“Stop complaining. It’s just for kids.”

This is the worst argument I have ever heard in support of a terrible piece of art. Why would anyone think it was valid to excuse terrible television or filmmaking just because the target audience is children?

This specific argument came up in reaction to one of my diatribes on the Star Wars prequels. You know-the movies where robots were made to be clumsy and funny? Yeah, those.  Because that is EXACTLY how I would design my robot servants if I was a militaristic empire bent on galactic conquest: thousands of little stooges bumping into each other and making funny little sounds when they have an oopsies.

I will acknowledge that I tend to passionately examine and talk about the art I encounter, and sometimes, people just want to enjoy a movie without hearing a blowhard go on and on about how it could be better. But defending the awful plot holes and terrible character treatments in the Star Wars prequels by saying that they were “written for kids” is insulting. Kids deserve quality filmmaking, even if they can’t fully grasp the elements within the film that make it great. Bad dialogue teaches our kids to speak poorly, and weak characters give them bad role models.

And let’s take a closer look at some other kids movies. The Toy Story movies are “written for kids” but they have a heart and a stirring sense of artistic direction that makes me glad to watch them with the little dude.  Heck, let’s just put all of the Pixar films in the list of great movies. The good folks at Pixar have a real dedication to the art of storytelling, and they celebrate their young audience instead of talking down to them.

Listen, I know it’s nice to enjoy a big, dumb movie without worrying about how much sense it makes. Sometimes you want to turn your brain off and just have some pretty lights flash in front of your eyes.  But don’t defend your fondness for the occasional piece of entertainment candy by claiming it’s “made for kids”.  Kids deserve better. In fact, they deserve to have the best stories told to them: the stories that warm their heart, bolster their courage, foster their sense of compassion, and make them feel as wonderful as we think they are.

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