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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Musicals -- is the content kid friendly?

So, what I want to know is this: does anyone else feel conflicted about exposing their kids to musicals?

We just saw a wonderful local performance of Oklahoma!

Among the subjects that I found problematic were: promiscuity, suicide, violence, etc.

Compared to many other musicals, Oklahoma is downright wholesome!

I love taking my kids to musicals. I love the theatre and I love the songs. And I love the way my kids spend the following days bursting out in spontaneous song.

But I would not want my kids to watch movies or read books that treat this subject matter as legitimate.

So why should it be okay in a musical?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Rahel Jaskow said...

I was in a production of "Oklahoma!" many years ago -- in middle school. Something escaped me then: that Curly, the main character, really isn't that nice a guy after all. He encourages Judd Fry, his rival in love, to commit suicide! Granted, Judd is a highly questionable character, possibly already a murderer -- but that doesn't make it right.

adena said...

Now that I'm a mom, so many things seem more troublesome than they used to! Bible stories...books I used to love...movies I used to love...TV shows...etc. It leads to many interesting conversations with my son who doesn't miss A THING...lots of fodder for the blog :-)

adena said...

Just thought of one more: Grease! Even as a teen, I wondered: how is it a good thing, that Sandy ends up giving in and becoming one of the group instead of being herself? Isn't this a bad message? Yet it's such a popular show...

toby said...

I also have a hard time with this - and the hardest one for me (too) is Grease! That was my very favorite movie in fourth grade - my friends and I knew the whole movie by heart and watched it over and over - this was at the very beginning of the VCR era :) I saw it recently and grabbed it so that my kids could partake, and it was so embarrassing! I have to assume that they enjoyed it without fully understanding it, as I seemingly did when I was young - but to say that I am conflicted is an understatement!

tafka pp said...

We're just having this exact discussion in my office!

I saw it last week too, with a friend (wanted to support my friends involved) and I thought it was great! But, I also noticed those themes, PLUS the running anti-feminist tone... I'd not even seen the film as a child, so you can imagine how I reacted to Ado Annie's first song!!

Anonymous said...

I also saw Oklahoma a few years ago, after many years. I was really disappointed and appalled - I would have walked out had I not been taken my MIL. I think I will stick to Guys and Dolls, Babes in Arms, Pyjama Game, and others of that ilk.

Anonymous said...

I don't think musicals are any different from movies.

I rented "Back to the Future" to see with my kids a few years ago and was horrified to see that there was an attempted rape scene.


Rahel Jaskow said...

Yes -- I'd forgotten about "Grease." Mad Magazine got it right in its satire of the film, in which Sandy's last line goes something like this: "Of course! In order to fit in, you have to become a slut! What a great message to pass on to the youth of America!"

Rahel Jaskow said...

If I may add one more comment: I'd forgotten about "Pippin." The end of that musical always moved me (skip this if you'd rather not know how it turns out, though the show is well over 30 years old by now): Pippin, a young man fresh out of university, has spent the whole show trying to live an extraordinary life. By the end, he has tried everything, but without success. He feels that he has failed and that life has nothing more to offer him. Yet at that point, when he is given the opportunity to die a spectacular death, he rejects it and chooses life, as ordinary and uncertain as it is.

(Incidentally, when my high school put on the musical, one of the parents, who was rather narrow-minded, wrote a letter to the local newspaper in protest, saying that the musical should be banned because it glorified suicide. We were shocked and then amused at how completely she missed the point, and spent the next year -- and the next production, a slightly raunchy musical version of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" -- poking fun at her. Not very nice, I admit -- but we were high-school students, after all, and we were delighted at having gotten the better of a grownup.)

Karen said...

I think it depends on the age of the kid. I certainly keep things from my children until later ages than my parents kept them from me (I wasn't raised religious, and my parents had a very liberal attitude about what I was allowed to see. I turned out OK anyway!) But once they hit adolescence, if a piece of art has redeeming qualities, I think it's better to let them experience it and discuss these issues, than to expect them to watch "Dumbo" for their entire lives. In an extreme manifestation of this philosophy, I took my oldest son (a VERY mature almost 14) to see "Rent" last night. My decision was influenced by the fact that one of the stars is virtually a member of our family, but beyond that, it is an incredible piece of theater, and raises profound questions on many levels. So two guys kiss. We talked about that, about what the Torah says about it but also about the distinction between people and their actions -- the Torah talks about acts, not about people -- and about my philosophy that Hashem is the true judge and if he needs my help passing judgment on people He'll let me know. (And then you can lock me away. :) But I couldn't have had this conversation with a younger child, so a younger child wouldn't have seen the show. (My younger ones had no desire to see it anyway.)