Sunday, November 28, 2004

Rolling Your R’s

I’ve never raised a child and I was a dreadful teacher so I’m a lousy judge of what teenagers can and cannot understand. Heck, I obviously have trouble figuring out what adults can understand. Even so, when I see a movie like Kinsey, which raises a host of serious questions in a lively way and presents history in a slightly more accurate fashion than, say, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, I find myself wondering if the way we censor movies for adolescents aren’t fundamentally wrongheaded. We make some effort to prevent kids from being exposed to brutal or pornographic images, but we don’t worry that they are missing something if they don’t experience art that challenges their assumptions and obliges them to think. For example, though I have no desire to return to the retail philosophy business, I’d love to teach just one section of 101 on the topic of creativity and morality, but based on the documentary Crumb instead of the usual Ion. I expect that the alarming cartoonist would make a better example of the menace of poetry than the harmless rhapsodist of the dialogue. I don’t know if 18 year olds are up to getting beyond a case of the giggles—in fact I expect that the problem would more likely be seriously offended young women—but I’m dead certain that the Plato would come across as a snoozer.

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