In the last edition of the Voice, I felt personally berated by contributor Dan Grantham for what he claimed was my inability to branch out from my childhood interests. Speaking as someone who not only has had the same favorite book for the past ten years but also as a great lover of Disney films, I was deeply disturbed by Grantham’s condescending observations.
It is completely unfair to generalize college students who still love “Harry Potter” and children’s movies as being unable to appreciate more “sophisticated” films or books. Since coming to college, my own interests have expanded tenfold. I have always loved reading and each year I discover new authors that I enjoy deeply.
That being said, every other year, I still pull out “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter” and give them a good read-through. And somehow this renders me immature? Absolutely not, and I’ll tell you why: the way I read these books has evolved since I read them as a kid.
Take ‘‘Lord of the Rings.” I still love the fantasy elements in this series, but, after having taken several classes about Medieval history, I appreciate their complexity and the absolute genius of Tolkien even more. Following that line of thinking, Disney films and other fantasy-related I.S.s are so much more than just “waxing poetic about their profound nature.” As a cornerstone of popular literature and culture, they warrant academic analysis. Moreover, the basis of Grantham’s argument is completely fictional. The people that he attacks don’t actually exist on campus. In my four years here, I have yet to meet anyone who has wall-papered her or his room in Disney memorabilia even though I have met numerous avid Disney fans (myself included).
Obviously, Grantham uses this scenario facetiously, but in doing so, he fails to establish its applicability to his argument. Furthermore, his reasons for avoiding said scenario are badly argued. Peer disapproval alone is a poor rationale for not doing something. Lastly, Grantham suggests that Disney lovers should move on to watching PG-13 and R rated movies because, for reasons I can’t quite comprehend, a stricter rating some how makes a film more valuable.
Finally, the supposed simplicity of a book or movie shouldn’t affect what you are able to get out of it. Like so many things in life, what you put into something is what you’ll ultimately take away. So many children’s novels have wonderful elements that don’t stop being relevant just because one has turned 18. Friendship, love, loyalty, courage…these might seem asinine as Grantham pointed out, but without them, the world would be a dark place indeed.
There are so many worse things you can be in your life than childish and in some ways, it’s one of the best things you can be. As C.S. Lewis once said, “When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”