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Children's films 'losing their innocence in a bid to please parents'


Aislinn Simpson

Telegraph (UK)

July 13, 2008

Mainstream children's films are losing their sense of "innocence and wonderment" because they are filled with in-jokes aimed at adults, an award-winning film director has warned.

Gurinder Chadha, who directed 2002's Bend It Like Beckham, believes more films should be made specifically for children with less focus on pleasing their parents. She singled out Hollywood giant Disney as the main offender, saying it was trying to please too many age groups.

Her criticism follows accusations by US psychologists that Disney was making toddlers grow up too fast by exposing children as young as three to teenage concepts such as love and revenge.

Jean Twenge, a social psychologist at San Diego State University, said that if the trend toward marketing such concepts to children continued, adolescence could soon start at age five.

"One of the head guys at Disney categorically said to me, 'We don't want to make children's films any more. We want to make films that are going to appeal to all quadrants'," Chadha said. "Hence you have films like Shrekfilms like Shrek and all the Pixar stuff, which is designed to suit everybody."

While it may make financial sense, she said, it is to the detriment of children: "They probably lose the innocence and the wonderment. Because, for adults, the gags have to be knowing. Children kind of get them because they live in this celebrity world, but there is a lost sense of innocence."

Chadha, 47, is currently promoting her latest film, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, the first in the bestselling teenage novel series from the author Louise Rennison and due to be released on July 25.

But she said her next film will be about a British child on an adventure in India, packed with friendly animals to boost its appeal to children. It is inspired by her favourite film when she was a child, Disney's little-known Pablo and the Dancing Chihuahua, which features a boy travelling around Mexico with his dog.

"I was transported to Mexico and to the desert, to this happy little dog and to this boy trying to go on an adventure," she said.

"Now that was a proper kids film. "Unfortunately I don't think people want to make those kinds of films any more - which is why I'm going to do one next."





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