The "TV Isn't Bad" Issue

Dear Parkette Pals,

The dog days of summer have come and gone, and we sincerely hope you were able to enjoy them.  Perhaps that was by immersing yourself in the lake as you sought shelter from the humidity, or maybe you basked in the sun with a heavy book in your hands and a cold drink by your side. Hopefully, it was both.

But now, as we prepare to bid farewell to summer and the joy that comes along with it, we look ahead to Fall and the gifts it will bring.

Cozier days and earlier nights, brisk walks, the look and smell of the trees as they lose their leaves. And of course, spending time indoors – some days brightened by the glow of a candle, and others by the twinkle of the television. Which brings us to this week’s take on the age-old question: What to Watch with our Kids.

Sometimes it feels like Paw Patrol and Barbie are inescapable. And we’re not suggesting we shame kids out of watching the things that they like.
But it’s our loss if we underestimate our children and their capacity to appreciate more profound works. After all, age is just a number.

Animation as Art

In an article published in Time Magazine about the impact of Hayao Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" on the world of animation, Dr. Susan Napier, professor at Tufts University and author of “Miyazakiworld: A Life in Art” recalls that:

“for so long, cartoons have been seen in the West - America in particular - as kind of childish, vulgar things that you didn’t take seriously”. 

Although this isn’t a view as widely held as it used to be, we, as grownups, sometimes forget that animation can be a gateway to beautiful, profound experiences, and that great art, no matter the medium, will have something to say to everyone, at every age. It can make us laugh, cry and think, sometimes all at once!

But is it Age Appropriate?

Some animated works are purposefully geared towards the youngest and can be wonderful entry-points to the joys of animation (without annoying all of us grown-ups who are asked to watch along). This can be a great place to start. 

If you do decide to start further along with movies thought to be too sad or scary, you may find that sometimes kids will surprise us. And don’t fret - if something hasn’t landed quite as we had expected, simply change course and revisit a movie or show a few years down the road. 

TIP: We each have our own temperament and personality. So, before you press play, read reviews or articles about a film or series to get a sense of what to expect. We use Common Sense Media for both the kid and the adult perspectives. 

Looking for ideas? Here’s a little roundup of articles that explore some great animation in more detail:

Tim Jones on "Hey Duggee" for The Guardian;

Kathryn VanArendonk for New York Magazine on 'How "Bluey" Became the Best Kids' Show of our Time';

Carlos Aguilar on how "City of Ghosts" created an inclusive ode to LA's Past, also for New York Magazine;

Mark O'Connell on Cartoon Saloon and the new golden age of animation for The New Yorker;

Wired on 'Why "Gravity Falls" is the Smartest Cartoon on Television';

- And for a deep-dive with the master of animation: Karen Han on "Ten Years with Hayao Miyazaki", the 4-hour documentary that unravels Miyazaki's obsessions (and is free to watch online!).

*A note about our featured illustrationthis issue of the newsletter was illustrated by Maia Judith specially for Parkette. You may remember her from our last issue ;) Maia Judith is an illustrator living and working from her house in the countryside of Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is inspired by tenderness and mundane rituals. When she's not drawing, she likes to work on her vegetable garden and eat home-made gnocchi. If you'd like to see more original artwork here, please share the newsletter with your friends and keep opening our emails 💘

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