having to admit that you're 1) just physically weaker and 2) an insufferable nerd. That might mean giving up things that you enjoy, like wearing T-Shirts that express your opinion on the Greedo Shot First controversy.

In the Real World:

The real lesson to learn is that sometimes people are just cruel, and sometimes the cruel people are way more powerful than you. The bully doesn't have to have a mean family member that sits atop the jerk food chain, dishing out verbal abuse that trickles down onto your sorry ass. Sometimes a bully's just a spoiled rich kid who never experienced a minute of hardship. And often, the bully will go on to great success and continue to bully people as an adult, from inside a huge mansion.

Up top.

Just look at the way Ken Lay stole all the lunch money from a multinational corporation and died on a beach in the Caribbean surrounded by women in bikinis. In the real world, the bully wins.

If we haven't totally ruined your favorite childhood movies yet, allow us to finish the job with 8 Classic Movies That Got Away With Gaping Plot Holes and The 6 Most Depressing Happy Endings in Movie History. There, that oughta do it.

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