For a long time now, I’ve disparaged families who are so negligent as to “use the TV as a babysitter.” I had my reasons:
* TV are stuupid. Television is designed to pitch to the widest possible audience. In part, this is usually accomplished by also pitching to the lowest common denominator. This means that most television, even movies is noticeably lacking in any kind of content which might require an attention span. But people only mature and become capable of working with more complex information by being regularly exposed to stuff that is beyond what they’re actually used to. You don’t improve in anything unless you have to struggle a bit. Since TV constantly pitches low, a regular diet of television makes you dumb.
* TV are annoying. Young children are geared toward repetition and memorization. Which means that, even if you find a way to expose your kids only to “smart TV,” they’re going to want to be watching it a great deal more than an adult is quite prepared to tolerate. I don’t care how much better than the standard fare Thomas the Tank Engine is. It’s not good enough for me to have to memorize it. And I don’t know that I want my kids memorizing it either. OK. Maybe Veggie Tales songs. But I have limits.
Unfortunately, ideals are all wonderful until you encounter real life, in which a child requires a great deal of stimulation. In particular, my child, from as young as 3 weeks, needed something to be going on *all the time* or he became terribly bored. And since, he was essentially immobile without assistance, bored means crying. And both of us, I’ve discovered, are awfully quite people. There’s not a lot that goes on in our house that could be described as visually interesting. We talk; we read; we type. I think we have a fascinating and intellectually stimulating family culture. But to a person who hasn’t worked out the mechanics of speech yet, let alone reading, well it’s agonizing.
Valerie has coped with this by being a mom. I am constantly amazed at her ability to play with David, talk to him, repeat the same baby games until he screams in laughter. Me – I have a limit of about 5-6 repetitions before I tire out. Occasionally I get him to smile.
But now… I’m staying home and looking for work online whilst my dearest is working part time. So 10 to 15 hours a week right now, it’s me and the babe. And not only am I lousy at entertaining him, I’ve got some other work that is really kind of important. I’ve got to give him something.
Well, I think I’ve hit on it. He needs something abrupt and entertaining. Colorful, but not stupid. I need something that I won’t mind if it gets stuck in both of our heads, but at the same time won’t interrupt me from my work (unlike blogging). What I need is high quality TV without words.
Bingo. Fantasia. As I type I hear peals of laughter at uh… dancing mushrooms.
And for the record: as good as Fantasia 2000 is, it’s just not nearly as good as the original. The original movie had something that no sequel afterward will ever have: W. Disney. That movie has his personality all over it. It is at once more reticent and bolder than any modern movie being made.