I saw this headline in the Daily Mail this week Channel 5 slammed for airing Watership Down on Easter Sunday
And was immediately transported back to my childhood, and how I cried calling upstairs to my Mum over the music alone (which for many years would make me cry). I read the article and saw the images from the film (thankfully long forgotten). This is the least grisly of the pics in the article:
What can I say? To be reminded of this film brought tears to my eyes, and I felt sorry for little me as a child who watched it. I would have been seven years old when it came out in 1978, and I don’t know what age I was when it was shown on the TV. I was left alone to watch it, as I was with so much else in those days that I shouldn’t have seen, because TV wasn’t regulated then like it is today. The censor has come out and said that today Watership Down would have been a PG rated film, and not a U: Watership Down would be a PG if it were released today says chief censor
A lot of commenters said that parents were bringing up a generation of namby-pamby kids by saying this film is too traumatic for their age-group. I wonder how they would feel about the ‘blooding’ ritual that some girls from my private school when through when they first went fox-hunting? Today we would say that was barbaric!
So I just want to leave you with a few points which I hope will help you in preventing childhood trauma!
I would have liked my parents to have watched this first to decide if it was suitable for me – that is a good idea, or watch it with the child to explain, or even to stop the film. Kids take things in, and often won’t ask a parent afterwards about something unpleasant they’ve seen, but will think about it and worry about it in silence. We know as adults that this isn’t necessarily rational, but how many children have gone on from a parental break-up only to blame themselves for it? That isn’t rational either, but childhood is where you find out about the world, and it’s formative.
Ask yourself if your child is especially impressionable or empathic. If they are, then films like this which can be upsetting and are entertainment only (not educational) should be avoided, in my view. Empathy is the state of being able to feel the pain of others. It’s the reason I used to avoid programmes like Animal Hospital – they would have me in tears in minutes! I don’t even watch TV anymore (but not for that reason).
Is it educational? If it is, that’s different – you shouldn’t protect your child from the real world, and from factual information, but be sure it is helpful, and if it’s going to be nasty in any way, be there, and don’t leave them alone to watch it. Talk them through what they are seeing, so they understand it.
It is amazing the impression these thing can have on children – parents need to have a conversation about trauma prevention. I know that I would never have allowed any child to watch that film after the pain I felt watching it.
Finally, it’s worth noting that almost every Disney film that I (thankfully) avoided as a child is full of just these kinds of traumas. I have never seen Bambi, thankfully, but there’s a scene in there we’ve all heard about, where Bambi’s mother get’s killed.
This cannot be there for educational purposes – let’s face it, the film has talking animals in it?
Some have even postulated that these kinds of cartoon films with these kinds of traumas in have been designed to traumatise children. I can’t imagine why anyone would release a film that would do that, but I do know I’m not alone in feeling upset at the thought of that scene in Bambi.
I’m not, of course, saying that all childhood trauma can be prevented, but that which comes from entertainment should be limited as far as possible, in my view. The real world is bad enough, without drama and over-emotionality being wrung from us by scenes like these. How does that help anyone?
So let’s take steps to assess kids correctly before simply allowing the TV to act as child-minder.
Have a great weekend!
Lis Goodwin, your voice coach