So, Frozen is my 5 year old daughter's first full length animated movie. It still makes her excited, even after > 10 viewings (counting home and school), and possibly > 100 plays of "Let it go".
The only downside, is the fact that I have to counsel her on two counts: that Hans REALLY is the bad guy, and that Anna did not really die. ("Phew!")
As the festive holiday comes, and I think about what other cartoon movie I might want to screen at home, I read a clever article published in this Christmas edition of BMJ, aptly titled: "CARTOONS KILL: casualties in animated recreational theater in an objective observational new study of kids’ introduction to loss of life"
In this study, the authors gleefully reviewed on their own TV screens, 45 top grossing children's animated movies, with a comparison group of 90 top grossing adult movies (Fabulous methodology). The primary outcome was the elapsed time of film on which the first on screen death of an important character occurred. For secondary outcomes, authors note two contextual factors which could be particularly traumatic for children: instances when the first on screen death was a murder, and instances when the first on screen death was of a parent of a main character. Data was collected by trained research assistants with a standardised coding protocol, and a panel of film critics (amateur) resolved ambiguous or unclear events by consensus.
What were the results? Interestingly, the risk of on screen death of important characters was higher in children's animated movies than in comparison adult film (hazard ratio 2.5, 95% CI 1.3 to 4.9). The risk of on screen murder of important characters was also higher in children's animation (hazard ratio 2.78, 95% CI 1.02 to 7.58).
The authors conclude:
- Important characters in children’s animated films die more quickly than important characters in dramatic films aimed at adults
- Children who watch animated films are often exposed to scenes of murder
- Children who watch animated films are not spared gruesome causes of death such as gunshots, stabbings, and animal attacks
There already is too much death and violence in western TV, and children watch too much TV anyway. Better think twice before the next Disney cartoon movie; maybe I should bring the kids instead to Disney on Ice.
For the adults, I recommend "The Grand Budapest Hotel". It is really good.